(WTNH) — Metro-North weekday ridership is still down 78% because of the pandemic. Remote workers haven’t shifted back to the office. But a federal government COVID relief package and the prospect of a massive Infrastructure program from Washington are bright spots.
News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina sat down with the president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority this week.
Catherine Rinaldi, the President of MTA says Opening Day at Yankee Stadium gave Metro Transportation Authority a needed bump in ridership: “A lot of people are excited about Opening Day even though it feels like December rather than April.”
Rinaldi says intermediate riders like those going from West Haven to Stamford are steady. Weekends are the busiest.
Rinaldi says, “People just want to get out and about. We will be here to welcome them when they decide to come back.”
The train line faced the loss of thousands of jobs and $100-billion in revenues. But a federal COVID relief package put the MTA back on track.
Now, the prospect of a $2-trillion Jobs and Infrastructure Plan from the Biden Administration gives her cautious optimism.
In Pittsburgh on Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced his plan: “It’s a once-in-a-generation investment.”
President Biden wants to rebuild roads, rails, and bridges. To pay for it, he would raise the corporate tax rate and impose new penalties on corporations that move jobs overseas.
News 8’s Chief Political Correspondent Jodi Latina asked Rinaldi, “What will customers see if you get some of the money, if Congress passes it and appropriates it?”
Rinaldi emphasized speed on the rails.
“A big priority for Governor Lamont is faster trains and having a quicker experience into New York. That level of investment will help us transform the customer experience.”
Governor Ned Lamont is pushing a $9.2-billion investment in transportation.
His budget proposal includes adding seven more trains and a two-way rail service on the Waterbury branch of Metro-North.
To pay for it – a truck mileage tax and a Transportation Climate Initiative which could increase gas taxes by nine cents.
But it’s the Infrastructure of the Northeast Rail Corridor which could be pivotal if Biden’s bill passes.
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal is excited about the prospects: “This program will turbocharge Connecticut transportation.”
Congress is expected to battle over this infrastructure package which includes $970-million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Leaders don’t want that money stranded on the tracks.