Commuter Council Halts CDOT Plan To
Leave Commuters In The Cold
( November 30, 2007 ): The Connecticut Department of Transportation has cancelled its plan to switch morning rush hour rail operations, sending commuters to the opposite, New Haven-bound platform to catch their New York bound trains.
Announced on Wednesday of this week, the plan was to have taken effect on Monday December 3rd and run for four months to allow caternary replacement work.
“CDOT never told us of this crazy plan,” said Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron. “And it’s obvious no consideration was given to how much this plan would have inconvenienced our 110,000 daily riders.”
Had the plan gone through, NY-bound passengers would have been waiting on unsheltered platforms exposed to Winter weather without access to heated waiting rooms. Station vendors of coffee and newspaper, located on the NY-bound platform, would have lost considerable business and income. And because there are no ticket machines on the New Haven-bound platform, late arriving passengers without tickets would have been hit with a $5 fine for buying tickets on the train.
“When the Commuter Council learned of this plan we immediately protested to CDOT,” said Cameron. “We were told this plan, while inconvenient, was necessary and there was no recourse.”
During a day of intense lobbying, the Commuter Council enlisted support of local and state elected officials who helped bring the issue to the attention of Governor Rell. Within hours CDOT announced they had found another alternative.
Morning rush hour trains will continue to operate on their usual NY-bound track, but all stations from Milford to Stamford will be outfitted with bridge-plates to allow passengers to board trains. CDOT said it expected to start installing the bridge-plates this weekend.
“These bridge plates may mean additional minute of ‘dwell time’ at each station,” said Cameron. “Overall, that may mean trains are a few minutes late arriving in Stamford on their run, but my experience is they easily make up that time during the rest of their trip to Grand Central. Given the alternative of a couple minutes delay vs. four months of standing on exposed platforms in Winter weather, I’m certain commuters would opt for the bridge-plates.”
CDOT officials say they will experiment with the bridge-plate alternative for a week and stay with this alternative if delays are not extensive.
“I’m glad that wiser minds have prevailed at CDOT,” said Cameron. “And I’m grateful to all of the commuters, First Selectmen, State Rep’s and Senators that spoke up on behalf of their commuter constituents. Once again, it took Governor Rell to force CDOT to rethink its plan and not leave commuters out in the cold. Clearly, the ends (necessary caternary work) do not always justify the means (shivering commuters on exposed platforms).”
The Commuter Council will receive an update on the project at its next meeting, Wednesday December 19th at 7 pm in the offices of SWRPA, 888 Washington Street in Stamford CT.
Created by the Connecticut legislature as a watchdog group, the Commuter Council’s members are all commuters on Metro-North and Shore Line East in Connecticut. They serve by legislative and gubernatorial appointment, without compensation, and meet monthly with Metro-North, CDOT and Amtrak.
For more information on the Council and its work, visit www.trainweb.org/ct