On Tuesday, September 1st, HYPE's Civic Engagement Committee hosted Rich Andreski, Bureau Chief of Public Transportation at the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), for an evening event focusing on the future of Connecticut’s transportation and how it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, attraction and retention of young professionals, and economic development within the Greater Hartford Region.
Andreski shared insights on dramatic public transportation ridership declines due to COVID-19, particularly on Connecticut’s rail lines, New Haven Line (Metro-North), CTrail Hartford Line
, and CTrail Shore Line East
as well as cleaning and safety efforts the
CTDOT has undertaken across the transportation system. CTtransit
have seen a rebound in ridership as there are many customers who rely on the mode to get groceries, get to work, or get to school. Andreski was proud to be able to serve and continue to serve many essential workers within the state during the pandemic, “It is very important to the Department [of Transportation] to ensure the safety of all our customers and staff/crews, who are essential workers themselves,” Andreski said.
Looking towards the future, Andreski also addressed the role and responsibility public transportation plays in relation to pollution which causes climate change. Electrification and autonomous vehicles were top of mind for Andreski, “Electrification and autonomous vehicle technology is here.” He predicted within the next decade we will be seeing dramatic changes across the country when it comes to transportation infrastructure to accommodate the rise in new electrification and autonomous vehicle technologies. The CTDOT recently announced that they are scheduled to deploy the first full-sized automated transit bus in North America along the CTfastrak
bus rapid transit corridor. Electrification has begun on some CTtransit
buses within the state as well. Andreski noted that these types of advancements are all contingent upon funding and support from our legislators and representatives and implored attendees to advocate for transportation infrastructure funding.
The event also explored how transportation impacts an economy. Reliable transportation infrastructure allows for the movement of goods and people to and from work, home, the grocery store, medical appointments, etc. Attendees at the event gained further insight on how reliable public transportation allows participation within our region’s economy by all and not just those who own a car. Reliable transportation infrastructure keeps an economy moving. As we move into a new decade, what will reliable transportation look like?
Jesse Imse is the Vice Chair of the Civic Engagement Committee. Want to learn more about joining this HYPE volunteer committee? Email Jesse for more information!