Danbury Branch Line Shuttle Feasibility Study
This study is a continuation of the Route 7 Corridor Travel Options
Implementation Plan. The study was completed in 2001 for HVCEO by
HART. This study looks at the potential for shuttles to rail stations
and employer vanpools/shuttles from stations to worksites. Traditional
bus shuttle services are not recommended due to the low density of
passengers in the region. Alternatively, subscription shuttle services
are recommended for curb-to-curb service. HART and MetroPool put together
a short list of employment clusters in the region. The study also
looks into the feasibility of electric station cars, similar to a
demonstration program instituted by the New York Power Authority and
Ford Motor Company in Westchester and Putnam Counties, New York.
Metro-North currently operates 10 trips per day between Danbury
and Grand Central Station, 3 of which are peak period through trains.
On weekends and holidays, 6 trips are provided between Danbury and
South Norwalk, where passengers can pick up trains to New York City.
HART currently serves the Bethel Station and the proposed Brookfield
and New Milford Stations. Even with service expansion, it would be
difficult to extend bus service to the Danbury Station. The timing
between rail arrivals and departures and bus arrivals and departures
would remain poor.
Bus shuttle services are generally not recommended, based on low
passenger density and the lack of potential ridership. Thus, subscription
bus shuttle services are recommended. The subscription service would
be operated like Dial-A-Ride service and would take passengers from
home curb to train station curb. If demand became high enough, passengers
could meet at a centrally located church or municipal lot to catch
the shuttle. Passengers will pay a pre-determined subscription fare
on a monthly basis. The other station connectivity option is the electric
station car program. Electric cars would not be owned by users, but
would be provided to subscribers or leased. Station cars would be
driven to the train station from a user’s home, and then the
car would be parked and charged at the station. Next, the car would
be picked up by a different user and passenger and driven to a worksite
and used during the day for work-related travel. The electric cars
have zero emissions, allow for more compact parking, but only have
a 2-passenger capacity.
The Branchville Station is a good candidate for subscription shuttle
services because of current parking shortages and interest in shuttles.
The subscription shuttle should also have a designated stop near routes
33 and 35 in Ridgefield. Major employers with potential for vanpools
are ASML and Norco.
West Redding riders are very supportive of a subscription-based
shuttle service, but the numbers do not support fixed-route shuttle
service. Parking is currently under capacity, so there is less active
demand. Electric station cars are recommended to be tested at the
station and could preclude the need to expand parking. Major employers
with potential for vanpools are Lee Farm Corporate Park, Barden Corporation,
BF Goodrich, and Apple Ridge Rd. Office Park. The Danbury Fair Mall
is also located in the area, but the types of jobs and variability
of shifts do not make it a good candidate for a vanpool from rail
A subscription shuttle to the Bethel
Station with 1 or 2 stops in Newton could be warranted after the implementation
of Phase 2 of the Route 7 Corridor Travel Options Implementation Plan.
Projections show a shortage in parking with the anticipated ridership
increases, so a shift from automobile to shuttle will be necessary.
Electric station cars should be initiated during Phase 2 of the Implementation
Plan in anticipation of increased parking demand. Potential employers
who may be interested in vanpools are located on the Danbury/Bethel
line and include the Shelter Rock/Great Pasture Rd. and Francis Clarke
Industrial Park areas. Other employers include Eaton Corporation,
Fuel Cell Energy and Cannondale.
The current rider survey showed strong support for a rail shuttle
at the Danbury Station. A HART Danbury Pulse Point Connector could
fulfill the need for a shuttle. The Pulse Point and the Station are
less than a mile apart, so the shuttle could be operated on a subscription/fixed
route basis. Currently, there is abundant parking at the Danbury Station,
so electric station cars should only be considered when parking becomes
in short supply. Commerce Park, Sealed Air and Branson Ultrasonics
are potential employers for vanpool services.
Ridership at Danbury North is not expected to be sufficient to warrant
a feeder shuttle. The Station has easy access from I-84, so it is
possible that it will attract more Newton and Southbury passengers.
Potentially, a shuttle from the park and ride lots at exits 10 and
11 off I-84 would be useful if the ridership base grew enough. Electric
station cars could also become important because parking space is
somewhat constrained. n The Berkshire Corporate Park has the potential
for an employer vanpool.
The potential Brookfield Station already has HART bus service, so
no shuttle services are warranted. Electric station cars could be
used to enhance parking capacity. Industrial parks on Silvermine and
Pocono Roads as well as UPS and Dade Behring could be potential vanpool
employers, but the success of the vanpool program to these employers
is not likely to be high.
The proposed New Milford Station also already has HART service.
Electric station cars are recommended. Kimberly Clark is the largest
employer in the area, but it already has HART service, so it is unlikely
that vanpool service would be necessary.