Connecticut’s Kane Predicts Busway Will Go the Route of NY’s ‘Train to Nowhere’ [CT Talking]

August 13, 2012

Anyone Wanna Buy a “Unique” State Bus?

You know those buses which will soon be traveling along the $1000-an-inch New Britain to Hartford busway?
I have seen their future.

In New York, Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to hold a “fire sale” of unused trains purchased by the state as part of a failed high-speed rail project.

That Empire State project has come to be called the “$70 Million Train to Nowhere.” New Yorkers poured $70 million into a plan calling for retrofitting seven sets of Amtrak gas turbine trains and making track improvements to facilitate high-speed travel from Albany to New York City. Now, 14 years later, the state will sell what’s left of the unused trains, probably for scrap. Four sets of trains have sat unused in a rail yard in Glenville, New York since 2004, costing state taxpayers $150,000 per year in storage costs.

Each Amtrak Turboliner weighs about 400 tons. They may be scrapped by the state for as little at 10 cents per pound.

In New York, the trains never fulfilled their promise and are now sitting among weeds in what some have called the most expensive weed planters in the world. The state is hoping to recoup half a million dollars from the sale of the trains, a small proportion of the $70 million the state invested in the project.

Here in Connecticut, state officials like Democrat Gov. Dannel P. Malloy tout the promise of the nearly $600 million New Britain to Hartford busway, which is now called CTFastrak. They envision you driving to downtown New Britain, where you may or may not be required to pay to park, and then you will pay to ride a bus which may or may not get you to within walking distance of your destination. And oh, by the way, the busway may or not get plowed when it snows. Sound appealing? Enough to get you off the highway and out of your car? I don’t think so.

Gov. Malloy’s commissioner of the state Department of Transportation says he can’t think of anything more meaningful than delivering a mass transit project of this nature. “This has been a project that some people have declared as a waste of money or not important,” he recently said. “But this will become a transportation corridor unlike any other in this country; this will be an absolutely unique project.”
“Unique.” That’s an excellent adjective. This “unique” project is moving forward full steam ahead.

Ask anyone in Newington or West Hartford their opinions of the chewed up landscapes they see in their towns. They may have different descriptive words to offer. But just think of the big picture, taxpayers: Peak busway service will operate every three minutes along the New Britain to Hartford route, with about 20 buses in each direction. Can’t you just imagine all of those jam-packed buses zipping back and forth every 180 seconds? I can’t either.

We can learn from New York’s “Train to Nowhere” failure. We can pull the plug on the busway boondoggle and instead focus on improving the roads and bridges throughout the state which need upgrades. We can save Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of dollars – money that our children and grandchildren will one day be forced to pay.

We don’t want to see a state fire sale of unused, weed infested CT Fastrak buses in 14 years, but don’t be surprised if you read about such a sale around the year 2026 or so.