MTA Also Unveils Capital Improvement Proposals

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Beginning in November, Metro-North Railroad‘s New Haven line commuters will be able to start using their trains much like subways — a schedule won’t be critical.

Passengers will be able to board a train every half-hour, WCBS 880’s Fran Schneidau reported.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said the changes will especially make a big difference to those using off-peak and weekend trains.

“This is momentous,” Malloy told Schneidau. “It’s something that the customers have wanted, (that) we’ve wanted to see. We reached an agreement with Metro-North, their operator, to provide this service.”

The expanded service will begin Nov. 9.

Malloy said the additional trains will provide a greater incentive to commuters to leave their cars at home.

The governor also said the Waterbury branch line will be receive added late-night, weekend service.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced it is proposing to extend the New Haven line to Penn Station in Manhattan to ease crowding and provide access to Manhattan’s West Side as part of a broad $32 billion, four-year capital improvement program.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports, the plan would help expand the system, extending the 2nd Avenue subway from 95th Street to 125th Street. It would also put more money toward east side access which would connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central.

“This expansion project will bring Metro-North’s New Haven line service into Penn Station,” Craig Stewart said, in charge of the MTA’s capital programs.

Still, as CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported, it will be years before the highly complex plan is complete.

“There’s 21 tracks, there’s 3 railroads. We’re trying to put 10-lbs of grain in a 5-lbs bag,” MTA Chairman, Thomas Prendergrast said.

The New Haven line now ends at Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan’s East Side.

There won’t even be room for more trains at Penn Station until the East Side Access Project, set to take LIRR trains into Grand Central has been completed.

“We cannot really run Metro-North trains into Penn Station until East Side Access is delivered and operating,” Prendergrast said.

That is set for 2022. Trains would run through Randalls Island, into Queens, and under the East River into Penn Station.

The transit agency is also proposing building four stations in the Bronx; buying subway cars, Staten Island Railway cars and buses; improving tracks, signals and other equipment; and upgrading bridges.

It also promises to complete the installation of positive train control systems, which are designed to automatically stop or slow a train before certain accidents occur. Four passengers were killed in a Metro-North derailment in December in the Bronx.

It may be eight years away, but the project means a lot to the Bronx.

“It takes a lot of car trips off the road, lot of bus trips off the road, brings people closer to their places of work,” MTA Board Member, Fernando Ferrer said.

The MTA system of commuter trains, subways and buses, serves 8.7 million riders a day. The agency says it doesn’t have enough money to fund its capital program. It says it has identified about $17 billion in funding sources that include money from Washington, bonding and $3 billion in unspecified MTA sources.

The MTA says it will work with its partners, including Connecticut and New York, to bridge a $15.2 billion gap.

The 2015-19 Capital Program is to be presented to the MTA board for approval Wednesday.

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