- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—NEW LONDON — Two proposals for improved bus service in the region, offered for public comment this week, would streamline Southeast Area Transit routes, make service faster and require fewer transfers, consultants said.

One option would add hourly service on the system’s “backbone,” a route between Norwich and New London, while eliminating service in some less heavily traveled areas, such as East Lyme.

Under both plans, the existing Run 3, which travels from New London through Waterford to East Lyme, would be modified and no longer stop in East Lyme. Run 10, which travels from Mystic to Pawcatuck, would be eliminated.

This first option, Plan A, would offer hourly service on a streamlined route between New London and Norwich. The route, which consolidates existing Runs 1 and 101, would also discontinue stops to Montville Commons and Uncas On Thames, according to the plan.

The second option, Plan B, would provide service only every two hours on this route. But the plan would keep some service to East Lyme by offering a new route from New London to East Lyme through Rope Ferry Road and would also retain a portion of Run 10 in Pawcatuck.

The proposals unveiled this week are part of a study on bus service overseen by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, along with SEAT.

Overall, both plans were designed to provide more direct, frequent service and feature realigned bus routes that often run along the same path in both directions, said Anne Galbraith, a principal with ASG Planning in Providence. The current system often uses “loops,” in which the length of the routes are different depending on the direction of travel.

Galbraith said these “loops” caused confusion among riders at times and made one portion of their trip much longer than the other.

For example, the existing Run 2 travels from the Norwich Transportation Center down through Ledyard on Colonel Ledyard Highway, and proceeds through Groton to New London. It travels back from New London to Groton, and then through Ledyard on Route 12 up to Norwich.

The new plans would concentrate service only on the more traveled portion on Route 12 between Norwich and Groton, and eliminate the Colonel Ledyard Highway component.

Another “looped” run in Groton, Run 11, would essentially be split into two routes, both which will travel over the Gold Star Bridge, said Galbraith.

The plans also state that they revise the Three Rivers Community College Express shuttle bus as a Norwich-New London Express.

Either plan A or B could be achieved with SEAT’s current $6.5 million budget. A third option, called a service expansion plan, would cost about 20 percent more if all the recommendations were implemented, according to SEAT general manager Michael Carroll.

The service expansion plan would add more Sunday runs, a new express bus between Foxwoods and Norwich, and a seasonal shuttle in Mystic. An express bus between Norwich and New London would also run all year, not just when Three Rivers Community College is in session.

On Monday, residents looked over maps of the proposals and indicated their priorities to an outreach team at New London’s Union Station.

New London resident Susan Monger said it’s important to have good mass transit in New London and for people to easily get to work.

Deborah Donovan, also of New London, said she preferred option B, which retains service in a wider area. She said an express bus between Norwich and Foxwoods is a great idea and was in favor of service that would help people easily get to their jobs.

“People have to be able to get to work without spending two hours on a bus,” she said.

On Tuesday, an outreach team will be at Plaza Court in Groton from 8 to 9 a.m. and at the Norwich Transit Center from 3 to 4 p.m. A community meeting will take place from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Tuesday at the Norwich Transit Center.

The SEAT board of directors is expected to next discuss the comments received. Changes to routes would occur next spring or summer at the earliest.

SEAT improvement plans and service evaluations are available at https://seatbusstudy.com.

[email protected]”>[email protected]

Twitter: @KimberlyDrelich

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