Metro-North: You Can Still Get There From Here. Just Not As Easily.

It may be because Metro-North ridership is still down significantly — off by about 65% — from pre-pandemic levels.

Perhaps commuters are just used to the regional rail system taking away, rather than giving.

But Metro-North’s recent switch in service — longer trips, and the reduction of express trains — has generated little of the outrage usually associated with such changes.

It now takes 79 to 84 minutes — according to the timetables, anyway — to get from Westport to Grand Central on weekday mornings.

Afternoon/evening service is “quicker”: 70 to 76 minutes (63, on trains that discharge passengers only).

That’s still appreciably slower than our parents’ and grandparents’ commutes in the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

Not to mention the lure of express trains. They’ve now joined other the Concorde as relics from a bygone — but speedier — era of transportation.

A train streaks through Westport. But it will stop often. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

10 responses to “Metro-North: You Can Still Get There From Here. Just Not As Easily.

  1. Work from home life still there for many for another few weeks or months. Once people have to go back kicking and screaming, we will get back to talking about the lunatic, third world, embarrassing govt run metro north debacle. (No disrespect to third world nations). This should be privatized to be fixed and then can turn it back to the govt. it is longer to go to nyc than 50+ years ago when we had no cell phones or microwaves and gorbachev hadnt taken down the wall yet! Maybe the only salvation is that this area os already filled with people and no room left for more cars and traffic so making nyc even closer could be a secret strategy not to do it!

  2. I always laugh when I see Metro-North brag about how often their trains are on time. I’m like, well, sure, if you keep pushing back what “on time” means it’s easy for you to be on time!

    My commute from Fairfield used to take a little over an hour. Now it takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 minutes.

  3. I remember when typical was 55-57 minutes and the slow trains were 65 minutes! Even the pre-COVID time tables were silly. Everything in the world seems to have sped up…other than Metro North that is!

  4. Ah yes. “Privatization,” that magic elixir that fixes all ills. Privatization is why the US airline system is the envy of the world with on-time departures, pleasant travel conditions and affordable tickets for all routes at all times. And never, would this private system of airlines ever turn to the government for public funding in times of trouble!

    Anyway, what happened to 30-30-30? Things will return to some semblance of normal and — while probably every day commuting is a thing of the past — the train remains vital to many of us and an important economic engine for the area.

    I’m not sure how COVID can be blamed for continued extension of travel time. I remember there were :58 minute express trains to GCT when I was a kid from Westport. I’m writing this on a train now that is scheduled for just over 90 minutes from Westport to GCT.

    Maybe no one cares anymore because they don’t picture themselves commuting again any time soon– but if you care about the economic growth of the region, you should care about MetroNorth. It’s time for the governor, commuters and other stakeholders to put their foot down and apply pressure until trip times start shrinking again.

    • I would only assume that they are making more stops but running fewer trains because of the dramatically lower ridership due to the pandemic, stretching out the trips.

  5. You don’t have to go back to our grandparents to remember fast trains. I am retired now but in the nineties the morning express to GC was less than an hour.

  6. Privatization? Anyone old enough to remember when it was privatized? The government took over for a reason.

  7. I would like to amend my previous comment to talk about train comfort. Under the New Haven, passengers were carried on locomotive-hauled coaches with 4-abreast reclining seats that all faced forward. Upon government takeover, the seats were permanently positioned so half face backwards–saving the conductors from having to reposition them. Since then, with the multiple unit-equipment, we went to two and three seating. To be fair, trains originating in Stamford always had multiple unit equipment with two and three seating that, while facing forward, had their direction changed by flipping over the back–and the padding was super thin. Under Penn Central, they started using these uncomfortable cars in Westport service as well.

  8. Metro-north/MTA organization probably needs to be gutted. Lots of problems with the “new” trains and then the excuse became the tracks couldnt support fast travel, meanwhile the old trains went fast, as did Amtrak. It should take less than an hour from GCT to Westport/Fairfield. Any more is unacceptable. Looks at the games MTA/MN plays… they stopped tracking on-time for off peak… they started fudging the departure and arrival times by expanding them so they could say their late trains were on-time… this is all before the pandemic. How much do the engineers and ticket collectors make? Are they still playing the over time game to make $$$$?

  9. Steph Armstrong

    This is frustrating because more people will be going back to the office in Sept and Oct. Hard to understand why there was an express for a couple of weeks when the schedule was expanded in late August and they’ve suddenly axed it. (There may have been more than one express – didn’t memorize the schedule because I’m not back to the office until 9/16.)