Commuters will soon see impacts to train service on the Metro North with slightly reduced service and higher fares. State officials said in a statement that “rail service changes are being proposed to reflect post COVID-19 weekday ridership levels and travel patterns.”
“The bipartisan budget adopted earlier this year included a funding reduction for Metro-North Railroad (MNR) and Shore Line East (SLE) passenger rail service, therefore new schedules are proposed for both services to achieve budgetary targets established by the legislature,” the 2023 CTDOT Service and Fare Equity Analysis stated.
The cuts for southwest Connecticut would include:
- A reduction of two trains—from 239 to 237—on Monday through Thursday service on the New Haven Line
- A reduction of eight trains—from 241 to 233—on Friday service on the New Haven Line
- A reduction of two trains—from 28 to 26—on all weekdays on the Danbury Line
- A reduction of two trains—from 41 to 39—on all weekdays on the New Canaan Line
The analysis found that ridership is still down on average 31.9% on the New Haven Line, 45.2% on the New Canaan Line, and 49.6% on the Danbury Line.
Statewide, the average fare increase would be 3.3%. For a rider on the New Haven line, a peak ticket that costs $7.14 (the current average fare) would now cost $7.60, an average 10-trip peak ticket package would go from $63.23 to $67.19, and an average monthly pass would go from $137.44 to $142.98.
These cuts and fare increases send a conflicting message from state officials who have been emphasizing transit-oriented development around train stations in the region, including proposed development around the Merritt 7 station in Norwalk. It also comes at a time when government officials have been touting infrastructure improvements, such as the Walk Bridge project, which connects the Northeast Corridor in Norwalk.
Residents and commuters have the chance to weigh in on these changes at a series of public hearings the first week of October. However, there are no in-person hearings in Fairfield County, which is where many of the Metro North commuters are located.
There is an in-person open house and hearing in New Haven on Monday, October 2 starting at 5 p.m. and another in Hartford on Tuesday, October 3 starting at 5 p.m.
There will be two virtual hearings on Wednesday, October 4—one from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and another from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Learn more about the hearings and sign up at CTDOT’s webpage.