Fly Us To Florida

Thomas MacMIllan PhotoIn two years, New Haveners will fly to Florida, Washington, and Chicago and ride “more and better” buses around town.

And the city will be able to demonstrate those advancements with hard numbers.

Mayor Toni Harp laid those goals out in her first “State of The City” address, delivered to the Board of Alders and dozens of audience members Monday night in City Hall.

The speech offered Harp her first public opportunity to present her full mayoral agenda, just one month into her tenure.

The state of the city, Harp said, is “poised”—poised for continued policing success, poised for better fire service, poised to “knit” the city together with new developments, poised to attract new entrepreneurs, and poised to be “the great small city between Manhattan and Boston.”

Click here to read the speech.

Among the list of goals laid out in the speech, Harp took a firm stand on two transportation issues—bus service within New Haven, and air service to and from it. She also promised a turn toward data-driven governance.

Bus service is not just about transportation; it’s a matter of civil rights, she said.

“I will make it clear that without more and better buses of all types running more appropriate routes we cannot fulfill our promise of jobs and opportunity,” Harp said. “Adequate transportation is an economic and civil rights issue—I will not let busses and those who ride them be left behind.”

That line drew a round of applause from the chamber.

Improved bus service is also at the top of the list for Harp’s new transportation chief, former Downtown Alder Doug Hausladen. He has called for extensions of service and the installation of GPS devices on all buses—two ideas that the governor subsequently promised to look into.

In order to be a the great small city between New York and Boston, she said, Tweed Airport needs to offer flights to more locations, she said. Right now, air passengers can only fly to Philadelphia.

“We must improve the ability people have to get here and go elsewhere,” she said. “I will do whatever it takes to work with the neighbors around Tweed Airport to make it possible for us to support them and have planes fly to Florida and Washington and Chicago – not next century but in two years.”

In her address, Mayor Harp also embraced quantitative analysis as a governance method. She promised to implement the management tool “Results-Based Accountability” in all city departments.

“Within just a few months each department head will have conducted an inventory and prepared answers to the following questions: ‘how much did we do?’, ‘how well did we do it?’, and, ‘is anyone better off?’ The answers will be quantifiable, to address my strong support for this system. My mantra for city government is this: if we can’t measure it, we can’t manage it.”

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posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 3, 2014  10:07pm

Anyone have the text of Mayor Harp’s speech? Video?

I’d like to know if there was any mention of the two-way streets conversion? (Certainly Downtown Doug didn’t put his political career on hold just for better bus information systems.)

Finally was there any word on how high property taxes will go this year? Is middle-class New Haven in for just another 5% increase, or should we be poised for something worse?

[Ed.: I added a link to the text. It’s here.]

posted by: TheMadcap on February 3, 2014  10:56pm

“The city, I might add, is poised for new leadership at TTP. As of today, we’re all looking forward to the tenure of now-former Alder Doug Hausladen. The Board of Alders’ loss is New Haven’s gain. And with that the entire city can look forward to a cityscape that will allow and encourage shared use of all of its transportation assets. We are poised to bring real bike lanes – safe and separate – to as many major streets as possible and build safe street crossings and intersections to protect pedestrians as well.”

I did support the other person during the election, but this makes me happy, and her appointing of Hausladen and commitment to bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure makes me happy, and probably many in the city who voted for Elicker as this was an important issue to many of us. Thank you mayor Harp.

posted by: citoyen on February 3, 2014  11:12pm

No word about budget or taxes, and no word about enforcing traffic laws (and no, Anderson, no word about two-way streets).

BUT—a promising initial address, nicely focused on the theme of “poised.”

Let’s give her a chance.  If this had been Justin Elicker speaking, I would be saying, yes, this is the sort of forward-looking promise we elected him to work for.

Whether the ideas mentioned are just pipe dreams remains to be seen, regardless of who is in office.

posted by: DingDong on February 4, 2014  12:34pm

This seems like a mayor I might have voted for (I didn’t). 

I just hope she can keep employee costs down as well. One way to do that is of course to achieve efficiencies through regionalization. 

But a promising speech nonetheless.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 4, 2014  12:54pm

Who are these people voting against GPS on city buses!? Could someone who voted no please explain why?

Are you against the tracking aspect? Think its an unnecessary expense? Hate good ideas? Are a generally cynical person unhappy with your life so you take it out on others? Internet trolling?

What is it!?

posted by: Anderson Scooper on February 4, 2014  1:10pm


The 29 no votes are likely the people at CT Transit who’d have to make the changes, and also a handful of drivers who don’t want to be tracked in real-time.

Anyway, this is a no-brainer, and one that has to happen.

What I’d like to know is if we’re ever going to get a transfer station, where people could wait inside and out of the cold when they need to change buses. Why not something on State Street near the downtown train station?

posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on February 4, 2014  2:50pm

Driving into New Haven on Whitney Av yesterday, with the new snow clinging to the trees, giving them a definition that seemed to bring out a physical beauty to Hamden and New Haven, that anyone would admire, and see the area as so picturesque, as to want to call it home. But why does this not happen on the other 364 days of the year, or over the past 30 years. It’s the violence, that New Haven, when one gets down to the nuts and bolts of deciding where one would want to raise their children,  where someone would love to pursue a career and life. Or a business would want to come here, without pause. It’s the violence, and death, that so many want to act is contained in the “bad neighborhoods” as if there are walls around them that make everyone else safe from the tragedy from coming into their lives.

This seems to be the perspective many city leaders, and Yale managers want to take, but their failure to apply all their knowledge and resources to stopping the gun violence in New Haven, has been, and still is the greatest impediment to New Haven reaching the stellar potential everyone that calls this home, deserves. 1000 Murders in 30 years.

posted by: robn on February 4, 2014  2:56pm

Not sure why this isn’t evident to the city already but the inherent flaw in New Haven’s bus system is that its purely radial. All great transit systems are a grid of crisscrossing straight lines and/or loops. Outside of the downtown area, one has to go all the way to the suburbs before the lines cross. Extremely inefficient and backwards planning.

posted by: TheMadcap on February 4, 2014  3:56pm

“But why does this not happen on the other 364 days of the year, or over the past 30 years”

New Haven had one of the largest population increases in terms of percentage in the north-east in the last census, so arguably it’s already happening.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 4, 2014  5:07pm

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on February 4, 2014 11:54am

Who are these people voting against GPS on city buses!? Could someone who voted no please explain why?

Are you against the tracking aspect? Think its an unnecessary expense? Hate good ideas? Are a generally cynical person unhappy with your life so you take it out on others? Internet trolling?

What is it!?

To hell with GPS.You need a 24hr Transit System.It would promote economic growth.A 24hr Transit System would help workers in healthcare,public safety,hospitality, and other industries who don’t work weekday hours.

posted by: robn on February 4, 2014  6:06pm


Yeah, 24 hour service would be great and so would jet-packs for everybody; but neither is a realistic goal.
GPS tracking is cheap, achievable, and would allow people with multiple responsibilities job/family/job to use their time more efficiently. Plus its freaking cold here…who wants to wait out at a bus stop in the middle of the winter?

posted by: TheMadcap on February 4, 2014  7:01pm

Yeah 24/7 transit isn’t going to happen, even most mega cities shut down their system for a few hours in the early morning.(NYC is an exception to this). Going to 1am though may be a realistic possibility, particularly on weekends, so people can head downtown and not have to drive.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on February 4, 2014  8:08pm

@Robn and TheMadcap.It is a proven fact that 24hr Transit Systems.Promote economic growth.Chicago Transit Authority covers the Windy City as well as 40 suburbs and operates 24 hours a day, moving 1.6 Million people daily. With over 144 stations for the elevated train, not much of the city is out of range for the famed “el.” There are even commuter rail spurs that go as far away as South Bend, Indiana.The the New York system or if you like, 4.5 Million people a day. They’re so effective as a matter of fact, that New York is the only city in the U.S. where more than half of the households don’t own a car. Up to 75% of the population of Manhattan is without four-wheeled transport.The reason why you do not have 24hr transit is the taxi companies do not want this,They would lose money.

posted by: Cove'd on February 4, 2014  11:16pm

ditto to what robn said.  the bus routing should be revisited and the system could probably benefit from more of a grid structure.

posted by: Christopher Schaefer on February 5, 2014  9:35pm

New Haven’s fund balance is $4.7 Million in the red—but our mayor is “poised”—with empty promises But wait! Demanding more PILOT money from the state is what will save us! Except—the state is also broke: But who cares about reality? The important thing is to convince low-information voters to keep these same con-artists in office forever.