Wilton train station is a lonely place

WILTON — Far from being packed in like sardines, riding the train at rush hour is a lonely experience these days. And catching the train is even more important than before because it could be a long wait for the next one.

Susan Glass, who rides the train to and from Stamford, and Alfredo Gonzalez who travels to Wilton from Fairfield, usually make their journeys alone — or almost alone.

Glass, who lives in Wilton, is an oncology nurse at the Bennett Cancer Center at Stamford Hospital. She used to drive to work for many years, but as traffic got worse decided to take the train and still does, even now.

“The Danbury line isn’t necessarily kind,” she said of the schedule.

She catches the 6:41 in the morning. With her shift ending at 4, she used to take the 5:18 home.

“I made it work, there was no rush,” she said. The extra time allowed her to attend a meeting or get ready for the next day. The train got her home by 6.

With Metro-North ridership decreasing by 90 percent, the 5:18 was cut from the schedule and now her choices are trains at 4:40 or 5:55, so she makes sure to get on the earlier train which pulls in to Wilton at 5:10.

“What’s odd,” she said, “is there used to be 100 people on board. Last week I was the only one.” She’s the only one who gets on in Wilton in the morning and is usually the only one getting off in the evening.

“There are fewer than 20 people in all of Stamford station to catch the train,” she said.

Glass said she has no concerns about riding the train. “They clean it as best they can. You have to live,” she said. “I wash my hands a lot.”

At work, Glass works at an infusion center where cancer patients receive their chemotherapy treatments.

“I’m not working directly with coronavirus patients,” she said, adding cancer patients go through a comprehensive screening before being allowed in.

Because chemotherapy is not elective, patients may receive it on schedule.

“They are not allowed to have anyone with them,” she said. “There are no visitors, which is very sad.” If someone is in a wheelchair, a staff member will take them for their treatment.

“We want as few people in the infusion area as possible,” she said, noting they do not treat children or teenagers.

Stop & Shop

Alfredo Gonzalez, who works in the meat department at Stop & Shop on River Road, said “it’s usually just me” on the train he takes to South Norwalk, changing there to travel on to Fairfield where he lives. Last Wednesday, however, he rode with three co-workers, the only ones to get on the 5:06. He expected to get home by 6:30, but he got off to a slow start as the train waited for the 5:10 to roll in, which was 10 minutes late, before it could proceed down the single track.

Gonzalez said he doesn’t worry about catching the coronavirus on the train. “I do what I have to do. I keep sanitizer with me all the time,” he said, adding the stations worry him more than the trains.

The new schedule makes it tougher for him to get in to work on time.

“The earliest I can get here is 9:35,” he said, adding, “I took an Uber this morning.”

Gonzalez’s work schedule hasn’t made things any easier.

“Since the virus hit I’ve had one day off in the last three weeks,” he said. His department has been doing double its normal business and there are also fewer staff working because of the virus, he explained.

Days off, he said, are fewer and far between. “Tomorrow’s my day off and I’ll be working eight to 10 hours.”