MERIDEN — The state Department of Transport has opened an express bus route between Waterbury Green and Meriden station, creating the first direct link between the two towns in decades.
“I am thrilled – really happy – that there is now direct bus service between the two towns,” Meriden Transit District Administrator Allan Church said in an email Monday. “While I was working for Meriden Transit, now almost 8 and a half years, I was asked ‘How do I get to Waterbury?’ more than any other question.
Bus route 940 serving Meriden and Waterbury will operate free of charge until February 28. The new line operates only on weekdays, offering journey times of 30 to 40 minutes between the two cities. From Waterbury, the bus departs from Waterbury Green before stopping at Waterbury Station and Meriden Station.
From Meriden, the route departs from Meriden train station with a stop at Waterbury Green. According to the DOT, the route uses coach-style buses that include free Wi-Fi and mobile device charging ports for passengers.
“We are pleased to announce this new express bus service between Meriden and Waterbury,” said Rich Andreski, DOT Office Chief for Public Transportation. “The new road will better connect residents of the two towns and provide better access to the Waterbury line, the Hartford line and many destinations across the state.”
The route operates from approximately 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. with half-hourly service during peak hours and hourly service at noon and evening. The service has been designed to arrive at Meriden station 10 minutes before Hartford line trains. The bus will also wait 10 minutes for connecting train passengers to board the bus. This was done to ensure easy connections to and from Hartford line trains.
Before the 940 bus, a bus trip from Meriden to Waterbury could be daunting and take hours.
There are three possible scenarios, Church said. A person could take local bus 215 from Meriden to New Haven, change to local 229 and travel to Waterbury, via routes 10 and 70. One could take local 501 to New Britain and transfer to expressway 928 , Hartford-Southington-Waterbury.
It was also possible to take a train from Meriden to Hartford to take the 928 express route. However, the 928 express has been suspended since September 4, as have the express routes to Old Saybrook and Bristol. The suspension is due to disagreements with operators, according to the DOT.
A final way to get to Waterbury was to wait until one of Meriden’s local buses was about to finish its shift and return with it as an unscheduled, but still chargeable, local trip to Waterbury Green, said Church.
“All of these trips took significantly longer than the new 940 route, which according to the schedule should take between 30 and 40 minutes,” Church said. “The new service is just great, as far as I’m concerned.”
The 940 express service is convenient for commuters on the Hartford Train line looking to get into Waterbury and for those on the Waterbury-Bridgeport line, although Church expects it to be just as much of a boon for daily commuters making shuttle from Meriden or Waterbury or vice versa. .
“Fortunately, the service continues until quite late in the evening,” Church said.
The only reservation the church has is the ticket price. After February 28, the state charges commuter express fares, rather than the local bus fare. The DOT has set a “Stage Two” price, meaning a one-way ticket will cost about twice as much as a one-way local bus ticket ($3.20 vs. $1.85). The other prices are comparable.
“But still, it’s a pretty good deal,” he said.
Meriden’s director of economic development, Joseph Feest, also praised the new bus route.
“Anytime you can make transportation easier for people who don’t have a car or just don’t want to drive, I think that’s a good idea,” Feest said. “We had talked about wanting to become more of a transportation hub at our station and that’s definitely a plus in that category. Connecting our two cities should facilitate trade between us. Workers who live in either city now have reliable transportation to take.
Rosanne Ford, president of the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, echoed Feest and added that transportation was a legislative priority for the chamber. The free fares will entice passengers to use the new service, whether commuting to work, visiting family and friends, shopping in the area or continuing a journey on the Hartford line, he said. she stated.
“Expanding to weekend service would be ideal, depending on ridership of course,” Ford said. “This is particularly important for those who use the service to get to and from work, which may include weekend schedules.”
Lynn Ward, president and chief executive of the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the express service will have a regional effect in the northeast. The Waterbury to Springfield region is a region of over one million highly skilled workers and many top employers, a region ripe for continued growth. Express service is also a selling point for employers hiring new workers.
“Providing people with more efficient options for getting around can only be a benefit to the region, especially as state and federal governments place greater emphasis on improving infrastructure, which will lead to delays on the motorways in the future, especially around Waterbury with the ‘mixmaster’ upgrades,” Ward said.
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