Delays Continue for Metro-North Commuters

Sep 30, 2013

Credit Connor Harris / Creative Commons

After a power failure crippled the New Haven line of the Metro-North Railroad last Wednesday, service is slowly improving. Governor Dannel Malloy said it won't be until next week that the power situation is fixed. He also said the railroad has been able to get about 50 percent of its trains running.

"As of 7:30 this morning," Malloy said, "compared to a normal carriage of 17,900 individuals, the New Haven line had actually handled 13,400 -- many of those having to stand while they were on the train."

Malloy said commuters were also taking other lines of the railroad, as well as public buses, to travel. Also, the governor said Metro-North officials are considering his call to reimburse commuters who've bought weekly and monthly passes that they weren't able to use.

"It's a possibility it will be a cash credit," he said. "I suspect what it will ultimately be is a credit toward future purchase -- even though, by the way, they have some level of service. We know a lot of people have been affected adversely, and a lot of people chose to stay home, thankfully, the first couple of days of this event. I want compensation for them."

Malloy said he has directed the state to conduct a study last week's failure, and to make recommendations going forward. Federal elected officials have already called for an investigation.

Our earlier story at 8:30 am:

Commuters who plan on traveling into New York today, and during this week, ought to be prepared for significant delays. Temporary transformers were set up this weekend along the crippled Metro-North New Haven line, so electric trains will be able to operate from New Haven to Grand Central at about half their peak capacity, but it’ll be a slow go.

In a statement Sunday, Governor Dannel Malloy said he’s made it clear to Con Edison and the Metropolitan Transit Authority that a delay like the one that was initially proposed was completely unacceptable. The projected date for a return to normal service is around October 8.

Once again this week, the governor is urging residents to consider working from home or shifting travel times to off-peak hours if possible. Those who will be driving into New York should consider carpooling.

The Waterbury branch will operate today with substitute bus service. Regional park and rides are being set up for access to Harlem line trains, which will add cars to handle the crowds. New Haven line tickets will be honored on the Harlem line. Amtrak said it will offer limited Acela express service between New York and Boston today, but warned there could be delays on Northeast Regional service.

"The threat of a shutdown inhibits and undercuts jobs, economic growth, business investment," Blumenthal said, "because it undermines uncertainty. It undermines the certainty that businesses need to go forward."

In related news, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal and New York Senator Chuck Schumer called for an investigation into the power failure along the New Haven line. A Con Edison feeder line that provides power to the railroad failed last Wednesday, shutting down service between Stamford and Grand Central Station. A backup feeder line was also down, and about 125,000 daily commuters have been affected. Blumenthal said Con Edison should have to explain why appropriate contingency plans and back-up systems were not in place. 

In a letter to the U.S Department of Energy and the New York State Public Service Commission, Blumenthal and Schumer requested information on which agencies audit power supplies, and asked whether there should be a federal standard for contingency plans when there are system failures.