Murphy Rides Train, Asks Riders For Input

Valley Independent Sentinel

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy Monday launched a new online survey to hear directly from Metro-North passengers about their experiences along the Waterbury branch line.

Murphy also hopped on the train to ride from Waterbury to Bridgeport to hear from riders about ways service can improve.

Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti and Derby Mayor Anita Dugatto rode the train with the senator, as did James Gildea, a Derby resident and vice chairman of the Connecticut Commuter Rail Council, a group that has been calling for better local train service.

As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Murphy said he is looking to receive feedback on the reliability and safety of the Waterbury line as he works to secure federal investments in rail infrastructure and safety upgrades that support economic development and job creation opportunities throughout Connecticut.

Metro-North’s Waterbury Branch Rail Line passengers are encouraged to complete the online survey by clicking here.

“I am thrilled to have been joined by a cross-section of municipal leadership to ride the Waterbury-Bridgeport Branch Line today to encourage investment in this line, so that we can make it a more regular and reliable benefit to consumers,” Murphy said in a prepared statement. “Here’s the simple reality on the Waterbury Branch Line: if you build it, riders will come. I heard over and over again from riders on this line today that they don’t use it because of its infrequency. And over and over again, people told that me that if there was more regular service – if there were trains leaving on the hour or on the half an hour – they would be riding it twice as much.”

Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti speaks at the Bridgeport train station Sept. 21 after riding the Waterbury branch line with Sen. Chris Murphy.

Murphy continued, “I also heard stories about people who were losing money and valuable time with their families because of the current schedule. I talked to one gentleman who is a barber in Bridgeport. He has to refuse several clients every week, because has to get on the 6 o’clock train in order to make it home to his family every night. He is literally losing money because of the infrequency of service. I talked to a young mother who commutes to a dentist’s office in Fairfield, who has to wait an hour and a half every afternoon to catch the late train – an hour and a half that she could be spending with her 6-month old.

“We know that there’s a thirst for mass transit in this state, and I’m hopeful that we will encourage investments from both Hartford and Washington. I am pushing for more investment in mass transit from the federal government. I’m going to bring these stories back to Washington to tell my colleagues about why we need to make investments in this line. More regular service on the Waterbury Branch line will unlock thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic development potential all along the Route 8 corridor and we need to start demanding that the federal government be a true partner with these new state investments to make that a reality,” continued Murphy.

Murphy’s statement said the senator has led several efforts to pass a new transportation financing plan that increases the amount of federal support Connecticut receives to improve our roadways, bridges, and rail lines.

Earlier this year, Murphy called for $555 million to ensure that the Northeast Corridor gets all of the investments it needs to provide safe passage for the millions of riders who travel along its rail lines each year.

About 75 percent of all public transportation trips are made in 10 large urbanized areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Miami, and Atlanta. The New York City urbanized area alone, including parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, accounts for about 4 of every 10 public transportation trips nationally.