(WTNH) — At the height of the pandemic, Metro North ridership was down 95 percent and the company was bleeding millions of dollars weekly.
MTA Metro North officials say the crisis has been averted – for now. Ridership on Metro North has not rebounded much since last spring.
Yet, essential workers from train conductors to mechanics continue to work on the front lines. They say they are thankful they will now keep their jobs.
Carol Kirner has been a Metro North Conductor for fourteen years. She and thousands of union workers are keeping their jobs.
“Feed our families again and keeping the economy going by keeping us employed,” she says.
Thanks to a $4 billion shot in the arm from the Federal COVID Relief Package.
Metro North officials tell News 8 they need $8 billion more to keep going through 2024. Including, a big capital project which allows riders on the New Haven line the ability to take a train directly to Penn Station.
MTA executives will be in Washington lobbying Congress.
Catherine Rinaldi, the President of MTA Metro North Railroad, said, “It would have cost MTA 9,000 jobs across the system and more than 350,000 jobs in the region and nearly $1 billion in economic activity this year.”
Senator Richard Blumenthal says, “Metro North is alive and well.”
But on fumes less trains are running and MTA is $12 billion in debt.
Senator Richard Blumenthal says President elect Joe Biden has promised more transportation infrastructure.
“He has made a committment and I believe President Biden will stick to it,” added Sen. Blumenthal.
But will work patterns return? Ridership remains down at 81-percent as people continue to work from home.
“I’m very optimistic, to be honest. After a year of working in bedrooms on Zoom they’re going to want to get back together,” said Rinaldi. “Roads can’t accommodate all the people working in basements.”
For now these essential workers are getting their COVID-19 vaccine shots and keeping trains on track.
“It’s critical that we do look in the future. It’s not a today thing and a next day thing. It’s a years-long thing,” added Conductor, Carol Kirner.