Rocky Hill, Conn. — Michael Baker International was recognized with the 2015 Urbanism Award from the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) New England Chapter for its role in developing CTfastrak, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system between New Britain and Hartford, Conn.  As the overall program manager, Michael Baker led the design and construction of the nine-and-a-half mile busway, one of the longest BRT lines in the country, engineered to maximize efficiency for commuters and reduce travel times for buses.

“Michael Baker International led the program’s design, construction and operations implementation phases for this state-of-the-art mass transit system that is now capable of sustaining growth in and around Hartford, and our team is pleased with the recognition from CNU New England,” said Scott Delesdernier, P.E., vice president of Michael Baker’s New England operations and deputy program manager.  “With a full continuum of innovative solutions for BRT systems, Michael Baker is positioned to reinvigorate mass transit systems in cities across the globe that are seeking to move people from place to place more efficiently.”

Michael Baker’s plan included a bus-only roadway with minimal stops, a system for off-board fare collections to reduce rider backup when paying and platform-level boarding to seamlessly allow commuters to enter and exit the buses. During construction, the Michael Baker team helped to commission CTfastrak through ridership forecasts, bus schedule development, information technology implementation, and safety and security management. In addition, the company launched an extensive local outreach program with community events, town hall meetings and media activation to educate taxpayers on how the BRT system can contribute to urban development and more efficient mass transportation. Ultimately, Michael Baker’s efforts drove adoption of the service and translated into ridership numbers that surpassed initial projections.

The region’s first dedicated mass transit system in more than 50 years, CTfastrak carries more than 16,500 weekday riders each day, and is designed to reduce traffic congestion and shorten commute times for commuters in Hartford, West Hartford, Newington and New Britain.

The Michael Baker plan for CTfastrak expanded beyond an overhaul of mass transit, instead, aiding considerably in urban redevelopment through smart growth with the idea of Transit Oriented Development. Coupled with a five-mile, multi-use trail along the southern half of the guideway, the team integrated 10 transit stations that connect individuals via bus to several key locations, including health care centers, educational institutions, shopping centers, recreational destinations, businesses and residential areas. This connectivity empowers urban planners to develop housing and businesses in a reasonably dense design that encourages people to take advantage of public transportation.