Commuters warily return to trains
Updated 12:55 pm, Monday, September 30, 2013
Train commuters were returning to the New Canaan station in dribs and drabs Monday morning.
Metro-North's New Haven Line -- crippled since last week when a 38,000-volt feeder line went dead -- added more trains to its limited service Monday. A temporary substation in Harrison, N.Y., is supplying electrical service to an 8-mile stretch. Metro-North is using a combination of diesel and some electrical engines to provide about 50 percent of normal capacity, a slight increase from last week's 33 percent.
"This is my first time back," Kevin McAulilffe, who works in television in New York said Monday morning. McAuliffe showed up at the platform around 7:35 a.m. and was unsure when the next train would show up. "I read the website, but the schedule wasn't really clear."
McAuliffe said he worked from home Wednesday, the day the Consolidated Edison electrical feeder broke, and drove in to Manhattan on Thursday and Friday. The drive Thursday morning took him two and a half hours, but Friday's commute was only about an hour and 20 minutes, he said. Still, he wanted to get back on the train, where he could read and send emails and work on his laptop.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority has informed riders not to expect major improvements in service before Oct. 8.
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"I'm going to go buy my monthly now for $300," an exasperated Jason Usher said. Usher and McAuliffe work together and carpooled on Friday. He said his employer has been understanding about the train situation, but that workers who live in New York are beating him to work easily.
"Yeah, they're already in the city and are still in at 8:45 (a.m.) and you're not," he said.
On the roads, the first bottlenecks started to develop around 6:30 a.m, earlier than normal. On the Merritt Parkway, the stretch between the Route 25 intersection and Exit 44 in Fairfield had speeds reduced into the teens. After 8 a.m., I-95 traffic speeds were reduced into the teens with more than 19 miles of congestion between Stratford and Darien. More than an hour later, highways were still jammed.
The situation was making it difficult for the taxi drivers who wait at the New Canaan station last week, but as of Monday, their situations had reversed.
"There is no one coming. I am here since 6 o'clock this morning. How much I make?"
cab driver Steven Garcia said last Thursday, holding up his hand with his fingers in the shape of a circle. "Zero. Normally, I make 70, 80 dollars."
But Monday morning he said he had several trips from New Canaan to Manhattan, which cost between $160 and $175.
"Last week after I spoke to you I started going crazy," Garcia said. "Local, nothing, but long distance, it's good. (We have) three drivers and made $3,000 last week."
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