It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath.
A commuter train derailed as it was heading into Manhattan this morning, killing four people and injuring more than 60. Witnesses say the train appeared to be going too fast as it rounded a curve just north of a train station in the Bronx. The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to piece together what happened.
It's been a rough and frustrating year for Metro-North commuters. Aside from the derailment in Bridgeport and the power outage in September, the service has been slower and less reliable than usual. On a recent episode of Where We Live, we heard many suggestions from our guests and listeners on how to make Metro-North better.
It’s been a rough year for Connecticut’s commuter rail line. From the derailment in Bridgeport to the extended power outage, Metro-North commuters have had headache after headache. So what can we do to improve the rail system and get people to and from New York City safely and on time?
On Monday, a congressional field hearing was held in Bridgeport to discuss ways to improve Metro-North railroad service after a power failure impacted thousands of commuters last month. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal organized the hearing. He said inadequate management and insufficient funding in infrastructure led to the the breakdown in service September 25.
Senator Richard Blumenthal is chairing a hearing in Bridgeport on the recent Metro-North power outage. The hearing is examining the causes of the outage, how to prevent such failures from reoccurring, and the economic impact of such a major service disruption. It's hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority says Metro-North's New Haven line is back to full service today. The nation's second largest commuter rail line has been crippled since September 25, when a high voltage power feeder cable failed.
As we mourn the passing of legendary Connecticut photojournalist Bill Eppridge today -- he was 75 -- we're also thinking at The Wheelhouse Digest about the bizarre incident in Washington, D.C. on Thursday that ended fatally, when a Stamford woman tried to drive through a barrier toward the White House. More on that and our dashed hopes about commuting by helicopter below.
The federal government shutdown does not (directly) affect our weekly news roundtable The Wheelhouse. But it sure does give us something to talk about tomorrow. We'll be joined by Wheelhouse regulars to talk about this shutdown -- or, as Rep. David Schweikert called it on NPR's Morning Edition, a "government slowdown."
On today's episode of The Wheelhouse we're covering the hot political topics of the day, crunched together here in a quick-to-skim format, including how Access Health CT did on its unveiling: despite technical glitches, more enrollments came through than expected. This is The Wheelhouse Digest.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted unanimously Tuesday to credit Metro-North New Haven Line customers who have been inconvenienced by the ongoing disruption in service. Riders must have monthly or weekly tickets between Connecticut and New York City that were valid during the power outage.
You may have noticed that the federal government shut down today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called this a "sad day for America." But it's not keeping Connecticut down. Today, the state's new health care exchange takes its first spin around the Internet (if on slightly unstable web-wheels), and -- you know you've been waiting for this -- a bunch of new laws go into effect. Maybe you forgot just how good October 1 would be to you. That and more in today's Wheelhouse Digest.
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.
With Metro-North service still only running at 50 percent of normal capacity, Connecticut commuters are entering a second week of delays and challenges getting to work. Being a regular Metro-North commuter frequently calls for ingenuity. Last week's electrical failure left many searching once again for a Plan B.
As the investigation into last Friday’s train crash continues, victims are starting to come forward. The first lawsuit against the Metro-North Railroad Company was filed in federal court today.
65-year-old Elizabeth Sorensen of Mystic was on the Eastbound train going from New York City to New Haven last Friday when it derailed and was struck by a train going in the other direction. She was thrown violently around the rail car and suffered severe multiple fractures and brain trauma.
Metro-North railroad has announced it will restore full service to the New Haven line on Wednesday. While many commuters heeded pleas to avoid rush hour travel on Monday, some didn’t have a choice or decided to brave it anyway -- including me.
For many commuters, Friday evening's ride on Metro-North was uneventful at first.
“The train was moving along, I guess there was no reason to suspect anything," said Frank Bilotti to the New Haven Register. "Everybody was just daydreaming and passing the time away and all of a sudden, there was a sudden crash. So there’s no warning, no sirens, no whistles or anything.”
I don’t normally think of commuting as an adventure. But it did seem a little like one yesterday morning as people got word that they could finally take the train from Stamford into Manhattan once again. Trumbull resident Brian Keane usually commutes from Westport into the city. Today, he drove to Stamford’s train station – and was ready for a little adventure when it came to parking.
“I actually have a bike in my car, because I figured if there wasn’t any parking, I’d park up on Bedford Street and bike down," he told me.
There’s talk of Hartford to New York in half an hour. New York to Boston in 90 minutes. Tunnels under the Long Island Sound zipping trains across the region. It’s exciting stuff. But here in Connecticut, many are saying, ‘wait a minute. First thing’s first.’
“We don’t have money today to run the railroad that we operate – or try to operate – today," says Jim Cameron.
Irene hit Connecticut as a strong tropical storm Sunday with torrential rains and gusty winds that destroyed coastal homes, toppled trees and left a record 800,000 customers without power, surpassing damage from Hurricane Gloria in 1985. More than eight inches of rain fell.
The storm reached New England weaker than expected as it failed to re-intensify after making initial landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane, but it still destroyed or damaged dozens of beachfront homes in East Haven and nearby communities and undermined sections of seawall, walkways and streets.
Connecticut transportation is in crisis on the ground and in the skies.
The Northeast corridor has the nation’s busiest airspace and Metro-North’s New Haven Line the most commuter traffic in the U.S. But thanks to relentless winter weather and continued delay of the MTA’s new M8 train cars, more than half of Metro North’s New Haven line trains are out of service. The result is a decrease in service and plenty of livid commuters.