A Metro-North conductor beckons to riders. MTA photo

Gov. Ned Lamont and Department of Transportation officials on Monday announced the expansion of train service along Metro-North’s New Haven and Waterbury lines, an effort to serve more passengers even as ridership numbers continue to struggle to return to pre-COVID levels.

Three new express trains, which went into service Monday, leave New Haven on weekday mornings, at 5:09 a.m., 5:41 a.m. and 7:52 a.m., officials said. They will stop in Bridgeport and Stamford en route to Grand Central Terminal. On weekday evenings, new express trains to New Haven will depart Grand Central at 4:16 p.m., 4:49 p.m. and 6:26 p.m.

Seven new weekday trains will be added to the Waterbury line — four southbound and three northbound, according to a press release.

Lamont said the express trains were already part of the state budget. 

Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said the expansion of public transportation is a part of the TIME FOR CT initiative.

“With faster trains during peak hours and historic service levels, we are fulfilling the governor’s promise and vision for improved train service for riders throughout Connecticut,” Giulietti said. 

The increased capacity comes even as far fewer people are using the trains since the COVID-19 pandemic upended work and transportation habits.

On July 7, for example, the Metro-North railroad system had 58% as many riders it had on the same date in 2019

And workers aren’t returning quickly to desk jobs in Manhattan. According to a survey by the Partnership of New York City, 38% of Manhattan office staff were working in person in late April 2022. Even after Labor Day, in-office rates are expected to increase to only 49% of workers on an average weekday, according to the survey.

Catherine Rinaldi, president of the MTA Metro-North Railroad, said Metro-North is focused on increasing ridership during the weekdays by faster trips and by adding more trains to their schedule. 

“Metro-North is proud of our excellent working relationship with the Connecticut Department of Transportation,” Rinaldi said. “This partnership has helped bring faster service for customers who travel between Connecticut and Manhattan, and the highest level of service on the Waterbury branch in history.” 

Jessica is CT Mirror's Emma Bowen Foundation general assignment reporter for the 2022 / 2023 academic year. She is currently a senior at Central Connecticut State University pursuing her bachelor’s degree in journalism. She also works at her school’s newspaper, The Recorder, and peer mentored first-year undergraduates at Central. Jessica is a Connecticut native through and through.