HEADLINES

Fare-Free Weekend/Holiday Bus Service To State Parks and Beaches in Connecticut this Summer

Governor Ned Lamont announced the launch of ParkConneCT, a pilot program offering new fare-free shuttles and enhanced existing transit service to various state parks and beaches this summer from Memorial Day weekend beginning Saturday, May 29, 2021, through Labor Day weekend.

The ParkConneCT program, a collaboration of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT), aims to connect people to Connecticut State Parks for the summer season to support seasonal employment, and promote recreational activity to improve physical and mental wellbeing. The initiative is part of Governor Ned Lamont’s broader “Weekend Wheels” program, which offers fare-free summertime weekend CTtransit bus service as part of the state’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

“Getting outdoors was critical for people during the pandemic, and will continue to be as we emerge from it,” Governor Lamont said. “Connecting residents to our wonderful state parks serves many purposes – it will help people get to their jobs if they have seasonal employment with DEEP, and will provide better access to the physical, mental, and educational benefits gained from spending time in our parks.”

“As we saw from the extraordinary number of visitors last year, people love Connecticut’s state parks,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “A huge thank you to Governor Lamont, and to CTDOT, for funding this initiative. This program will make it even easier for people to connect with these special places, whether you’re someone looking to cool off and enjoy some time outside with family and friends, or someone interested in coming to work in our parks as a member of DEEP’s seasonal staff.”

“This past year has been tough for so many reasons,” CTDOT Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “I can’t think of a better way to honor and thank Connecticut residents as we move forward to a new normal. All residents deserve access to our beautiful state parks, and we are here to help provide it.”

The ParkConneCT Pilot Program will run from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend (05/29/2021 to 09/06/2021). All buses will operate without collecting fares on Saturdays, Sundays (if operating), Memorial Day, Independence Day (observed 07/05/2021), and Labor Day as part of the Weekend Wheels program promotion. The Silver Sands Shuttle, Madison Shuttle, and Clinton Trolley will also be fare-free on weekdays.

The parks included in the ParkConneCT pilot program are Silver Sands State Park, Hammonasset Beach State Park, Sleeping Giant State Park, Bluff Point State Park, and Fort Trumbull State Park.

The state parks for this pilot program were selected based on criteria prioritizing seasonal employment levels, recreational summer activities, frequently traveled tourist destinations, and existing service connections. Routes were selected by performing an analysis using Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) and prioritizing areas where the most cost-effective improvements could be made to connect people to the parks. Funding for the ParkConneCT program is provided by CTDOT.

Service Schedule

Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison)

New Service

  • Hourly Sunday service on the Estuary 641: Old Saybrook/Madison
  • Saturday and Sunday service every two hours on the Estuary 645: Madison/Middletown that will now stop at Middle Beach
  • Free hourly daily service on the Clinton Trolley that now stops at Middle Beach
  • Free 30-minute daily service on the new Madison Shuttle that stops at Middle Beach

Existing Service

  • Hourly Monday-Saturday service on the Estuary 641: Old Saybrook/Madison
  • Monday-Friday service every two hours on the Estuary 645: Madison/Middletown that will now stop at Middle Beach
  • Shore Line East to Madison Train Station connects with the Madison Shuttle

Silver Sands State Park (Milford)

New Service

  • Free hourly daily service on the new Silver Sands Shuttle

Existing Service

  • Hourly Monday-Friday service on the Milford Route 3
  • 30-minute daily Coastal Link service to Milford Train Station
  • New Haven Line to Milford Train Station connects to Milford Route 3 and the Silver Sands Shuttle

Bluff Point State Park (Groton)

Existing Service

  • Hourly Monday-Saturday service on the SEAT Route 11: Groton Local Service

Fort Trumbull State Park (New London)

Existing Service

  • Hourly Monday-Saturday service on the SEAT Route 13: New London to Lawrence, Memorial Hospital and Ocean Beach
  • Shore Line East to New London Union Train Station connects with SEAT Route 13
  • Thames River Heritage Park River Taxi Harbor Cruise (service begins June 12th)

Sleeping Giant State Park (Hamden)

Existing Service

  • Hourly Monday-Sunday service on the New Haven Route 228: Whitney Ave
  • Hourly Monday-Sunday service on the New Haven Route 229: New Haven – Waterbury
  • Farmington Canal Heritage Trail

DEEP continues to hire for seasonal positions at beaches, campgrounds, parks, forests and boat launches. Positions are available in customer relations, facilities and grounds maintenance, environmental conservation and education, lifeguarding, office administration and more. Those interested in lifeguard positions should apply by June 1, 2021. To explore seasonal opportunities at DEEP, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Outdoor-Recreation/Work-Outdoors.

For more information on ParkConneCT, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/State-Parks/Park-Connect.

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