CTfastrak saw an average of 10,344 daily riders during its first week of service in April. Since then, ridership has grown to a point where it is averaging about 14,000 rides per day. Roughly half of those rides are on routes that operate solely on the Hartford-to-New Britain busway, while the other half are on routes that include, but extend beyond, the busway. According to Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker, ConnDOT had projected a minimum of 11,200 daily rides during first year of service.
CTfastrak’s early success continues a national trend of actual ridership surpassing projections for new light rail, streetcar and BRT systems. It also proves that the “Land of Steady Habits” has embraced new ways of getting around, despite what some critics had predicted early on.
One segment of the population that has helped boost ridership beyond projected figures is the students at Central Connecticut State University, who use CTfastrak to get between campus and the nightlife in downtown Hartford. The Hartford Courant reports:
Since CTfastrak started running at the end of March, Central Connecticut State University students have embraced it as a safe, low-cost ride home on Thursday nights. For $1.50, they ride from East Street — near dorms and many off-campus apartments — to the cluster of clubs just a block or two from Union Station.
As rowdy as it might be, the only one behind the wheel tonight is the bus driver, who identifies himself as James. “You have to remember, they’re not going to be driving — we’re keeping them off the roads,” he says.
Although CTfastrak won’t see many students riding this summer, there’s reason to suspect ridership to continue to increase in the next few months — studies have shown that transit use tends to rise with the temperature — and in the coming years as transit-oriented development projects proliferate around station areas.