MTA change will impact early riders in Wilton

Commuters who use the Danbury branch of Metro-North will see some changes beginning Monday morning.

The first train in the morning out of Cannondale, which departs at 6, and out of Wilton at 6:04, will now depart two minutes later. Despite this seemingly bad piece of news, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders assures riders the train will still arrive at Grand Central Terminal at 7:38.

That, however, is not what has riders upset. The first train, which used to have direct service to Grand Central, will now require a transfer in South Norwalk at 6:26. The train riders transfer to will depart at 6:31.

Those who are used to having a direct train into New York are concerned about the change.

“To be asked to get up and leave your seat on the train, it’s a rude awakening,” said A.P. Duffy, of Wilton. “I’ve been riding the train for 25 years, and you get to know some of the people. Some of us heard about this on the train as an aside but nothing was formally announced.”

Ms. Duffy said riders confirmed it with a conductor. The change is also indicated on the schedule for Monday, Nov. 18.

Ms. Anders said the schedules, particularly those on the branch lines, are determined by the state of Connecticut.

“Beginning Sunday, it will require an across-the-platform transfer to electric equipment at SoNo, but the connecting train will still arrive in GCT at 7:38 a.m., said Judd Everhart, director of communications for the Connecticut Department of Transportation.” This is because electric trains operate at higher speeds than diesels.”

“The diesel equipment can then be used for the first-ever reverse peak train to serve Danbury from SoNo in the a.m. peak, departing at 7:33 a.m.”

Ms. Duffy was still concerned about reaching her office.

“That’s a big change for some people. If we have an 8 o’clock meeting, we’re not getting there,” she said. “Even getting to my desk by 9 is difficult, in the best-case scenario. Getting out of Grand Central can be difficult, and there’s no guarantee that the train will be truly on time.”

“Also, those trains out of SoNo will be packed, so getting a seat will be impossible.”

According to the Department of Transportation, an average of 130 to 140 rider per day take the first Danbury Line train.

She said Metro-North can claim an on-time train if it arrives within just under five minutes of the printed arrival time.

According to Metro-North’s new schedule, effective Sunday, subsequent peak trains will arrive at 8:15 and 8:47.

She said she sent an email to Metro-North to express her concerns.

“Every schedule is by nature a compromise and not set in stone and we will share your comments and concerns with the Operations Planning Department for their consideration during the planning sessions for future timetable changes,” said the response from Metro-North customer service.

Ms. Duffy indicated she tried to organize a petition for commuters to sign, but was greeted with resistance by a conductor who he said “was trying to protect his company.”