Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Con Ed: It Could Take Three Weeks to Repair Metro-North Power Outage
Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 10:27 AM
As crews scrambled to determine the cause of a power failure on the New Haven Line, Thursday morning's commute was crowded -- but not unusually so.
"I haven't heard any reports of anything completely out of the ordinary, considering what we were expecting -- which is a very tough day," said MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan.
According to MTA figures, Metro-North carried about half its normal New Haven Line ridership of 39,000 during Thursday's morning’s rush hour.
Early Wednesday morning, a feeder cable in Mount Vernon failed, cutting power to Metro-North's busiest commuter rail line. The neighboring Harlem Line saw a 25 percent increase in ridership.
Con Ed crews are working around the clock to assess damage and determine the cause of the power failure. According to Allan Drury, a power company spokesman, "repair of the feeder could take up to three weeks."
He said Con Ed engineers were working alongside Metro-North on alternative power plans that could allow the transit agency to run more trains.
"There's a possibility of running power from our distribution system to Metro-North," said Drury, "but a complex engineering analysis has to be done first."
Until power is restored, Metro-North is using a combination of diesel trains and bus service on the line. Donovan said 2,100 people used the agency's stop-gap bus shuttle between Rye and White Plains.
Some commuters at Grand Central seemed sanguine about their Thursday morning commute.
"The only thing that disrupted me was the fact that we were standing like sardines," said Robert Ortner, a 56-year old commuter from Norwalk, Connecticut. "Which, you know, goes with the territory."
He added: "When you look at the mass of this whole thing its not that big a deal, for me but I'm a yoga teacher."
Mike O'Keefe, who boarded a Metro-North train in Bronxville, said it was packed. "It wasn't optimal, put it that way...if you didn't get on before Tuckahoe, you had no chance of getting a seat." He said it was too crowded for conductors to check tickets.
On Thursday morning, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said he was suspending routine road work in lower Fairfield County to ease congestion. On Thursday evening, he met with Con Ed and MTA official at Grand Central Terminal, and then addresses reporters about additional steps officials are trying to take.
"We have offered to take some additional diesel operated trains out of operation in Connecticut and lend them to the larger system," he said.
Governor Malloy also reiterated his call for the MTA to reimburse rail pass holders, but MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said "there is no procedure" for giving refunds.
Connecticut Department of Transportation spokesman Judd Everhard said people were heeding the message to stay home or telecommute. "We had pretty routine traffic on Interstate 95 in lower Fairfield County and on the Merritt Parkway," he said, "both of which are heavily congested any week day -- and they were about normal [Thursday]."
The MTA's service plan can be found here, or read below.
Limited Bus/Train Service in Effect on the New Haven Line
Limited Bus/Train Service is being provided for the New Haven Line until further notice due to the loss of a Con Edison feeder that supplies traction power to the line's electric fleet.
The service plan can accommodate approximately 33% of the regular ridership on the New Haven Line.
As a result:
-Customers are strongly encouraged to stay home or should seek alternate service
-New Haven Line tickets continue to be cross honored on the Harlem Line
-Customers should expect crowded conditions and should listen for announcements at their station
Bus Service will be provided on the Waterbury branch and limited shuttle train service will operate on the Danbury and New Canaan Branches.
AM Peak Service
To Grand Central:
From New Haven to Stamford train service will be provided every 20-30 minutes and will connect with:
-Limited diesel train service from Stamford operating directly to Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
-Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Stamford through Rye Stations; connecting with express bus service to White Plains Station for Harlem Line train service to Grand Central
From Harrison to Grand Central Terminal service will be provided as follows:
-Limited local train service every 20-30 minutes from Harrison through New Rochelle Stations and operating directly to Fordham, Harlem-125th Street and Grand Central Terminal
-Bus Service from Pelham and Mount Vernon East to Mount Vernon West for Harlem Line train service
From Grand Central:
-Limited diesel train service will be provided every 30-40 minutes from GCT and making all local stops to Stamford; with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.
To Grand Central:
-Hourly shuttle service between New Haven (departing every 45 minutes after the hour) and Stamford with local train service operating every half hour between Stamford and Grand Central Terminal.
From Grand Central:
-Train service operating every half hour (:04 and :34 after the hour) out of Grand Central making all local stops to Stamford with hourly connections at Stamford for train service to New Haven.
PM Peak Service
From Grand Central to Stamford/New Haven:
-Limited service from Grand Central direct to Stamford with connections to New Haven provided every 20-30 minutes.
-Harlem Line Service to White Plains Station with express bus service to Rye Station for local train service between Rye and Stamford operating every 20-30 minutes
From Grand Central to Harrison:
-Limited train service operating every 30 minutes from Grand Central to New Rochelle, Larchmont, Mamaroneck and Harrison Stations
-Harlem Line train service to Mount Vernon West for Bus Service to Pelham and Mount Vernon East Stations
Please visit our schedules page for complete schedule information.
Metro-North is working with Con Edison to try to establish alternative power sources to serve the New Haven Line. Con Ed crews are working around the clock to make repairs to a feeder cable that failed earlier today. Another feeder normally providing service to the New Haven Line was out on scheduled repairs to accommodate upgrades required by Metro-North.
- See more at: http://mta.info/supplemental/mnr/mnr_weather_info.html#sthash.ZZLyvehz.dpuf