Officials are bringing in temporary transformers to restore some service to a heavily traveled Metro-North line crippled earlier this week by a power failure as commuters endured another rush hour of headaches.
The Metro-North’s New Haven line is only serving about 33 percent of its ridership after a 138,000-volt Con Edison feed loader failed Wednesday, causing extensive delays along the entire length of the line, which serves dozens of towns and has stations from Grand Central Terminal to New Haven, Conn.
Con Ed officials are hoping to get more trains running on the line, currently powerless between Stamford, Conn., and Grand Central Terminal, with three transformers that should supply 13,000 volts of power to the rails. The stopgap measure will be tested over the weekend, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said Thursday, with hopes of restoring some electric train service into New York City.
It's not clear how many trains could be served by the transformers and it could still take weeks to restore full power to the railroad, authorities said.
In the meantime, commuters have been scrambling to find alternate routes, planning additional travel time or deciding to stay home altogether. Thursday night, mobs of commuters rushed platforms at Grand Central to catch one of the 24 diesel trains running into the city. Other commuters took alternate lines to catch a shuttle bus home, and parts of Interstate 95 turned into virtual parking lots as drivers clogged the highway trying to find alternate transportation.
One rider, Moe Ferarra of New Rochelle, said Thursday she was getting fed up with the delays.
“I’m paying an exorbitant amount of money to come into work -- for what?” she said. “Train service that’s consistently late? For problems like this and they’re saying, 'Well it might be a couple of weeks so commute from home.’ Well, some of us can’t telecommute.”
Matt Sullivan, 27, an architect, said it usually takes him half an hour to get to Grand Central from his home in Greenwich. That doubled when he drove to White Plains, N.Y., and took the Harlem line.
"It's disappointing but my company will give me a laptop so I can work from home a couple of days," he said.
Malloy said at a press conference Thursday that his state is pushing Con Edison and Metro-North to restore service as quickly as possible. He said inconvenienced commuters should get ticket refunds.
"I'm the governor of 125,000 pretty unhappy commuters right now," he said. He called the service disruption "a horrendous situation."
A second high-voltage line serving the trains had been out of service for two weeks for planned repairs, officials said, and it was unclear if its absence caused extra strain on the line that failed Wednesday.
The MTA, which oversees Metro-North, and Con Ed both said Thursday they believed full service could be maintained by the single feeder line. It hasn't been determined what caused the outage.