NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Cuts could be coming to the Metro-North Railroad.
The current state budget proposal has changes to both the New Haven Line to New York and Shore Line East to New London.
Leaders point to numbers as the reason.
“The governor feels like ridership is down,” House Speaker Matt Ritter (D-District 1) said.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposes more than $40 million in cuts. Metro-North Railroad’s busiest service would drop from 309 daily trains to 260, while Shore Line East would operate at 44% of its pre-COVID service level. What trains those cuts will impact have not been announced, although it will be a combination of both peak and off-peak times.
“We will see how it goes over the summer and fall, but the governor is taking DOT’s advice and their numbers,” Ritter said. “People just work home a lot more, and that’s decreasing both traffic on roads and also who is on trains.”
Jim Gildea, the chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, said frequent service builds ridership. Therefore, he said the state should be talking about more funding, not cutting potentially $40 million and dozens of trains.
“This is the first step in really destroying the line, and really taking the line to nonexistent, which is really concerning,” Gildea said.
Gildea, who is also a Waterbury branch commuter, said the proposed cuts will cause ridership numbers to plummet.
“I’m worried about the devastating impact this will have on my commute,” he said. “Every rail line got additional service before ridership started to come back, and that’s exactly how ridership came back.”
But Gildea said it goes beyond the rails and that the long-term impacts are off track with the state’s economic and environmental goals.
“Not taking cars off the road, not moving people their businesses, not moving people to their trip destinations, the coffee shops along the line, the restaurants along the line,” he said. “Suddenly not only do you devastate a rail line, but you devastate the communities they run through.”
The state has a week to finalize the budget. Commuters would see train service impacts starting in July.