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Malloy Wants Plan To Compensate Metro-North Commuters

Conn. Governor Calls Service Disruption A 'Horrendous Situation'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he’s expecting a plan from the Metropolitan Transit Authority and Metro-North Railroad to reimburse Connecticut commuters for the lack of service caused by a failed high-voltage feeder cable.

Malloy said Friday he told the transit authority and the railroad “in no uncertain terms” that he expects a compensation plan quickly.

The governor told reporters that he’s “more than willing to put the full power of the state of Connecticut behind that demand.” But he later said he’s not anticipating a court case.

Many Connecticut commuters buy monthly tickets.

Meanwhile, Con Edison was setting up three transformers to try to supply the needed 27,000 volts of power to a high-voltage line that failed Wednesday at a Mount Vernon station, knocking out power to the New Haven line.

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“We’ll continue to put as much pressure on the system and those responsible to make sure we have a quicker turnaround,” Malloy said.

But it was unclear how many electric trains could be served by the transformers’ power, which would take power from lines in residential areas and step them up to reach the needed 27,000 volts, Malloy and Con Ed said.

Officials said they’d be testing the alternative power source over the weekend to see if it could work.

“We’ve been working on a couple of strategies to get power back to the tracks as quickly as possible,” Con Ed spokesman Michael Clendenin said.

A second high-voltage line serving the trains to New Haven had been out of service for two weeks for planned repairs, officials said, and it was unclear if its absence caused extra strain on the line that failed Wednesday.

The broken circuit could take two to three weeks to repair, Con Ed said.

“I’m the governor of 125,000 pretty unhappy commuters right now,” said a frustrated Malloy, calling the service disruption “a horrendous situation.”

City University of New York professor and former Chicago Transit Authority Executive Director Robert “Buzz” Paaswell said the reason it will probably take so long to repair is because it’s such a dangerous and complicated problem.

“The issue is more working around a live railroad where you have trains every few minutes going by which is very difficult to do,” Paaswell told CBS 2’s Andrea Grymes.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation have called for hearings on the breakdown of service on the New Haven line.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said getting rail service is back online is the top priority. But once that’s achieved, he wants a congressional hearing into the outage and the response.

“A Congressional hearing could require Metro-North and Con Ed officials to give an explanation, to provide facts,” Blumenthal told Schneidau. “I think that fact-finding and investigation are important to holding accountable Con Ed and Metro-North that should’ve done better and have to do much better.”

Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) has also called for a congressional hearing into the matter.

Blumenthal said a hearing can be critical in providing stronger oversight in the future.

Commuters are also lashing out at Con Ed and the MTA for the power failure that has left riders scrambling to find other ways of getting to and from New York City.

“I had to take a cab to a train station and then catch a train from there and clearly, the trains are overcrowded,” said commuter Anna Martynova.

“It is chaotic, confusing, tiring,” said passenger Sherna Channer. “I want to get to work.”

“What are my increased fares going toward?” another commuter asked. “You don’t see the results of these increased rates.”

“I need the train. I need the trains. Bring back the trains!” Ereka Vetrini told CBS 2’s Grymes. “I actually don’t understand how this happens — completely frustrating.”

MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan said his agency is doing all it can to support Con Ed.

“We understand this is very difficult for customers. It’s difficult for us, and the two-three week time frame that we’ve been given for restoration of power is not acceptable to us,” Donovan said.

Metro-North has said it could accommodate about 33 percent of its regular ridership and has urged customers to stay at home or find alternative transportation.

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