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Sunday, June 20, 2010

FROM WALLINGFORD - Ready for that commuter train

As published in the Record Journal – Sunday June 20, 2010

Last week I needed to travel to Florida for business and I was flying out of JFK. I tend to take flights from New York because I can get the direct flights I need without needing to stop for layovers and connecting flights and so forth.

Generally this means that I have to burn up about eight gallons of gas round trip, pay the tolls on the way and then there’s the cost of long term parking that just went up 20 percent (per day).

The travelling costs for a trip like this (gas, tolls, parking for seven days) is generally about $165.

So for this last trip I decided to try something different.

I got a ride to Union Station in New Haven and I took Metro North to Grand Central in Manhattan. From there I walked a few blocks to the subway and I took it to Jamaica Station. At Jamaica Station I grabbed the AirTrain directly to JFK.

I did the exact opposite for my trip home as well.

The cost for the train ticket to Grand Central was $38.50 round trip and the cost of the subway round trip was $15.00. My total savings was $110.00. If you want to cut $10 for my father’s fuel to Union Station in New Haven you’re still talking about a savings of $100.00.

Now this trip did take me an extra two hours of time each way to allow for train and subway schedules and travel time but the time was my own.

I wasn’t driving my car; I was free to read the paper or work on my laptop or even nap a bit (and I did all three).

Actually on the way down my original departing flight was cancelled so from the train I rebooked my flight. I could have done that from the car while driving but it would have been difficult to do safely. From a passenger seat of the train it went about as simply as possible.

Now if I was travelling with my wife and the kids or with a lot of bags this would obviously not make sense to do and it would actually cost more.

When you consider all of the single commuters out there you can see where the savings are. Not just in personal dollars but in costs from the consumption of fossil fuel and other costs of a single commuter on already overcrowded roads.

The only missing piece to this puzzle is getting from Wallingford to New Haven.

Amtrak only has six to eight trains (depending on the day) that travel the line — half before noon and the other half after. They are long travel passenger trains that generally are not well suited to be used for commuting.

The plan to bring a New Haven to Springfield commuter line is way overdue. There are New Canaan and Waterbury lines that serve the western side of the state in a north/south fashion and then there’s the Shoreline East that serves from the Old Saybrook area westward into New Haven.

There’s a big gap in the coverage of commuters along the I-91 corridor. Something that the New Haven to Springfield commuter line will resolve.

I am going to be headed to a Yankees/ Mets game on Saturday and I am going to take Metro North but I’ll have to park in the Union Station garage. This is a far better solution than driving into the city and try to park but it would be so nice to hop a train in Wallingford and change for the Yankee Clipper in New Haven.

This solution might be a few years away yet but I am one commuter that is looking forward to the arrival.

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