Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Busway)

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford - Berlin- Waterb

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:43 pm

F-line to Dudley via Park wrote:Eventually there'll be commuter rail on the Manchester Sec. as a tertiary priority project (maybe first as a +3 stop extension of Waterbury-Hartford runs on the existing track


F-Line, is that line really long enough to be worth it? Having lived in Hartford, that area is well served by express buses and expansive park and rides. I agree with your characterization as "tertiary", in that it's way down the list. That could change if it turns into a bypass, of course and CtDOT's foresight in land-banking (although the land-banked route is a bit circuitous and trailed). I'm always confusing the air line routing with that line.

I think I'd almost rather see something using some of that ROW, but up US 5, although that orientation is clearly duplicative of NHHS. And, if I recall, there's a gap in that line in MA anyway.

It's not to say it's not a bad idea as an extension and might be useful for storage and quick turns anyway, if they could work out the frequencies inbound on single track, rather than gumming up other spots on the line.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:49 pm

Friendly moderator note:
Although this is a perfectly civilized discussion, can we please keep it to choo choos running on these ROWs? After all, last I checked this isn't CDOTbuswayfantasyorreality.net ;)

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby porkfriedrice » Wed May 11, 2016 3:03 am

Update from the SomethingAwful traffic engineer.

"If you've been reading for a long time, you might remember that the main selling point for the Busway was how much traffic it would take off I-84 between New Britain and Hartford. Well, it turns out there's a continuous count station in West Hartford just west of Hartford, and it just churned out its March volumes, so I took a gander at how the counts have changed in the year since the Busway opened. Drum roll please:

5.3-5.9% increase in traffic, depending on how you measure it. Ouch.
"

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... t459700668
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby NaugyRR » Thu May 12, 2016 1:42 pm

Who would've thought West Hartford was just west of Hartford? Did anyone else know that? :P
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby leviramsey » Thu May 12, 2016 8:54 pm

porkfriedrice wrote:Update from the SomethingAwful traffic engineer.

"If you've been reading for a long time, you might remember that the main selling point for the Busway was how much traffic it would take off I-84 between New Britain and Hartford. Well, it turns out there's a continuous count station in West Hartford just west of Hartford, and it just churned out its March volumes, so I took a gander at how the counts have changed in the year since the Busway opened. Drum roll please:

5.3-5.9% increase in traffic, depending on how you measure it. Ouch.
"

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... t459700668


To be fair, overall New England traffic volumes are up over 6% (though Hartford is probably in somewhat rougher shape than Boston or Worcester).
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri May 13, 2016 11:26 am

NaugyRR wrote:Who would've thought West Hartford was just west of Hartford? Did anyone else know that? :P

Given that we're talking about Connecticut here, a state where Southport is northeast of Westport, "Old" Saybrook exists without a New Saybrook (or just plain Saybrook), and two of the major odd-numbered Federal highways run East-West, it's worth stating. :wink:
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby ebtmikado » Fri May 13, 2016 7:19 pm

Given that we're talking about Connecticut here, a state where Southport is northeast of Westport, "Old" Saybrook exists without a New Saybrook (or just plain Saybrook), and two of the major odd-numbered Federal highways run East-West, it's worth stating. :wink:


A brief reading of the history of the Saybrook Colony easily explains the existence of Old Saybrook. The entire area (including Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Westbrook, Essex, Deep River and Chester) was originally Saybrook.
As communities grew, they split off, and assumed their current names. Saybrook was still the official name of Deep River until the 1940s. Thus the reason for the Old Saybrook name. With the internet at our fingertips, this misunderstanding should never be a problem.

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby DutchRailnut » Fri May 13, 2016 8:01 pm

as for odd numbered interstate running east west ?? the two interstates overall direction is north south, despite what they do locally.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby leviramsey » Fri May 13, 2016 9:19 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:as for odd numbered interstate running east west ?? the two interstates overall direction is north south, despite what they do locally.


Ridgefielder cited "federal highways" which would include US 1.

Fun fact: on the New England Interstates of the 1920s, route 1 was essentially the same route as today, but in the New England Interstates, odd was East-West and even was North-South.

NE 1 => US 1
NE 2 => US 5
NE 3 => US 6
NE 4 => US 7
NE 5 => US 20 (though the alignment from Worcester-Palmer followed the B&A more closely, going through the Brookfields to Palmer)
NE 6 => US 3
NE 7 => MA 2
NE 8 => CT/MA/VT 8
NE 9 => VT/NH/ME 9 (only to Wells; Maine would later extend 9 quite a bit further)
NE 10 => CT 9 -> US 44 -> CT/MA/NH 10
NE 11 => VT/NH/ME 11 -> ME 111 (Maine would also extend 11 as it did with 9... I'm on a bit of a quest to drive VT/NH/ME 11 from Manchester to Ft. Kent in pieces as opportunities present themselves... I'm as far as Bradford, ME)
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Stephen B. Carey » Sat May 14, 2016 8:58 am

leviramsey wrote:
porkfriedrice wrote:Update from the SomethingAwful traffic engineer.

"If you've been reading for a long time, you might remember that the main selling point for the Busway was how much traffic it would take off I-84 between New Britain and Hartford. Well, it turns out there's a continuous count station in West Hartford just west of Hartford, and it just churned out its March volumes, so I took a gander at how the counts have changed in the year since the Busway opened. Drum roll please:

5.3-5.9% increase in traffic, depending on how you measure it. Ouch.
"

http://forums.somethingawful.com/showth ... t459700668


To be fair, overall New England traffic volumes are up over 6% (though Hartford is probably in somewhat rougher shape than Boston or Worcester).


Could lower gas prices be contributing to the increase in traffic? The busway was designed when gas prices were much higher as I recall.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Sat May 14, 2016 12:38 pm

Maybe. But there's been a large building explosion in medical center-type buildings abutting I-84 between West Hartford and the CT 72 interchange in Plainville on what used to be empty land, as well as massive expansion of the UConn Health Ctr. campus several years ago. That's resulted in big spike in traffic volumes on the US 6 West, CT 72/CT 372, and once lowish-volume Fienemann Rd. and Slater Rd. exits. Plus considerable worsening at the CT 10 (both of them), CT 229, Marion Ave., CT 322, and I-691 interchanges because of Southington's nonstop binging on new sprawl development. I can tell you personally as Bristol native who comes in from Boston to visit the family once a month that west-of-Hartford is a lot worse for longer distance at more hours of the day than it was 10 years ago, and it correlates a little too perfectly with new abutting development to strictly be result the long-term economic recovery doing its thing.

Unfortunately, that Farmington-Southington string of exits encompass precisely the area the Busway doesn't. Northwest New Britain, Plainville, Bristol, and Southington are completely shut out of the Busway catchment area with very little in the way of CTransit bus transfers or tolerably scheduled run-thrus to downtown New Britain. This is one of the primary objections of the Busway critics. The areas with the historically crappiest bus coverage are the ones on a building binge, while primary beneficiaries are treading-water downtown New Britain and built-out Newington and West Hartford who all had the faster and less traffic-snarled bus routes to Hartford to begin with. My sister commutes on the Busway from her home in the far outskirts of NB to a job with the state right by Hartford Union Station and says it's awesome for her, but she also says she would've taken the bus anyway if the Busway weren't there. And that it would be abso-frickin'-lutely useless to her if she still lived at her previous place in Plainville by the Bristol town line.

Commuter rail: THAT actually would hit the CTransit route transfers west of downtown NB that serve all this exploding development. Including Farmington and Southington, who don't directly host the rail line but are within the Plainville station catchment and within CTransit transfer range.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Stephen B. Carey » Mon May 16, 2016 12:28 pm

Agreed, as a New Britain native, I am well aware of all the sprawl going on, and honestly I can't believe how bad some of the bus services are. The busway is a good start but I am waiting for them to extend the service up to the Manchester area where I currently live. There just needs to be more service in order to make the system viable.

Hopefully the NHHS line will also help by increasing public transit around these areas.
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Mon May 16, 2016 8:01 pm

Ahem...let's steer this back towards trains please...
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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby Jeff Smith » Tue May 17, 2016 10:13 am

Not second guessing, but it was kind of originally a busway boondoggle vs railroad topic.

That said, I'm not at all familiar with what the layout of the now removed land-banked ROW was like where it diverged from the Springfield line. I might venture (GASP!) that the busway may have been better suited towards the closer-in suburbs of Hartford, with the idea that these buses are leaving the dedicated ROW at strategic points and missing the close-in traffic. The outer burbs rail will work better.

Although I think in 99 cases where there's enough ridership for a BRT and railroad infrastructure already in place they should have went RR. If they were able to make the ROW wide enough for two-lane traffic, they could have done likewise for rail. Ultimately, the feds wanted a demo project, and they coughed up the bucks. So boondoggle or not, CtDOT spent the fed's money (all of it is taxpayer money, of course; just a different source/budget).

I wish, though, that CtDOT would have looked longer range, looking at just not the Central CT corridor but also Waterbury, make Waterbury a true shuttle at Devon (no mainline interaction) with an enhanced (not the temp) transfer station at Devon (instead of the Barnum idea), and run it Devon - Hartford. Even now, they need to consider this via Berlin. And it might not hurt to reinstall the southern leg of the wye at Berlin and provide service to New Haven as well.

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Re: Central Connecticut Rail Study Hartford-Waterbury (Buswa

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Tue May 17, 2016 11:09 am

Busway follows the New Britain Secondary ROW verbatim from Newington Jct. No deviations whatsoever except for an additional grade crossing elimination at the Allen St./East St. intersection. Actual track split was adjacent to Holmes Rd. a little downwind from the Route 173 overpass of the Springfield Line...roughly behind the Sears Auto Parts center. In addition to not having to do the Berlin backtrack, it had fewer grade crossings and passes by Central Connecticut State Univ. in a dense neighborhood at ideal spot for an intermediate stop. The Berlin Branch passes through an industrial area wholly adjacent to Route 9 and doesn't capture any unique ridership catchment.


Schedule-wise it's not different enough for the Berlin detour to be any big disappointment as consolation prize. Maybe 5 mins. difference at most since the longish distance between West Hartford and Berlin through the barren swamp gets the diesels revved up to top speed, and any increased frequencies at crucially-located Berlin will rake in the additional ridership just spiffy. It's just an unfortunate waste of resources to have taken it. The bus travel times were never that bad out here, Route 9 isn't all that busy and has an exit exactly where the CCSU intermediate stop is, and all other stops are duplicated by the Springfield Line where Amtrak has that at-will revokable lease to evict the busway when they need 3rd and/or 4th tracks for the NEC FUTURE Hartford bypass. Commuter rail will still blow all other modes out of the water even with the Berlin detour, because it stops at West Hartford and downtown NB all the same and has those critical Plainville + Bristol intermediates that trap all the places with crappy bus coverage. Plus other infill candidates in Forestville and the Corbin Ave. area of far western NB for trapping more walkup, ESPN employee shuttles, Stanley Works HQ, and those new Farmington/NB medical office parks sprouting up like weeds along I-84.


Devon is definitely a solid...probably recommended...possibility. The Highland is very straight except for the downtown Bristol horseshoe, and stop spacing really won't ever get that dense. Especially on the west end. There'll be goodly-long stretches of 79 MPH making the trip to Waterbury pretty brisk. And one of the hardest commutes to make in CT is from the Naugatuck Valley to/from Hartford because I-84 is so wretched the whole way east to Hartford and the I-84/CT 8 interchange itself is a legendary mess. There'd be some overchurn between Hartford County vs. Fairfield County/New Haven County commutes in the Seymor/Ansonia stretch, but north of there PLENTY of people have to make the drive of pain to Hartford and would benefit enormously from run-thru commuter rail. Certainly the rush-hour Bridgeport runs on MNRR should continue terminating in Waterbury, but Hartford-Devon seems like it should be the primary all-day service pattern for keeping meaningfully robust headways during peak, and for keeping the off-peak schedule from cratering to uselessness. 61 miles, 13-15 stops depending on whether Forestville or a Planville-NB spacer are up for consideration. That's about the going rate distance-wise for an end-to-end commuter rail trip in the Tri-State area, and around a league-average stop count for most CDOT schedules. Just make sure Devon gets every single New Haven Line train that bookends a Waterbury slot by +/- 20 mins. and it works.

Maybe even make sure that Windsor Locks has a pocket track for turnbacks, and run every Waterbury-Hartford train that terminates at Waterbury instead of Devon thru to Bradley. Plus maybe a handful of run-thrus if demand can balance. It is an absolute nightmare to get to Bradley from Waterbury, but the overchurn point where any of the New York airports become a less-painful option is again south of Seymour closer to where CT 8 meets the Merritt Parkway, not anywhere north. Middle- and upper- Naugatuck Valley is without a doubt the most airport-inaccessible pocket in the entire state because of the horrendous traffic and lack of any viable Hartford bypass following the 1970's cancellation of the Farmington-Windsor quadrant of the I-291 beltway. There'll be some viable airport run-thru demand if they pick their schedule spots carefully enough.
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