HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Temporary transformers have been installed to allow electric trains to operate from New Haven to New York City on the sixth straight day of commuter rail delays.
With the New Haven line now operating at 50 percent capacity, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the commute to and from Manhattan could become a bit easier with the addition of another transformer, potentially in time for Tuesday’s commute.
“They’re working on it as we speak so I would hope that it’s possible that it could be up and running by tomorrow morning,” Malloy said Monday. “If it was to come on, then they could send an additional train because we know there are a lot of people standing and at least in a couple of cases, trains couldn’t let more people on at a particular station.”
MTA spokesman Mike Clendenin told WCBS 880 on Monday evening that it appeared work being done during a system upgrade, in which one of the two feeders was taken off line, led to the power failure.
“That had to do with a very complex process we do with transmission feeders when we’re working on them called ‘freezing’ or ‘freeze pit,'” he said.
“The freezing process for the feeder that we were working on for Metro-North ended up freezing, it seems, the ground outside the work site. That seems to have impacted the other feeder and led to the fault.”
Meanwhile, the MTA announced it will hold a special board meeting Tuesday afternoon to consider approving a credit for customers impacted by the outage.
Monday’s morning and evening commutes were still slow-going for many commuters.
“You can’t carry all the people with half the trains on the line,” said Metro-North President Howard Permut.
Regional park-and-ride areas were established for access to Harlem line trains. Added rail cars helped handle the increase in the number of commuters.
In all, there are 8,600 free parking spots available at Orchard Beach, Rye Playland, Kensico Dam and by the Yankee Stadium stop.
From there, free shuttle buses will take commuters to a different line on Metro-North, or to the subway in the case of Yankee Stadium.
As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported from Rye Playland, just a few dozen commuters took advantage of the 45 shuttle buses lined up Monday morning.
“I heard that it was going to be very crowded on the New Haven line, and I’m very surprised that there are so many spots here,” one woman said.
“Today’s packed, I just came back from [Harrison]. … There’s no parking,” said another commuter.
Stations on the Harlem and Hudson Metro-North lines will both cross-honor New Haven line tickets.
Malloy said that combined with additional park-and-ride areas, the efforts will boost capacity to about 65 percent of normal rush-hour rail traffic.
Malloy announced Monday that full service could be restored by Oct. 7, which is a day earlier than originally estimated by the MTA.
“We’re getting back to some level of normalcy,” said the governor, who thanked commuters for their patience.
Commuters, however, were growing even more frustrated Monday, and some were skeptical of the time lines being given.
“It’s a hassle, a big hassle,” one man told CBS 2’s John Slattery.
“It’s ridiculous that they can’t get their act together,” a woman added.
“A lot of the people here don’t have trust in them,” said commuter Steve Hensler. “I don’t think they’ll be done by the time they say.”
Also skeptical are U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who announced Sunday they have sent a letter to officials at the Department of Energy and New York’s Public Service Commission asking them to help restore power and figure out what caused the outage.
“Heads need to roll,” Blumenthal said.
“I sort of smell cover-up because they said a line was cut, then they said a line wasn’t cut,” Schumer said. “We need to know what happened here fully.”
MTA chief Thomas Prendergast insisted: “No way have we done anything to hold back information.”
Rail service was disrupted Wednesday when a circuit failed at a substation in Mount Vernon.
Malloy has criticized the railroad for having only one line feeding power to the system. He said he has directed Connecticut’s Department of Transportation commissioner to ask the MTA and Metro-North to study the reliability of one-line feeds and the implications in the wake of last week’s disruption.
“I don’t want to see that happen anywhere else on the line and certainly don’t want to see it happen in Connecticut,” he said. “I think they’re going to have to develop a new protocol so that we don’t have one-line feeds ever again on the system.”
Con Ed said the feeder that was removed from service several weeks ago will be the first source restored, allowing normal train service to resume on Oct. 7.
The utility also announced they’re in extensive discussions with the MTA to come up with contingency plans for future incidents.
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