The Future Involves Fewer Cars?
NEW HAVEN >> The city’s transportation and parking chief is predicting that within a decade or less, large numbers of people living in the region will not own cars, eschewing their own vehicles for what he called “micro transportation.”
Doug Hausladen, the city’s director of Transportation, Traffic & Parking, made his bold prediction at the second in a series of public forums designed to discuss the need for better public transportation options in the city and across the region. Tuesday’s Transportation on Tap event at BAR on Crown Street focused largely on ways to improve bus service as well as safety for those who choose to commute using bicycles.
The event, which used a panel discussion-style format, drew about 50 people. It was organized by goNewHavengo, a coalition working on creating sustainable transportation options.
Asked to explain the concept of micro-transportation after the meeting, Hausladen offered a futuristic vision of what New Haven’s transportation network might look like.
“Mass transit covers most of you ride,” he said. “But how do you get to a mass transit line? We’re talking a lot about micro-transit centers in our neighborhoods and driverless vehicles that can take you from micro-transit centers into where our mass transit is located.”
But the city’s current transportation system leaves a lot to be desired, panelists at the event agreed.
Anstress Farwell, president of the New Haven Urban Design League, called the CT Transit bus system that serves the city “separate, but unequal.” The organization is an independent voice on planning, zoning and development issues affecting New Haven’s neighborhoods
“If you live on the west side of the city, you can’t get over to the east side,” Farwell said.
Part of the reason for that, she said, is because the state Department of Transportation is more focused on building roads and accommodating drivers than it is on mass transit. Farwell called CT Transit “a step-child within DOT.”
“The economy is moving toward the cities,” she said. “We have a chance to make land more valuable by putting good transportation through a zone. You will get to that (a critical mass of riders needed for a more robust transportation infrastructure) if you plan properly.”
State Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven, acknowledged that many of his constituents have trouble getting jobs because of the length of time that it take to commute by bus as well as their schedule and the limited number of routes that serve the city.
“How do I get there if I don’t have a car?” Winfield asked. “Is the bus going to be running late? This is not a question of what we should be doing; it’s a question of what we should be doing in a given situation.”
Hausladen tweeted during the forum that 14 percent of the unemployed people surveyed by the Greater New Haven NAACP reported using a bicycle to get to a job interview.
But not everyone can afford to have their own bicycles, said Selia Mosquera, the executive director of NeighborWorks. The organization works to provide low-income families with quality, healthy and safe living arrangements and Mosquera said many inner-city youth simply don’t own bicycles.
“It’s very difficult for someone to take a bus to go to work,” Mosquera said. “For single moms with two kids, how is she going to drop them off at a day care center when she has to be at work at 9 o’clock?”