by Brent Addleman
Fare-free and additional bus services will once again be offered in Connecticut this summer, Gov. Ned Lamont said.
The governor announced the ParkConneCT program, a pilot program last summer, will provide no fare shuttle and enhanced transit services to state parks and beaches. The program opens Saturday and runs through Labor Day weekend.
“Our state parks are one of the best things about living in Connecticut, and connecting our residents to them is important,” Lamont said in a release. “The ParkConneCT program increases access to the physical, mental, and educational benefits gained from spending time outdoors in these beautiful spaces. It can also help people who have seasonal employment with DEEP get to their workplace. I encourage residents to utilize this service and spend time in our parks this summer.”
The program, according to the release, is designed to get residents to outdoor recreational spots while supporting seasonal employment. The program is run through a partnership between the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Transportation.
DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said that many state residents have been able to discover state parks in addition to supporting physical and mental wellness.
“Unfortunately, transportation access can be a barrier that keeps many people from being able to access these wonderful places,” Dykes said in the release. “This program makes it easier for people to have a fun, rejuvenating recreational experience in some of the most beautiful settings in our state, and it can also serve as a transportation option for some of our valued seasonal staff.”
The state’s buses, according to the release, will be running fare-free through Dec. 1 through adoption of the fiscal year 2023 budget, except for premium ridesharing programs.
According to the release, the Wheels 2U and Valley Transit District’s ridesharing services, which are on-demand, will only be fare-free on weekends and holidays for use within the ParkConneCT program.
State parks included in the program are Fort Trumbull; Hammonasset; Indian Well; Osbornedale; Sherwood Island; Silver Sands; and Sleeping Giant. The parks were chosen given seasonal employment levels, recreational activities, tourism destinations, and service connections.
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Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.