Bar Cars May Return To Metro-North’s New Haven Line

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Metro-North riders on Monday were toasting the news of the possible return of bar cars to the New Haven line.

Bar cars haven’t been seen on the line since they were taken out of service in May 2014. The bar cars, which had been in operation on the New Haven line since 1973, were phased out as the railroad switched its fleet over to the new M-8 cars.

“Bar cars proved rather impractical toward the end, not only were they in really bad shape and they were being held together with gaffer’s tape, but ridership was increasing to the point that we needed seats more than a bar that was only used in the evening,” commuter advocate Jim Cameron said.

But as CBS2’s Lou Young reported, commuters on the rails between New York City and Connecticut have felt like something was missing.

“I would enjoy a bar car today,” said Metro-North rider Adam Listone. “I’m not going to lie.”

Commuters noted that the tradition of the bar car is as old as the commute itself.

“It’s kind of a part of, you know, part of the history of the trains going to New York City,” said Tom Huges of Darien.

Now, the line is expected to get 60 new rail cars, 10 of which will be bar cars, WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau reported.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office would not confirm or deny the reports, but Connecticut riders were expectant.

“A lot of the fellows like to sit around and play cards, or chat, or just catch up, and it’s tough to do that in the more densely packed trains,” said Craig Stansbury of Stamford.

“I’m back and forth all the time, and you know, to be able to have a cold beer on a Friday afternoon? Outstanding,” said Charles Cabot of Stamford.

Despite the seemingly universal enthusiasm, there is a downside to bar cars — especially at when at the end of the line, there’s a car waiting.

“Guys having a rough time at work, so they’re going to have a few drinks on the way home and then get in their cars and drive back,” said Anthony DelDotto of Bronxville. “That’s a problem.”

Others emphasized the need for additional seats.
“We need those seats desperately,” Cameron said. “In the last five years, there’s been a 27 percent increase in peak hour ridership and that means that a lot of the trains at rush hour are standing room only.”

The New Haven Line was the last to have rolling bartenders. The fact that they could return sparked a little jealousy among riders on other lines.

“I would love to have it back on the Long Island Rail Road where I’m going, but it’s great that it’s coming back here,” said Bobby Shea of Massapequa.

If it is coming back, an announcement about new car equipment on the New Haven Line is expected, in what a source said would be on Tuesday afternoon.

The new cars will be paid for with a $200 million bond issue, Schneidau reported.

Revenues and expenses on the New Haven Line are split between the State of Connecticut and the MTA.

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