THE HISTORY OF
PUBLIC BUS SERVICE
IN GREATER DANBURY, CT
6/2008 by Richard Schreiner,
HART Service Development Director
Greater Danbury - New Milford region is a growing and prosperous
metropolitan area. It is served by a regional public bus system
operated by the Housatonic Area Regional Transit District
funding for HART services and their periodic expansion is
significant. Officials and citizens are anxious to see these
funds wisely spent. Numerous statistical and ridership tables
are readily available to enable interested parties to understand
HART's productivity and finances.
until now, the broader perspective on HART's historical roots
and systematic development over decades, has not been available.
This history is provided in this report to facilitate wise
investment in regional transit.
We begin with a review of Danbury trolley service. While now
only of historical interest, public bus service in Danbury,
and then the surrounding region, grew from that base.
As will be seen, transit service trends in the state and nation
are well reflected in Greater Danbury's bus service developments
from then on.
service operated by the Danbury and Bethel Street Railway
began in Danbury and Bethel in 1887, operating a 15 mile network
of track at its greatest extent.
and Bethel system was not typical in Connecticut, as most
local trolley lines were interconnected and operated by the
Connecticut Company or the Connecticut Railway and Lighting
The primary coverage area was the old and historic central
area of Danbury. An
August 2000 retrospective in the Danbury News Times by George
Orgleman describes the service:
main line was on Main Street from City Hall to Wooster Square.
From Wooster Square the line went north on Main Street to
North Street, ending at the intersection of North Street and
From Wooster Square the tracks went east to White Street to
the edge of Beaver Brook at the intersection of Triangle Street
and White Street. The line went west from City Hall up to
the West Street park. Here the track divided, one line going
farther out on West Street to Lake Avenue.
The other section of the line went out Division Street to
West Wooster Street, along West Wooster to Frye’s Corner,
west on Park Avenue to the Fairgrounds, down Backus Avenue
to Kenosia Avenue and on to Lake Kenosia.
the City Hall the tracks went down South Main Street to the
cavernous car barns and then South to Bethel and down to its
Main Street, ending at Fountain Place.
barns on South Street, now occupied by the Party Depot, are
the sole remaining remnant of the line still in existence.
FROM TROLLYS TO BUSES
Danbury and Bethel Street Railway ran into financial difficulty
around 1914. Ridership decreased with the decline of the local
hat factories. The company lost investments in a failed extension
of a trolley route between Bridgeport and Danbury that only
made it as far north as Trumbull.
for passengers from the automobile grew as roadways were improved
and mass production made cars more affordable. A
fire in the trolley barns in the early 1920’s destroyed
19 trolley cars, causing further financial trouble.
small privately operated buses operating flexible routes dubbed
“jitneys” appeared. Jitneys (so named because
they had a 5 cent fare, and jitney was slang for a nickel
at that time) began operation in Danbury in the 1920’s.
But service was not permitted on the trolley routes. Local
conflict with streetcar companies and safety issues affected
jitney operations all over the country. Though common elsewhere
in the world today, jitney service never really took hold
in the United States.
J. Moss Ives, the brother of famous Danbury composer Charles
Ives, took charge of the trolley line after its bankruptcy.
He purchased the first buses by 1921 to operate a route between
West Street and Lake Avenue in Danbury, rather than expending
the capital to extend the trolley line.
the trolley company as the Danbury and Bethel Traction Company
in 1925, now operating on 13 miles of track. As a cost saving
measure, he proposed buses on all routes in 1926.
In response, the trolley motormen struck on November 22. The
strike did not save the streetcars. By the end of December,
1926, trolleys ceased operation and buses had taken their
and Bethel had the first trolley system in Connecticut to
go under and make the switch to buses. The rest of the state
eventually followed suit, with the last of the Connecticut
Company trolleys ceasing operation in New Haven by 1948.
loss of streetcars are now looked on with regret, trolleys
were then considered old fashioned and outmoded. A contemporary
document from 1938, "60 years in Danbury" published
by the Hamilton Press, states: “Danbury was a pioneer
among many cities which have since replaced the trolley car
with the more modern bus system.”
POST WORLD WAR I PERIOD
1920’s saw the introduction of the first intercity bus
services in the region. In October 1925, the New England Transportation
Company proposed a route between Poughkeepsie and Danbury roughly
paralleling the New Haven Railroad’s Maybrook Line.
The New England
Transportation Company, like the Connecticut Company, was
organized by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.
The railroad’s intent was to replace unprofitable passenger
service on its Maybrook Line with buses.
many of the intercity routes started by New England Transportation
are still being operated in some form today by Peter Pan and
other private long haul bus companies.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, multiple bus routes
and providers ran within the Housatonic Region, with Danbury
the locus of regional mass transportation.
Pershing Square, at the intersection of West and Main in Danbury
and the very center of the downtown business district, was
a major stop and transfer area for the Danbury Power and Transportation
Company (sometimes referred to as the Danbury and Bethel Transportation
Company), the successor to the Danbury and Bethel Traction
Company. The headquarters of the bus company remained at the
old trolley barn on South Street.
services had a terminal at 314 Main Street, Danbury, near
the intersection with Elm Street, as pictured below. Blue
Club Coach Lines operated a Bridgeport–Newtown-Danbury
Route. The company operated three daily trips on this route
beginning in August, 1929.
intercity bus terminal at 314 Main Street
Sperry was the president of Danbury Power and Transportation
in the early days of local bus operations. Sperry was a well
known civil engineer whose firm, Sperry Engineering, constructed
the Yale Bowl in New Haven. He was succeeded as president
by his son, William T. Sperry, in 1950.
1930’s we see a high level of bus service in Danbury,
as documented by this excerpt from the 1935 Danbury Traffic
1. Danbury & Bethel Transportation Company makes fifty-four
trips from Main Street on a twenty minute schedule, also eighteen
extra trips a day. Main Street to end of North; Main Street
to end of White Street; Main Street to end of West Wooster;
Main Street via Franklin St to Well Ave; Main Street to Lake
Kenosia via West & Lake Avenue; Main Street to Hospital
via Osborne Street.
2. New England Transportation Company operates from the Railroad
Station on White Street. Five round trips a day to Ridgefield
via Main, West, Division and West Wooster Streets. Five round
trips to south Norwalk via Main, West, Division and West Wooster
Streets. Two round trips to New Milford via White and Federal
Streets. Two round trips to New Haven via South Street and
Coal Pit Hill. Two round trips from Pittsfield to New York
going from the north to the south.
3. Brewster & Danbury Motor Company operates two buses
from Main Street via West Street and Lake Avenue.
4. Danbury Interurban Company operates ten buses going from
the center of Main Street to Poughkeepsie, Hartford, Waterbury
and Bridgeport. Four round trips from Main Street via south
Street and Coal Pit Hill. Five round trips from Main Street
through White Street. Two round trips from Main Street through
5. The City Taxi Company operates school buses to the High
School as follows: two from Brookfield, one each from Branchville,
Redding and New Fairfield.
6. Between eight and twelve independent companies operate
through Danbury on which we were unable to get desired information.
1935, as reported in the Danbury News Times, Danbury Interurban
Lines acquired Scenic Lines, which operated between Pittsfield
and New York, and Hartford and NYC.
This was on the heels of its acquisition of Packard Lines
with bus routes that ran Danbury-New York, Danbury-Poughkeepsie
and Danbury-Boston. According to the paper, Danbury Interurban
was then one of the largest bus lines in the east.
Bus from Danbury
Western CT Stages ran a route between New Hartford and New
York City that served several towns in the Housatonic Region.
One way fare from New Hartford to NY was $2.25. There were
4 daily round trips that served Sandy Hook and Bethel and
six round trips per day serving Ridgefield and Danbury.
Clearly, privately funded bus transportation was doing well
in the area.
USE PEAKS IN THE 1940'S
During the Second World War transit use skyrocketed throughout
the country. National ridership peaked in 1946 at 23.4 billion
Today in the early 21st century, public transit in the US
is enjoying a steady increase in modal share and ridership,
but is still less than half of the total seen during the war.
Danbury Power and Transportation Company buses,
Yellow Coach, standing at Pershing Square circa
1940. The view
is from West Street next to the Pershing Building
Main Street (Photo courtesy Danbury Historical Society).
1940’s, the Danbury Flying Eagle Bus Company ran 16
round trips a day from Danbury to Bridgeport. The service
ran via Bethel, Newtown, Botsford and Stepney.
Buses ran every half hour in the peaks beginning at 5 AM to
almost 1 in the morning, carrying workers from Danbury to
the booming factories at General Electric, Remington Arms,
United Aircraft and other plants.
time Walters Transit ran one round trip per day to Ball Pond
in New Fairfield, from New York, via the West Bronx, Yonkers,
Hartsdale and Hawthorne at a cost of $1.25 one way. The company
also ran a Putnam Lake-Ball Pond-Danbury route with 7 daily
and 1948, Danbury Power and Transportation updated its fleet
with eight 28 foot GMC TD3206 and four 30 foot TDH3610 model
diesel buses. This streamlined style bus, produced beginning
in 1940 with some variants in production until the late 1960’s,
was a common sight in towns and cities across the US.
of bus used in Danbury and Bethel in the 1950's
example of the TDH3610 model, shown above, carried civil rights
pioneer Rosa Parks in the days of southern segregation.
OF CHANGE IN THE 1950'S
1953 a Danbury community survey by the Columbia School of
Engineering provides a snapshot of the local bus service at
that time. It provides a sense that service was on the decline:
transit service, which is supplied by the Danbury Power and
Transportation Company, is contracting because of the use
of private automobiles, television and telephones. The service
is at the point where further reduction will probably not
be possible, from a practical standpoint. It is sufficient
for the demands that are made on it, however.
intercity bus lines connect Danbury with South Norwalk, Brewster
and Bridgeport. The bus operations are conducted skillfully,
reliably and economically.
Power and Transportation Company service operated from 6 AM
to 11:45 PM weekdays on 15 to 30 minute headways. Cash fare
was 15 cents; 16 tokens could be purchased for $2, or a book
of 40 tickets for $3.
January and May, 1954, Danbury Power and Transportation ran
232,946 miles and took in almost $64,000 in fares. Prior to
a fare increase hearing in 1954, bus company president William
T. Sperry took the unusual step of raising fares before official
approval by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC), and
issuing receipts to passengers for the difference in fares.
The receipts could be redeemed in the event the fare increase
was not approved.
Danbury Power and Transportation again petitioned the PUC
for a fare increase. From 1953-1954, revenue had dropped from
from $134,000 to $91,000. There was a small profit for the
company in 1954-1955, then losses in 1956 and 1957. The PUC
granted a fare increase of 5 cents.
1958 community monograph, prepared by the Connecticut Development
Commission, lists the bus services in Danbury that year:
There were four interstate bus operators serving the town
at that time, one intrastate bus operator and the local services
provided by Danbury Power and Transportation.
Local bus service to Bethel was provided during the weekday
with hourly headways.
route was provided by Empire Bus Lines. The bus from Poughkeepsie
served Route 22, then followed Fairfield Drive to Ball Pond,
and on into Danbury to Main Street. Empire ran one round trip
per week on Thursdays.
Intercity Coach Line ran between Danbury and Bridgeport serving
Newtown, Bethel, and Danbury with 5 round trips Monday-Sunday.
The economy in Bridgeport had cooled after World War II and
bus service was reduced accordingly. In the mid 50’s,
fares were graduated on the route based on distance traveled,
with $2.55 for a round trip ticket between Danbury and Bridgeport.
Line, a subsidiary of the R&H Company, ran a New York,
Yonkers, Ridgefield, Danbury, Newtown to Boston route with
6 daily round trips.
TRANSIT CRISIS OF THE 1960'S
the 1960’s, bus and rail passenger transportation was
on the decline everywhere due to escalating costs and decreasing
ridership. In Connecticut and nationally, legislative steps
were taken to preserve public transit.
The Connecticut General Assembly passed Public Act 507 “Concerning
the Establishment of Transit Districts.” The Act was
intended to encourage municipalities to form transit districts
to supervise operation of privately operated bus or rail services.
These agencies were also empowered to set fares and establish
new transit services for the public good.
the state created the Connecticut Public Transportation Authority
to support foundering rail passenger service. Their mandate
was extended to bus services in 1965.
The successor to this agency, while now advisory to the DOT,
still exists at the state level and is known today as the Connecticut
Public Transportation Commission.
the Federal Urban Mass Transportation Act was passed. The
Act led to the formation of the Urban Mass Transportation
Administration (UMTA), which created a funding mechanism for
the support of public transit.
UMTA was operated under the aegis of the US Department of
Transportation, created in 1967. UMTA was renamed the Federal
Transit Administration (FTA) in the early 1990’s and
is a key sponsor of HART today.
year the mass transportation act passed, William T. Sperry
ran into trouble. In addition to Danbury Power and Transportation,
Sperry operated Danbury-Brewster, Danbury-Bridgeport and Danbury-Norwalk
service through Intercity Coach, and the Danbury Bus Company.
ran White Lines in Bridgeport, bus services in Ft. Lauderdale,
Florida, and Levittown, New York, and school bus services
in Danbury and surrounding communities. The school bus services
were used to help support the public bus routes.
30, Danbury Power and Transportation, Danbury Bus and Intercity
Coach suspended service after their liability insurance lapsed
due to non-payment. Sperry also owed thousands in property
taxes, and had failed to file payroll taxes. Chieppo Bus of
New Haven operated the local bus service on an interim basis.
the 1964 crisis, Danbury Mayor J. Thayer Bowman raised the
possibility of creating a public transit authority jointly
with the Town of Bethel, using the enabling legislation passed
back in 1961.
a month later, on Friday, October 23, school bus service was
interrupted throughout the region when buses operated by County
Bus Service, a Sperry affiliate, were seized by the State
National Bank of Connecticut.
The fleet was repossessed Thursday evening and driven en masse
to Prospect, CT. School bus service resumed the following
Monday after new investors purchased the school buses.
In 1965 Sperry sold the local bus franchise to the Candlewood
Bus Company, who operated a Danbury-Bethel and White Street-Fry’s
Corner-Franklin Street route for about a year and a half.
They in turn were followed by the ABC Company for a few months
before all local bus service ceased in 1967.
LOCAL BUS SERVICE RETURNS
followed a period where no local bus services operated in Greater
Danbury, a situation not unique to the Housatonic Valley. Elsewhere
in the state, Connecticut Company buses stopped running for
a time in 1972, and started up a few months later after the
provision of state subsidy to continue services. Connecticut
Company operations would become CONNECTICUT TRANSIT.
privately operated local bus and passenger rail services were
foundering, with only the long distance bus operations surviving.
Transit ridership in the US sunk to its lowest point ever,
with 6.6 billion annual trips.
Vincent Socci of Danbury Taxi and Limousine proposed the operation
of two bus routes in Danbury using small buses. The service
never got off the ground, and the cab company closed eight
years later due to rising fuel costs.
successful referenda to form a Danbury-Bethel Transit District
were held in Danbury and Bethel. The first members of the
board were Robert Putnam (chair) and Joseph Taylor of Danbury,
and James Dolan of Bethel.
2, 1973, local bus service began operating under an emergency
grant of $7,000 from the City of Danbury. Thereafter, ConnDOT
contracted for operation with the Candlewood Valley Bus Company,
and service policy was implemented by the Danbury-Bethel Transit
was a famous handshake agreement between Candlewood Valley
President William Clinkard and Colin Pease of Conn DOT. Due
to an administrative delay, Candlewood Valley was asked to
run service without a contract. The handshake was offered
as the only state guarantee of repayment. William Clinkard,
always a gentlemen, accepted.
letterhead of the old Danbury - Bethel Transit District
Valley operated two routes similar to those at the end of
the Danbury Power and Transportation Company days. In 1976,
three Mercedes Benz 0309D 16 passenger buses and two 1974
GMC T6H 5308A buses were in operation in Danbury and Bethel.
The GMC buses were owned by ConnDOT, and the Mercedes buses
were owned by the City of Danbury. Base fare was $0.60.
Mercedes buses were a "shot in the arm" for the
image of public transportation in the area. They were judged
by all to be very attractive vehicles, also in use in some
upscale Gold Coast towns.
from 1977 cover of the area's Regional
Transportation Plan, featuring the new Mercedes buses
3126, a 53 seat 1974 GMC “fishbowl” owned
by ConnDOT and operated by Candlewood Valley
Bus, which saw service in Danbury and Bethel
Valley leased facilities on Grays Bridge Road from the Town
of Brookfield (the current location of the Brookfield Public
Works complex), while the Danbury-Bethel Transit District
was coordinated out of the offices of the Housatonic Valley
Council of Elected Officials (HVCEO) on Main Street, Danbury.
of intercity routes still operated in the region in the mid
Bonanza Bus of Providence, RI, operated a NYC-Danbury-Waterbury-Hartford
route. Nine round trips were provided daily, with the earliest
arrival in Danbury from Hartford at 6:30 AM. The last bus
of the day to Hartford departed at 11:50 PM. Fares were $1.40
Danbury-Waterbury, $2.20 Danbury-Hartford and $4.90 from NYC
to Danbury. The bus stopped at 76 White Street in Danbury.
A second Bonanza run provided service between Pittsfield,
MA, and NYC, with stops in New Milford, Danbury and Ridgefield.
One morning and evening round trip was provided, with an extra
evening departure from NYC to Pittsfield on Sunday. The bus
stopped in New Milford at Robustelli travel on Danbury Road
and at Ridgefield News on Main Street, Ridgefield. It was
$1.05 to take the bus to New Milford, and $0.95 to Ridgefield
Chieppo Bus of New Haven operated Danbury-Bridgeport service
with flag stops along the route in Bethel and Newtown. Four
round trips were provided Monday-Saturday. The Bridgeport-Danbury
fare was $1.75 one way; Newtown to Danbury was $0.35, and
Bethel to Danbury $0.30. Chieppo’s stop in Danbury was
at 53 Main Street.
Kelley Transit of Torrington provided a Brewster, NY, to Torrington
route via Danbury and New Milford. The service ran one daily
round trip. The fare from Danbury-Brewster or Danbury-New
Milford was $1.05. It was $2.20 to travel Danbury-Torrington.
route map of local bus services in Danbury and Bethel
(to southeast), with small extension into Brookfield (to northeast)
The Danbury - Bethel Transit District was under the leadership
of Peter Winter of Danbury. With Nancy Deibler of HVCEO providing
part time staff support, they began the process of acquiring
new buses to implement expanded bus services in the region
in accordance with HVCEO’s Transit Development Program.
A year later, New Milford joined the transit agency. James
Terrell and Cliff Chapin were early bus transit advocates
from that community.
a marketing study, the name of the expanded district was officially
changed to Housatonic Area Regional Transit (HART).
HATS, or Housatonic Area Transit System, was also considered,
in commemoration of Danbury's past role as the nation's hat
manufacturing capital. But it was decided that the emerging
image of a modern bus system should not be tied to faded glory.
of today's SweetHART dial-a-ride service for persons with
disabilities and seniors emerge at this time. Federal regulations
encouraged regional coordination of dial-a-ride services,
which were then provided in the region by a host of separate
were made by Nancy Deibler to consolidate dial-a-ride operations
under HART in Danbury, Bethel, New Fairfield, Ridgefield,
Redding and Newtown. A goal was to avoid the fractured and
non-regional system operating on the coast; Greater Danbury
could keep its municipal subsidy costs down by economies of
scale in a regional system.
ADMINISTRATOR IN THE 1980'S
1981 HART moved out of the HVCEO office at 256 Main Street
to a new office next door at 248 Main Street.
HART took delivery of ten 30’ TMC city cruisers painted
in red and white livery. The arrival of the new buses changed
the relationship between Candlewood Valley Bus, ConnDOT and
new buses were placed in service, Candlewood Valley began
operation of service in a direct contractual relationship
with HART, in lieu of ConnDOT. The area was getting more control
of its bus service and how it would be operated.
cutting for the new HART buses in 1982. Pictured from left
New Milford First Selectman Clifford Chapin, Danbury Mayor
Dyer, Congressman William Ratchford, and
Chairman Emanuel Merullo of Danbury.
1982 nine paratransit vehicles manufactured by Coach and Equipment
arrived that year for operation on the regional dial-a-ride
service, now called SweetHART.
The Danbury Chapter of the American Red Cross initially operated
the service under contract to HART in Danbury, Bethel, Newtown,
Ridgefield and Redding.
early 80’s local bus service was operated in Danbury
and Bethel on seven routes at 45 minute frequencies:
Monday through Friday, service began at 6 AM with the last
departure from Danbury at 5:45 PM. On Saturdays, service began
at 8:00 AM with the last departure at 5:00 PM. There was no
Sunday or evening bus service.
A New Milford-Danbury route was provided at 90 minute intervals
between 9:10 AM and 3:30 PM during the week with additional
service during peak periods. Saturday service was provided
at 90 minute intervals from 7:40 AM to 6:10 PM.
Commuter shuttle services to major employers in Bethel and
Danbury was provided in addition to fixed route service.
from HART system map of 1982
HART selected J.A.C.E. transportation of Danbury to operate
the fixed route bus service and Candlewood Valley to operate
SweetHART, both under four year contracts.
In 1988 both operations were consolidated under J.A.C.E. A
year later, the J.A.C.E. operation was sold to Laidlaw Transit,
which continued to operate HART services until the early 1990’s.
late 80’s, bus operations ran out of Shelter Rock Road
in Danbury, and administration at this time was still headquartered
at 432 Main Street.
increased in 1984 to 75 cents within Danbury and Bethel and
$1.15 to New Milford. A multi-trip “Bye-Pass”
was introduced with 10 or 40 pre-paid trips.
membership grew in the mid 80’s with the addition of
the towns of Brookfield and Newtown in 1985, Redding and Ridgefield
in 1987 and New Fairfield in 1988. SweetHART service was expanded
to Brookfield in 1988.
operation of a Danbury Mall-Ridgefield route in 1988, Monday
thru Saturday, using Stripper Well restitution funds. After
a loss of state funding in 1991, a peak period weekday commuter
shuttle would operate, funded until the late 1990’s.
1 35’ transit buses were delivered to HART in 1989.
Some of these buses would remain in service until 2008.
IN THE 1990'S
major service upgrade was instituted in 1990, replacing the
day long 45 minute schedule.
Fixed route buses began operating seven routes weekdays on
a 30 minutes peak, 60 minutes off peak schedule on the urban
fixed route system. On Saturday buses operated with 60 minute
headways all day.
Photo of SweetHART user on the
cover of the 1986 Regional Bus Service Plan
after careful planning, HART management took the service operation
in house. Drivers became HART employees. Cost savings and
improved quality control were realized by the direct operation.
year HART operations moved to 62 Federal Road in Danbury,
the former location of the Danbury drive-in, while the administrative
office remained at 432 Main Street.
ran service in Westport, CT, in October, 1992. A DMV inspection
had found in excess of 300 defects on the eight transit vehicles
operated by Westport.
At the request of ConnDOT, HART provided bus transportation
for nine days in the town, running over 800 hours of service.
After the immediate crisis passed, Westport service was then,
and remains, operated by the nearby Norwalk Transit District.
of fare increases in 1992 and 1993 led to the base fare being
set at $1, with a zone 2 fare of $1.50, and a zone 3 fare
of $2. The system zones were Ridgefield (south zone), Danbury,
Bethel and Brookfield (central) and New Milford (north).
HART completed the construction of the downtown Danbury Pulse
Point on Kennedy Avenue. The expanded bus system of the mid
eighties had caused congestion at the intersection of Main
and West Streets, thus the need for a more spacious location.
The facility, designed by Johnson and Richter of Avon, CT
features a large canopied waiting area, passenger shelters
and a ticket agent.
Later that year the HART administrative office moved to 107
Newtown Road in Danbury. Five years later, in 1998, the administrative
and operations functions were consolidated at 62 Federal Road
after an extensive rehab and expansion of the Federal Road
Trolley, a single route that linked downtown Danbury points
of interest, began operation in 1996. The service originally
ran a rubber tired 1996 Cable Car Concepts mini trolley, augmented
by a Dupontrolley Frontenac trolley in 2002.
In the beginning, service ran 10 AM to 10 PM, Thursday and
Friday and Saturday noon to midnight. This was the first time
HART service operated after 6:30 PM.
New Jersey-based ShortLine operated an I-84 bus route that
served Newburgh, Fishkill, Patterson, Brewster and Danbury,
with stops at the Bonanza bus terminal on Mill Plain Road
at I-84 exit 2, and the Danbury Fair Mall.
While this service did not ultimately succeed, it led to the
two states discussing a Danbury-Brewster rail commuter feeder
mid-1990’s, intercity service was provided solely by
Bonanza Bus, operating a New York-Danbury-Southbury-Hartford
route and a NYC-Albany route that included Danbury, New Milford
Bonanza would lose its Mill Plain Road terminal, and temporarily
move operations to the HART Pulse Point. Bonanza opened a
permanent storefront terminal on Elm Street, across from the
Pulse Point, by year end.
Danbury-Brewster Shuttle began operation in 1998 with the
support of the New York and Connecticut DOT’s. The route
provides a timed transfer from park and ride lots in Danbury
to the Village of Brewster, NY, train station.
In 1995 HART replaced its fleet of 1982 buses with 10 Novabus
RTS transit coaches (now in a new blue and white scheme).
The RTS design dominated US transit systems in the 80’s
and 90’s. A retooled version of the bus, dubbed the
RTS Legend, recently resumed production.
BUS TRANSIT IN THE 21ST
welfare reform in the late 1990’s led to opportunities
for further expansion of transit services. Public transit was
rightly seen as key in the efforts to move low income residents
off public assistance. The catch phrase "Transportation
is the 'to' in Welfare to Work" became popular.
took a leadership role here, fostering the development of
regional committees of social service and transit providers
to study service options and look at gaps in the provision
of bus service.
The collaborative in the western part of the state, comprised
of the Housatonic, Litchfield Hills and Central Naugatuck
Regions came to be known as JobLinks.
the Housatonic Valley Region, it was quickly determined that
passengers and employers were most impacted by the lack of
bus service in the evenings and on Sunday. Rather than extending
all seven bus routes in the urban fixed route system, HART
ran several evening and Sunday pilots to develop a smaller
system to service the majority of the demand with the least
served major employment locations and housing complexes using
small buses like those used in SweetHART. This led to the
creation of three coordinated Jobs Access LOOP routes.
LOOP began in 1999, the New Milford LOOP in 2000 and the Newtown
Road/South Street LOOP in 2003. The LOOP buses run hourly
6:30 PM to 10:30 PM week nights, 5:30 to 10:30 PM Saturday
nights and from 9 AM to 7 PM on Sunday.
lived Ridgefield LOOP, following a route similar to the old
Ridgefield service during the weekday peak, operated from
2001 to 2006.
heels of the Jobs Access expansion came the Governor’s
Transportation Strategy Board. The Board was created by then
Governor Rowland to develop an overall transportation strategy
supported by the Transportation Strategy Board began operation
in the Housatonic Region in 2002. One was the Ridgefield-Katonah
Shuttle, patterned after the successful Danbury-Brewster Shuttle
(also with the involvement of NYSDOT).
The second was the Danbury-Norwalk Route 7 Link, an inter-regional
route between Danbury and Norwalk, operated jointly with the
Norwalk Transit District.
Both services operate during the weekday peak period. Small
buses are used on the Katonah Shuttle and ex-CT TRANSIT New
Flyer 40’ low floor buses are used on the Danbury-Norwalk
delivery of 10 Orion V transit buses in 2001, followed by
a single Orion VII low floor bus in 2002. Orion buses, manufactured
in Oriskany, New York, are widely used in the New York City
Bus became a subsidiary of Peter Pan bus lines in 2003. Peter
Pan intercity service is now limited to a single route between
New York, Danbury, Southbury, Waterbury and Hartford.
HART increased its fare to $1.25. HART was now running a 14
route system; interconnections with other systems and new
services had created a confusing fare structure.
It was determined that a simplified fare structure would be
more beneficial than maintaining the zone system. A more deeply
discounted 10-ride and monthly pass price was established
and fare zones were eliminated.
after many years of stagnant funding, a state dial-a-ride
grant program was created that allowed an increase in provision
of services in the SweetHART program.
Each town and city in the state received an apportionment
based on formula that took into account the square mileage
of the municipality and its senior population. HART began
SweetHART service to the Town of Roxbury at that time.
national transit ridership reached 10.3 billion trips per
year, the highest level in 50 years, and an increase of more
than 2% over the prior year. According to the American Public
Transit Association, public transportation use grew 32% percent
nationally from 1995 to 2007.
HART Gillig low floor bus, fresh off the line in December,
Gillig low floor buses, manufactured in Hayward, California,
were received by HART in 2008 to replace the 1995 RTS bus
transit funding program dubbed the Governor’s initiative
will enable a third interstate rail feeder shuttle to begin
in late fall 2008 between New Fairfield and the Southeast
Metro-North rail station.
HART is actively pursuing a resumption of Danbury-Bridgeport
service and enhancements to the Danbury-Waterbury services
operated by Peter Pan for the 2009 fiscal year.
HART is a significant regional asset, moving in step with
its member communities.
author acknowledges the assistance of Brian Stevens, Archivist
at WCSU's Haas Library, local historian Bill Devlin, the staff
Danbury Public Library, Jonathan Chew of HVCEO and others
for their assistance with this research project.