April 18, 2011 | last updated May 31, 2012 5:30 pm

Busway will strengthen region's economy


We write in response to the HBJ's April 11 editorial on the Hartford-New Britain Busway and enthusiastically applaud the governor's decision to proceed with the project. As the governor stated and the editorial recognized, the Busway will stimulate much needed employment in the construction trades, attack air quality and congestion issues on I-84, provide development opportunities at the Busway's nine stations, and complement the efforts to provide meaningful commuter rail service linking Hartford and North Central Connecticut to Boston and New York through Springfield and New Haven.

We also note the HBJ's comment about "jobs…moving to the suburbs for years…." There are numerous reasons for such moves out of Hartford, including the city's uncompetitive property tax structure and growing structural deficits, the traditional centralized large office model, and the historically inexpensive cost of gasoline. While none of us can predict the future, it's clear that the Internet and other technology advances along with steadily rising fuel costs and the desire of more people of all ages to live in urban settings will impact the evolving role and relationships of cities and suburbs. Given those realities, the Busway significantly strengthens both urban centers and the entire region to be ever more aggressive and successful competitors for large corporate employers, for premier health care and higher educational institutions, and, maybe most importantly, for the talented entrepreneurs who will launch and expand new ventures.

Indeed, many of the region's largest corporations, hospitals, and universities (as well as we taxpayers through state bonded initiatives) continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in this corridor. These extraordinary investments clearly demonstrate confidence in Central Connecticut's future, a confidence that the Busway will enhance. Therefore, while we unequivocally share the HBJ's budgetary and fiscal concerns and agree that the governor's decision can be characterized as a "close call," we are equally certain that Governor Malloy has moved the region dramatically forward, both in terms of immediate employment opportunities and in strategic positioning for sustained economic growth for decades to come.

Oz Griebel, president and CEO, MetroHartford Alliance

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Governor Malloy's decision to move ahead with the New Britain — Hartford Busway ("Malloy embraces party now, pay later," 4/11/11) demonstrates that he recognizes the numerous economic benefits of investing in Connecticut's public transportation infrastructure. Although the total cost seems high, it includes not only the cost of the Busway itself but also the cost of the acquisition of the rights-of-way; the cost of constructing a bike path adjacent to the Busway; the construction of bridges, 11 stations and all other structures for the Busway; and the purchase of new buses.

And the return on investment is tremendous. A recent report prepared for the Transit for Connecticut Coalition looked at the New Britain — Hartford Busway and the impact investing in the project would have on the state's economy.

The report showed that currently, the average driver in the Hartford region spends $541 a year on gas used while sitting in traffic. Reducing these congestion costs could save the state and its residents $2,705,000 a year. The Busway would also save new commuters approximately 5,000 daily hours of delay in their commute over the course of each year. Additionally, the report showed that the Busway could potentially bring a total savings of $9,900 per household if new Busway riders eliminate the need for a second car in the household.

What's even more impressive is that investing in the New Britain — Hartford Busway will create 4,710 new jobs in the state. These jobs will go directly to Connecticut laborers — they will not be outsourced to other states. Additionally, investing in the New Britain — Hartford Busway will be a boon to the state economy — it is estimated that building the Busway will lead to $2,268,000,000 in benefits to the state. These benefits would come in the form of new transit-oriented development along the route, higher local property taxes in downtown Hartford near Union Station, and increased tax revenue from the workers and operators who are employed by the project.

We applaud Governor Malloy's decision to move forward with the New Britain — Hartford Busway. It is obvious that the Busway will go a long way towards helping to stimulate Connecticut's economy and improve the terrible congestion that commuters have been dealing with on I-84 west of Hartford for more than a decade.

Karen Burnaska, coordinator, Transit for Connecticut Coalition, New Haven


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