Low ridership could mean major cuts for Metro-North

Trains

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– These days it’s not too difficult to find a seat in the waiting area at Union Station in New Haven or on one of the many Metro-North trains.

“This morning was empty rows but if I”m coming in during the afternoon it’s like empty seats,” said Metro-North passenger Mona Parkinson.

“On the way down from Albany to New York City there was actually only seven people on my train car,” said passenger Auston Tighe.

The emptier trains have their perks. Parkinson who was traveling with her niece and nephew says it’s easier to find open seats.

“And then also easier to social distance because you’re not forced to sit with other people,” said Parkinson.

The MTA says ridership on Metro-North trains is down more than 75 percent and the agency is losing $200 million a week.

“Is extraordinarily more severe in the pandemic than it was in the greatest financial calamity in the 20th century, the 1929 stock market crash and the resulting depression,” said MTA Chairman Pat Foye.

The lot used for additional parking is now completely empty as is the top floor of the parking garage and a few of the floors below it. Folks who work at the train station tell News 8 before the pandemic all of the spots would have been filled by 8 a.m.

During a Zoom meeting Wednesday morning the MTA said without $12 billion in federal aid it will have to make major cuts including reducing Metro North services by half which could mean as much as an hour or two hours in between each train.

Parkinson said that would be very challenging.

“I will have to end up where I need to go extra early because also to try to avoid the crowd which will eventually happen,” said Parkinson. 

The MTA is hoping to get more people on board its #SaveTransit campaign which highlights an urgent need for federal funding. 

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