With Metro-North rail service on the New Haven line operating at about one-third its normal capacity, commuters are being forced to use alternative means of transportation — highways.
And the flood of vehicles to the state's roadways means even greater congestion on what is already one of the country's most heavily traveled regions. Reports are coming in this morning of lengthy delays on Interstate 95 through lower Fairfield County, from about Bridgeport to Stamford, and on the Merritt Parkway, beginning in Trumbull down to Stamford.
More commuters taking to cars Thursday was mostly out of necessity and also a request that Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy made Wednesday afternoon.
What Happened to Metro-North?
According to an announcement from the railroad, on Wednesday morning, the New Haven line experienced a loss of Con Edison feeders that supply traction power to the electric fleet.
That led to the temporary shut down of service from Stamford to Grand Central Terminal. It could take weeks for the line to be operating at full capacity, authorities said Wednesday.
"We don't really know how long it will take," Malloy said.
"Folks, plan on long-term lack of service or being under-served," he added.
Metro-North says the service plan in place — limited bus/train service for the New Haven Line until further notice — can accommodate approximately 33% of the regular ridership on the New Haven line. Last year, 38.8 million people took a ride on the New Haven line — about 40,000 per day, according to The New York Times.
1-Hour Commute Turns Into 3
The service disruption directly impacted the line between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal, but the effects are being felt up and down the line — in crowded trains and buses, longer waits, and more congested roadways.
Take Ron Nihill, of Naugatuck, as an example. A retired Connecticut State Trooper Sergeant who now works for the People’s Court reality TV show in Stamford, Nihill commutes to that city three days a week.
On Wednesday, it took him three hours and 10 minutes to drive from Stamford to Naugatuck — a trip that normally takes 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
“Anybody who knows Fairfield County knows that you cannot travel from Bridgeport to Stamford on I-95 after 6 a.m.,” he said. “You can, but it’s much heavier traffic, so you have to try to get out a little earlier. Yesterday, I did, but it still took me that long.”
On Thursday, he decided to give the train a shot. He drove to Bridgeport and took a train directly to Stamford, where the platform was packed with commuters standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
“It definitely shows how much people rely on the rail system in Connecticut,” he said.
— Patch Editor Paul Singley contributed to this report.