Big Wheels – Two Wheels – #WATWB

I had been planning to share the first part of this story for months. Actually, I’ve been planning to share it since before WATWB was a thing. It was about 10 years ago when the various government agencies started planning to add light-rail service between New Haven, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts. At first, we thought it would never happen. Then, several years ago, they started improving the rails and stations between those two cites. Most of the line has been double-tracked, so trains can pass without heading to a siding and many of the stations have been expanded.

Sadly, my home town station is not among the recently improved. The rails through Windsor Locks will be tricky to improve, as the single track runs between the road and the west bank of the Windsor Locks Canal. We have signed agreements with AMTRAK (the nationwide train service that owns the tracks) and the CT State Department of Transportation to relocate our train station, but construction of the new station has not yet begun. That’s OK, the train stops here, and it goes south to New Haven and north to Springfield, so that’s all that matters.

Boarding – June 2018

The Hartford Courant covered the inaugural run between the stations, and I’m happy to report that it was a success:

“The Hartford Line tweeted late Saturday that “more than 6,300 people took a ride” on opening day. A train crew member said 264 people rode the first train from New Haven to Springfield. The next train, the 9:55 a.m. southbound, was so crowded the train crew gave up trying to count.

At points, it was standing-room only and at Hartford some passengers were turned away because the train was too crowded. The crowds continued through the day Saturday. Amtrak added a 2 p.m. extra train out of Springfield to handle the crush of riders.”

The other bit of good “transit’ news came as a bit of a surprise – Lime Bikes has set up shop in Hartford. Again, the Hartford Courant was reporting success:

“LimeBike rolled into Hartford last week like a thunderstorm. Three hundred bright green, dockless bicycles were launched into the city, initially concentrating around downtown, the train station and Bushnell Park. The weather was perfect, and the bicycles were soon underneath riders.

For those who missed it, Limebikes are put out for anyone to use when they need to get somewhere. A LimeBiker hires a bicycle via phone app and pays just $1 for the first 30 minutes, with the price going up after to help keep the bicycles close. The bicycles were spotted with riders from all walks of life.”

Lime Bikes have been so well-received that the company added 200 more bikes to the mix last week.

In addition to appealing to my love of trains and bicycles, these transit options bring area residents without private transportation better opportunities for employment, housing and education. – This just in: The Hartford Line reported almost 11,000 riders in their first full week of operation!


The “We are the World” Blogfest has extended its year-long journey and this is month three of year-two. This blogfest’s goal is to spread the message of light, hope and love in today’s world. We are challenging all participants to share the positive side of humanity. This month’s co-hosts Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Mary J Giese, Dan Antion,  Damyanti Biswas , welcome participants and encourage all to join in during future months. #WATWB is a blog hop on the last Friday of every month. Click HERE to check out the intention and rules of the blogfest and feel free to sign up at any time between now and February of 2019.

59 thoughts on “Big Wheels – Two Wheels – #WATWB

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  1. Dan, this is a wonderful entry for #WATWB. I know how much you love trains, so this is perfect. It’s always a good initiative when it keeps people moving and getting to where they need to be. I’m especially appreciative and interested in the LimeBikes. With so many trail and an increasing number of bike lines, I could see the bikes being readily used around here. Thanks for co-hosting this month and sharing this positive story. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. The Lime Bikes seem like a great idea. Ride from Point-A to Point-B and leave the bike. The app tells you where the closest bike is. I’m going to try both the train and the bikes in a few weeks. I’ll give you a full report.

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  2. What lovely bits of news! You know how you are with trains? That’s kinda how I am with train stations. So thank you for the pictures! I had never heard of those bikes — that’s a great idea! Wonder how you hire them if you don’t have a smartphone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In some cities, they have options where you can preload a special credit-like card with cash, and use those to pay for the ride. They’ve said that, if the trial run is a success, they will consider adding that as an option in Hartford.

      I’m glad you like the train stations!

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  3. I love these stories. How fabulous there’s been such a positive response to the new train option. We have a similar shared-for-hire bike program here in Chicago as well, with 580 stations and 5,800 bikes. I look forward to the day when these sorts of programs are widely available across the country.

    Thanks for this inspiring share, and for co-hosting #WATWB this month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah! I’ve seen the docked bikes in other cities. I never saw dockless options before. My question is what if I want to ride to a park and then walk. If someone takes that bike, will I be able to get back? It’s an interesting concept, and I hope it grows to the point where people won’t have to worry about availability.

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    1. I really like both concepts. The idea that I can take a train to and from a baseball game for less than half of what it would cost to park my car, is amazing to me. I wish I could take it to work, but, sadly, I work on the other side of the river.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I came home from Baltimore, MD yesterday by train. I rode next to a woman who had two little kids in the seats in front of us. It was fun. She was worried about the noise they were making, but I told her I really didn’t mind – they were little kids on a train – I feel the same way!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Those rent-a-bikes have become quite popular here in Buffalo over the past few months. I see stands for them everywhere. Trains, not so much. I think most people here would just as soon drive themselves, or fly if their destination is too far away. Which is a shame, because personally I enjoy a nice train ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the bikes are a great idea. It will be interesting to see if these grow in popularity. I am planning to try one in a few weeks. I’ll let you know.

      I think the train works here, because it connects to an existing large commuter train network in New Haven.

      Thanks for visiting, CM.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay trains and bikes! We have several dockless bike systems here but, unfortunately, a lot of people aren’t happy with them. Lots of the bikes get left all over the place, including clogging sidewalks. Like so many ideas: the concept is good, but the you add people and it messes it up. I hope it works better where you live because I think it’s a great idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Dan – interesting to read about … and how the concept of dockless bikes – hadn’t read about those yet … now I know. Love the colour of the LimeBikes … and if only people were responsible … I guess with more things chipped and linked – perhaps the tracking back to the user will be possible.

    I wish they’d kept our branch lines in England after the War – a distinct mistake that was … now many have been ‘cannibalised’ into bike and walk-lanes that they can’t be undone to get back to being railway lines once more.

    On Vancouver Island – they wish the railway still functioned … the line is still there … but – who knows! There isn’t much space with the, as I described it recently, ‘monstrous piece of granite’ between Victoria and ‘up island’ where I am … the highway is dangereuse to say the least …

    But great that you’re getting options – and look forward to hearing your take on things in due course .. cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Hilary. Any time you’re in a tight space, you’ve got nowhere to go with traffic. Rail makes so much sense.

      So far, the bikes look like they’re being respected. Time will tell. We’ve lost a lot of rail lines to bike trails. I like the trails, but you’re right, there’s no going back.

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  7. Love the success of the rail additions…super. Have not heard about the bikes…intriguing and sounds like a great idea for condensed urban areas. Not sure it would do well in the urban areas of Phoenix in the summer, but heh the rest of the year works.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the rails, both light and heavy. Love the the peddly-treddly lime bikes. Sounds like Hartford Summer is really looking up. It almost makes me want to book a flight over. A great story for our WATWB. Thanks for sharing, Dan, and for cohosting again.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Dan. I’m not sure how I missed this post, but I shouldn’t be surprised — I don’t seem to know *when* I am lately. So let me get it out of my system: *Trains!!! Wooo-hoo!* Kudos to the Hartford Courant.
    The Lime Bikes are cool. I haven’t seen them here. For a while there were bike stands of loaners in my community. However they were on a very steep hill, and very crowded narrow two-lane streets with cars parked bumper to bumper on both sides of the curving road. I think the placement was not to their advantage…
    I’ll come back later and visit your Saturday post. Tummy rubs to Maddie, and chin rubs to MiMi and MuMu. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Teagan. This was a crazy week, but I’m settling into a hot weekend. Maddie and the fur-girls are trying to stay cool.

      The Lime Bikes go wherever you go and get left there. The app shows where the closest one is to your position. I’m going to give them a try in a few weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the photos here, especially that train station. Those Hartford doors, too. :)
    I think it’s wonderful when communities work toward improvement and it sounds like the bikes and trains are a hit there.
    You know how I feel about our need for trains…
    We have some sorta bike share here, but I haven’t heard anyone who’s enjoyed it. I’ve only heard complaints. They have time limits, even with annual passes, and while in theory, you could bike to another bike location, you’re not guaranteed to find a bike there. Overage charges are no joke, not even a proximity issue. It seems ours are geared more toward leisure than transportation alternative.
    They’re yellow and I like that. They do have people moving and I like that. But I don’t think they’re very helpful.
    Hopefully your bike system there is more helpful, while also being lime and getting people moving :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I haven’t seen a review yet, other than that there weren’t enough. That’s when the company added 200 more, so maybe responsive folks.

      I’m hoping to take a train into Hartford and ride a bike up to my buddy’s condo in July. We’re going to a baseball game from there. I’ll give you a report.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What an uplifting article, thanks for sharing, makes me want to rent a lime bike and ride a train coming into that beautiful train station. Actually makes me homesick for the mainland, as we in Hawaii call the continental U.S.–no train stations here on the island. There’s a remnant of a small train that used to round the southeast tip of Oahu, to carry plantation workers into Chinatown, I think. But now it’s a brief ride and a tourist draw. LOVED your pictures and the way you embedded the captions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I hope to ride the train and try a Lime Bike later this month. I’ll let you know how that goes. The train should do well, since it connects to the active Northeast Corridor network.

      Like

  12. Beautiful pictures of the trains, tracks and stations, Dan. Hopefully your new station will be built but like you said, at least the train stops there now. When I lived in the San Francisco area, I commuted via train and loved it. It made the commute so much more relaxing than driving. Love the rental bikes via smartphone. Hard to make it easier!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post thanks Dan. Just returned from being abroad for several weeks (hence did not partake in last week’s #WATWB) but we spent a few days in Amsterdam where bikes and lanes are legion! Reduces cars on the roads for one thing … I like the idea of hiring one via app and leaving at the next place for others ..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Susan. We have such a car culture in this country, that I think it will take a long time to change peoples’ minds. But an easy and frequent train, a bike to get you around the city – it might work for a start.

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  14. I liked the morning sun on the scene of Meriden’s expanded station, Dan. 🌞 That Wallingford updated wooden station was such a nice beauty to see.
    The Hartford doors with big stone blocks building is my favorite shot today. You could have used this one for a Thursday Doors post!
    Hope your return to work after the day off wasn’t too rough. Almost the weekend for you! My week off is almost “up.” Great times, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. I did feature Hartford’s Union Station on an earlier Thursday, but I don’t think I had a door taken from the train. It’s funny, I’m not normally on the side of the train that gets hit with the sun, but I wanted to see the new stations.

      Two 2-day mini work weeks will feel good when tomorrow comes to a close. I’m glad you’ve had a good vacation.

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  15. Love the pictures. I think rail routes are so convenient and better than cars. I’m glad that in India we have a huge rail network. Although, these days we are unhappy with the increasing ticket prices that is forcing travellers to take flights instead of trains.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. These days the railway tickets and flight tickets cost is almost the same. However, there is a slight difference. The first class railway ticket will cost you nearly the same as Economy class flight ticket. So, now it is all a matter of perspective and choice. If you want comfort you can choose train but your travel time can be a day long. If you pick flights you can reach your destination in few hours but you sacrifice the first class experience. It’s time vs comfort.

        Liked by 1 person

            1. You have mentioned that before. It seems odd, but I think if we had a more extensive rail service in this country, I might be saying the same thing. I don’t enjoy flying.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I was watching a video on AmTrack that focused on it. So, there was a point where the narrator said that AmTrack trains are usually never on time. He said AmTrack has the punctuality rating of just 31%. Is it? Also, the video said that after getting down the train one has to take another mode of transport to reach the destination which is why most Americans prefer car or plane over train.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. I’ve gone from my town to Washington, D.C. 8 or 9 times in the past 5 years. It’s a 6 1/2 hour ride, and the train has always been on-time, within 10-20 minutes. In my experience, that’s as good as any airline. And, AMTRAK doesn’t have to means to manipulate the on-time metrics the way airlines do.

              As for driving, I’ve driven much of the Northeast Corridor and there’s no way you can beat the train for speed. The station stops – Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington. DC, and now New Haven all have connecting rail options to get you to your destination. I use them all the time. Most Americans don’t want to go to the trouble to figure out a city’s subway or light rail system, let alone its bus routes, but you don’t need a car unless you have a lot of travel to do in your destination city.

              I may have to have this conversation with you at the bar at some point.

              Liked by 1 person

            4. I completely understand this because even here not all office districts or city landmarks are close to suburban railway stations. If we ever met and sat in the bar I think 24 hours will be a very short time for conversation. (considering that I’m such a chatterbox.) ;)

              Liked by 1 person

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