The Vision of Connect Middletown

Noah Kahan
Mar 24, 2018 · 7 min read

Currently, Middletown is a highly inaccessible city to get to if you dont have a car, or the resources to take Uber, Lyft, or Zipcar whenever convenient. With Connect Middletown, we seek to change this by enhancing public transit in the region and repurposing already existing resources at a low cost.

Connect Middletown seeks to revitalize the M-Link service, a route serviced by Middletown Area Transit (MAT). This proposal strives to enhance Middletown’s connection to the wider region by keeping local M-Link service in place and launching the M-Link Express, a modified route that will provide a faster ride to Meriden Rail Station, where this past June, the new commuter rail, CTRail Hartford Line, began service between New Haven, CT, Hartford, CT, and Springfield, MA.

Connect Middletown also seeks to bring the U-Pass Program to Wesleyan University, essentially giving students access to all of Connecticut’s public transit options. If the prospect of M-Link Express succeeds, Middletown will be closer than ever for the millions of people who use the Northeast Corridor rail network. The M-Link Express will allow residents, students, and visitors to more easily access all that the region has to offer in an affordable, efficient and sustainable way. The M-Link Express route will connect:

  1. Middlesex Community College (MxCC) in Middletown
  2. Main Street Downtown Bus Terminal
  3. Wesleyan University (Fisk Hall)
  4. Middletown Plaza (Staples, Middlesex Urgent Care, Big Lots, etc)
  5. Meriden Rail Station
  6. (via CTTransit at Meriden Station) MxCC@Platt High School

On the way back from Meriden Station, the bus will stop at:

  1. Washington Plaza (Price Chopper, Starbucks, etc)
  2. Wesleyan University (William/High Street)
  3. Main Street Downtown Bus Terminal
  4. Middlesex Community College (MxCC) in Middletown

Recent public transportation projects in Connecticut, like CTFastrak, have provided an affordable, frequent, fast and reliable means of transportation in a state that heavily relies on car ownership and the plethora of CTTransit buses that are hard to navigate with confusing transfer schemes. Middletown’s public transportation needs to be improved by allowing greater access to the region though principles of transportation equity and mobility justice. Transit equity represents an affordable, time efficient transit system that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable situated in a localized context.

Why M-Link Express?

Public Transit that is Competitive with Driving

Running an M-Link Express route that goes from Middlesex Community College to Meriden Rail Station via Route 66 to I-691 will take around 33 minutes without traffic (one-way). From Wesleyan University, the M-Link Express trip to Meriden Station will take around 17 min via Route 66 to I-691. This proposal for an M-Link Express to launch in conjunction with the CTRail Line will make the trip time to New Haven Union Station from Middlesex Community College take approximately (1 hour) with public transit (33 minute bus, 27 minute train), compared to the average 45 minute drive to New Haven. The M-Link Express will also make it faster and more affordable to travel to all the towns and cities that are served by the commuter rail line.

(The times may be subject to change based on route planning)

Repurposing Already Exisitng Infrastructure at a Low Cost

The big difference of the M-Link Express route is that it starts at Middlesex Community College and takes I-691, instead of taking the local routes to get to Meriden Station. The M-Link Express is not using new buses, but already exsiting infrastrcuture. In this climate of green infrastrcure, people usually think of electric buses or hydrogen powered buses, but this costs taxpayers a lot of money. The point is that the solution to more efficient, equitable, and frequent public transportation does not have to cost a lot of money.

Affordable, Reliable, Accessible Transportation for the Wesleyan, MxCC and Middletown Communities

If this proposal is implemented, traveling to and from Middletown to commute and visit places in the region will be possible without the expense and hassle of car ownership, which is inaccessible to elderly residents, many students and low-income individuals. In addition, the frequent use of rideshare (Uber, Lyft) and taxi services are unaffordable and unsustainable for many students and residents in the region.

Transfer to CTRail Hartford Line

CTRail Hartford Line is a new commuter rail line going from New Haven, CT to Springfield, MA, making a stop in Meriden. This service will run in conjunction with Amtrak service with 17 trips per day between New Haven and Hartford, with 12 of which will continue onto Springfield. According to the Connecticut Department of Transportation, CTRail will run every 45 minutes during the morning and evening peak hours, and approximately every 60–90 minutes during off-peak hours. Weekday service will begin at 6am and run as late as 11pm.

The Vision for UPass Program at Wesleyan

Students who attend public colleges or universities in the state of Connecticut, pay a $20 transportation fee (per semester) for a “U-Pass” as part of tuition. The U-Pass allows students access to all of Connecticut’s public transit options.

Students can also access Metro North New Haven Line within the state of Connecticut and if students want to continue to New York, they will have to pay the difference from Greenwich, CT to Grand Central, which costs $10.25 (one-way, off peak). This saves students $7.50, from the regular price from New Haven, which is $17.75 (one-way, off peak). Students can pay for the rest of their trip via the MTAeTix app, available on Android and IPhone. The goal would be for Wesleyan University to get access to U-Passes.

Key Systems Participating in the UPass Program pertaining to Middletown (Middlesex County):

  • CTtransit statewide (including CTtransit Express and CTfastrak)
  • 9 Town Transit (Goes from Middletown to places on the shoreline, such as Old Saybrook and Essex)
  • Middletown Area Transit
  • CTRail Hartford Line
  • Shoreline East

The program also includes train travel Metro North New Haven Line within the state of Connecticut

  • Greenwich, CT is the last stop in CT before NY (New Haven>>Grand Central would then be $10.25)
  • Savings of $7.50 per trip to New York from New Haven

How to Pay for the Wesleyan U-Pass

Student Opt-Out Transportation Fee

Connecticut Public Transit Systems:

Also, for those who are Wesleyan University students, faculty, or staff, please take this 7 minute survey to help make Connect Middletown a reality!

How Connect Middletown Started?

Alex Garcia ‘17, when he was a senior at Wesleyan University, believed in the importance of transit equity and worked with Middletown Area Transit to make the M-Link and other MAT routes known to the Wesleyan community and show the ease of using public transit. Alex had the vision of connecting Middletown to the wider region with the goal of public transit being user friendly, time-efficient, and having a greater role in addressing transit inequities. Alex engaged with Middletown Area Transit to begin to put the bus times and routes on Google Maps. Alex wrote many articles outlining his work, which are shown bellow.

Over the summer of 2017, Noah Kahan ‘19 took over the project and since then has expanded the vision to include Middlesex Community College and their satilite campus in Meriden. Noah finished the comprehensive Connect Middletown proposal and has beeing working with Middletown Area Transit, CTDOT and other stakeholders in helping to complete it. He is currently lobbying state legislators, Middletown City Officals, Wesleyan Administrators and other stakeholders imperative to the success of Connect Middletown. If you have any questions, contact him at nkahan[at]

Connect Middletown

Connect Middletown

    Noah Kahan

    Written by

    Wesleyan University ’19

    Connect Middletown

    Connect Middletown