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WWL: Public Transit Benchmarking
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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The state of Connecticut has applied for its share of the 8 Billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail projects


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48:55 minutes (23.49 MB)
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The state of Connecticut has applied for its share of the 8 Billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail projects. This could mean that the long-awaited New Haven to Springfield rail is within reach.

We’ve had no shortage of discussions on the inadequate state of public transportation in Connecticut – and the many roadblocks we face.

Although the public transit New England needs may be unique to our region – there are still things we can learn from places like Portland Oregon and Denver Colorado – cities that are on the cutting edge of public transit.

Coming up, Hartford Courant “Place” columnist Tom Condon joins us in studio to talk about our public transportation, and to do some benchmarking…exploring cities that do it right.

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Listener Email from Brian

My name is Brian. I live in New Haven, but I grew up in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. I actually commuted into downtown Portland over the course of two summers in high school.

In discussing public transportation in Portland, I believe there are three key terms you must keep in mind: "The Total Transit Experience," "Multi-Modal," and "Transportation Options."

First off, "The Total Transit Experience" is the mantra of TriMet general manager, Fred Hansen. It's all about exactly what you described in your introduction: uniquely-designed bus stop sign, bus shelters adorned with public art, bus transfers that serve as valid fare on the light rail and vice versa, Transit Tracker ID #'s on every bus stop that allow you to call a number, type in the ID, and find out when the next bus is coming. When Hansen brought The Total Transit Experience to TriMet, he took what had been a fundamentally well-run, efficient transit system and turned it into a truly world-class system.

Secondly, you have to realize that TriMet is fundamentally Multi-Modal. The beauty of TriMet lies in how they managed to seamlessly integrate light rail, bus, and streetcar--with the light rail lines serving as the backbone of the bus system, and the streetcar circulating people around the downtown core once they get there.

Finally, in Portland, it's all about Transportation Options. No matter where you are, or where you are going, there are usually at least three or four good ways to get there. For example, when I was commuting into Portland, I would take the express bus on the Interstate in the morning, when traffic was light. In the afternoon, when the bus was bound to get stuck in traffic on the freeway, I would bypass all the traffic jams by riding the light rail up to the state line, and then bicycling across the Columbia River to where I lived in Southwest Washington.

Rail in Conn.


You and Tom Condon should comment today upon the proposed new freight & passenger tunnel under New York Harbor to get trucks off of I-95. Being actively pushed by 4th District Congressman Jim Himes (D) and others.

Switzerland has built the recently opened the 21 mile Alpine Basis Tunnel to get the European  trucks off Swiss roads and on to rail.