Making Buses Like Trains

How do you get people to ride the bus? Pretend it’s a train, a consultant told Connecticut transit planners last week, as Don Stacom reported in The Hartford Courant. (Disclosure: I have more than a passing acquaintance with Mr. Stacom.)

The message was that bus systems are more successful the more they resemble light rail, with frequent service, fewer stops, pleasant stations and rapid boarding. The state of Connecticut is planning such a busway, along a former railroad right-of-way, between New Britain and Hartford.

The rather poor reputation of long-distance bus travel in this country is already shifting a little bit, thanks to the introduction of luxury buses like the LimoLiner and the inexpensive but stylish BoltBus and Megabus lines. Because of this, I’m much more likely to travel by bus these days than I used to be.

But commuting is another matter, here in Central Connecticut. I tried like hell to ride the Connecticut Transit buses when I worked in Hartford, but the schedules made it very difficult. Express buses were too few and local buses took too long. I’d still rather ride a train, but I would settle for better bus service.

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