Updated: Sunday, 10 p.m.
Bridgeport — Commuters in southwestern Connecticut should brace for a headache of a commute Monday.
And Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday …..
Metro-North will provide bus service to commuters who normally travel on the tracks between Bridgeport and South Norwalk starting Monday morning. But officials say there are not nearly enough buses to accommodate the 20,000 or so riders who would be affected. The buses will also likely move more slowly than usual down I-95 south, competing with those who decide to drive instead of take the train.
A state Department of Transportation release with some information on the bus schedules is available here.
In the aftermath of the collision between two Metro-North trains on the New Haven line Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy urged commuters to avoid traveling during rush hour if possible, and to work from home if at all possible.
“Residents should plan for a week’s worth of disruptions,” he said at a news conference Sunday.
Friday’s accident sent 70 people to the hospital, as well as causing significant damage to a portion of the rail system between Bridgeport and South Norwalk.
Federal investigators will be on the scene of the crash for the next several days, trying to determine what happened. It took them about a day to examine the wrecked rail cars before cranes could begin lifting them out of the way Sunday, allowing the railroad to start repairing 2,000 feet of tracks. But it could be days before full service is restored.
Federal investigators say they will not determine or speculate on the cause of the accident anytime soon.
Last year, Metro-North’s New Haven line recorded 38.8 million rides — the highest ever for the line, despite lost ridership because of disruption from Superstorm Sandy. More than 100,000 daily trips take place on the line each weekday. Amtrak’s New York to Boston service is also at an all-time high, with the national rail service boasting more than half of the air-rail market share between those two cities in 2010.
Between the New Haven and South Norwalk stations on the rail line, 11,000 trips are made during morning rush hour on weekday.
Malloy said there will be a system “to move people from Bridgeport to the next closest station that can handle that kind of traffic,” but he did not say when that would be in place. For now, commuters will have to drive to South Norwalk or Stamford, where trains are running on regular service to Grand Central Station in Manhattan.
The NTSB could take months to investigate the cause of the derailment. It is the worst accident on the 30-year-old railroad since 1988, when two empty trains collided, killing an engineer.
The NTSB said Saturday that a rail fracture found on one section of the eastbound tracks was “of special interest,” and investigators will send that portion to a laboratory for further analysis. But it is unclear if the fracture might have caused the crash or been a result of it.
Both trains that crashed were made of new M8 rail cars, which the state had purchased in the last few years for billions of dollars.
Metro-North Commuter Council Chairman Jim Cameron said he predicts “car-mageddon” Monday as commuters scramble to get to the South Norwalk and Stamford train stations.
WNPR radio, 90.5 FM, will be airing information on the train crash and its impact on commuters, businesses and others Monday, starting at 7 a.m.