‘We Would Have To Move Our Business’: Local Business Owners on the Prospect of Reduced Rail Service to New Canaan

Delivered with a thud last month and underscored by state transportation officials during a recent forum in town, proposed severe cuts in train service on the New Canaan branch line has prompted residents to decry the effect it would have on property values and the ability of visitors—for example, those traveling up from New York City to see the Philip Johnson Glass House—to get here. Less obvious though no less important is the effect that proposed elimination of weekend service as well as off-peak weekday service to New Canaan would have on local businesses, merchants and service providers say, largely because those who work here rely on the train. Steve Karl, vice president at Karl Chevrolet, said that as a business owner in New Canaan, “the news of limiting the train service to our community is the last thing we want to hear.”

“By cutting back the off-peak service and the complete elimination of weekend service it affects our business in a number of ways,” Karl told NewCanaanite.com. “First of all, the employees who use the train to commute will be affected and these are some of our hardest working employees who rely on the train every day. Secondly, due to the proximity of the train station to our store, we frequently sell vehicles to clients who travel by rail to pick them up at our location.

First Selectman To Address DOT Commissioner on Potentially ‘Devastating’ Rail Service Reductions

The town’s highest elected official said this week that, facing the threat of several reduced rail service on the branch line here, he plans to lay out New Canaan’s case for head of the state Department of Transportation. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan during a Board of Selectmen meeting Tuesday said he will write a letter thanking DOT Commissioner James Redeker for coming to New Canaan for a forum last week, and explaining “why the loss of off-peak trains would be devastating to New Canaan’s economy and our commuters and our real estate values.”

“The impact could be very serious on New Canaan,” he said during the board’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. Though some of New Canaan’s delegation to the state legislature have called the possibility of reduced service “an idle threat” from Hartford, what the town heard from Redeker during the Jan. 24 forum “was serious because he could save $7 million by eliminating that service on that branch line,” Moyhihan said. The comments came at the prompting of Selectman Kit Devereaux, who asked Moynihan just what he was doing to advocate on New Canaan’s behalf.

Metro-North train winter

Transportation Chief: Rail Service Cuts, Fare Hikes Coming Soon Unless Alternate Funding Found

Rail fare increases of 21 percent over three years, starting with 10 percent in July, and another 10 percent hike next year, cuts in train service on weekends and off-peak times on the New Canaan Branch, and bus fare increases are coming unless the state finds some funding alternative. That was the harsh message Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker gave New Canaanites on Wednesday. About 60 people went to the meeting in New Canaan Town Hall. “This is not my wish […],” Redeker said. “I’m trying to do this in a rational way, but it’s certainly not a pleasant way.”

CT Transportation Commissioner: No Immediate Plans for Canopy for Commuters at Talmadge Hill Station

Though it’s not planned just now, state officials say a canopy will be installed on the platform at Talmadge Hill Station along Metro-North Railroad’s New Canaan branch line. Following a press conference Tuesday with the governor at Springdale station, NewCanaanite.com asked Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker about the canopy at Talmadge Hill—a project that was to have been completed 10 years ago. “Right now it’s not programmed for an investment,” Redeker said from the platform at Sprindale. “You can see here we actually installed these canopies this past year, platform extensions. So we believe as part of this line upgrade we should have all those canopies done and we should upgrade all of our stations in addition to taking a look at parking expansion.”

The Talmadge Hill station has only a few scattered weather shelters, but not a canopy—the responsibility of the state, as per New Canaan’s lease with the DOT.