U.S. Rep. Jim Himes said that 100 years ago, rail transportation was more efficient than it is today. One of the reasons that service on the New Haven Line of Metro-North has been so bad for commuters is because Connecticut is not represented on the Metropolitan Transit Authority Board.
"If you look at the differences between the Hudson Line, the Harlem Line and the New Haven Line, you can see that [the Hudson and Harlem lines] have modern cars with modern service," he said when he sat down with members of Main Street Connect's editorial team Wednesday.
Meanwhile, riders on the New Haven Line are stuck with cars that have been in service long past their expiration date. Himes said that when M. Jodi Rell was governor, she did not show much interest in getting Connecticut more representation on the board. "It's never been a priority for Hartford," he said. "Hartford relies on Fairfield County for a lot of their revenue, but they are not close to their heart."
Speaking of trains, Himes also brought up the proposed cross-harbor tunnel, which would allow more freight to be moved by rail across New York Harbor. Only a small percentage of goods are transported across New England states by rail. The majority of it is done on the roads.
"That's why when you drive on I-95 at 4 a.m. you see the red brake lights of trucks lined up as far as the eye can see," he said. The proposed $6 billion plan for a cross-harbor freight tunnel would move a lot of that transportation of goods onto the rails, which would free up roads.
Himes, who rode Metro-North for several years, said the New Haven Line is usually reliable in safety and on-time service. "The new M-8 cars, as they've been saying for years, will be delivered soon," he said.
However, the new cars are not expected to arrive for several months. In the meantime, riders are stuck with the old cars, which are more susceptible to break down in harsh winter weather.
What is your reaction to Jim Himes' thoughts on rail transportation? Share your opinion in the comments below.