The Capitol Region Council of Governments is recommending changes to the transit system that could add a bus through Plainville and Southington and move a Meriden-New Brtain route from the Chamberlain Highway over to the Berlin Turnpike.
The CRCOG board approved the 102-page transit service analysis which collected ridership data, analyzed existing bus routes, and conducted a market analysis to identify new service areas.
CRCOG’s Comprehensive Transit Service Analysis of the New Britain/Bristol Division of CTtransit is now complete, as CRCOG’s Policy Board endorsed the study’s Final Report earlier this summer.
The study area for the effort, which began in 2015, included Berlin, Bristol, New Britain, Plainville and Southington. The document serves as a planning tool for future CTtransit bus service in the New Britain-Bristol Division.
”The recommendations of this study represents a potential scenario and are not a final service plan,” the report said. “The document will serve as an example for improved bus transit service in the study area and provide a potential blueprint for future service.”
Any service changes will need to be approved by the Department of Transportation.
Phase One would be cost neutral and include a new Route 542 connecting Bristol and Plainville to Southington. The new route would operate along West Street, West Queen Street and Queen Street. Under Phase Two, which would include an 11 percent cost hike, service would be extended farther south and operate via West Street, West Main Street, South Main Street to serve the Plantsville park and ride, Main Street and Queen Street.
Connecticons to other services would be available in downtown Bristol, the Lake Avenue and Plainville park and rides and Connecticut Commons in Plainville.
Study authors say there is a need for increased transit services in the downtown Southington area, where there are some seniors without cars and low-income residents.
However, Democratic Town Councilor Dawn Miceli said there have been no discussions about the need for bus service among town residents.
“We’ve never had formal discussions during my 10 years on the council,” Miceli said. “This has not been a big topic of need from constituents or businesses.”
Town senior citizens have expressed a need for a ride service, and the United Way has obtained grant funding from Main Street Community Foundation to provide one. The service would assist senior citizens without cars to get to shopping and doctors’ appointments.
“That’s what we do in this town,” Miceli said. “Rather than waiting for public this or that, we take it on as our own.”
Economic Development Coordinator Louis Perillo said that although he is no longer a member of CRCOG, he expects the need for transit service in Southington would increase as areas become more dense.
The study also takes a look at the existing route that brings riders from Arch Street in New Britain to the Westfield Meriden mall and onto MidState Medical Center.
That route, 501, currently travels non-stop along Chamberlain Highway. Phase One would change the route to go from Target to the mall to North Colony Road, to the Berlin Turnpike, along Farmington Avenue and into New Britain.
“Route 501 offers fast and direct service between New Britain and Meriden, but the route operates mostly closed-door along the Chamberlan Highway,” the report states. “Other alignments, although approximately five minutes slower, demonstrate higher ridership potential through areas of Berlin with underlying demand but no current service.”