Rail Transit Development Program

In 1992 HART completed the Rail Transit Development study for HVCEO. The study identified the need for long-range planning to promote and advance the use of public transportation resources (such as the Danbury Branch Line service) to relieve congestion on the highway system. It was also reported that the public had continued expectations for expanded and augmented public rail service and that Connecticut DOT was presently preparing the Danbury Line for future demand. In 1990, 40% of Danbury Line trips were intrastate.

The people in the region in 1992 showed strong support for extending rail service north to New Milford and for adding service extensions in the I-84/Route 7 area. The study recommended capital improvements over the next 10 years that would total $61 million if the New Milford Station was added.

The following capital improvements were recommended for the following years:

1993 New Danbury Station
1993 New Bethel Station
1994 New stations – northern extension
1994 Centralized train control and grade crossing signals
1996 Engineering/design for maintenance and car storage facilities
1997 Maintenance facility
1998 Car storage facility
1998 Passing sidings
1998-1999 12 new locomotives

The long-range service plan also called for an additional morning and evening peak through train to Grand Central Station for a total of 5 peak through trains, selected main line station stops between South Norwalk and Greenwich for intrastate riders, continued operation of the 2 peak morning and evening reverse commute trips, and improved off-peak and weekend service frequencies from 2 hours to 1. The study also looked at Connecticut resident usage of Harlem Line Stations.

Competing Rail Transit Service
The study investigated the potential competition between Connecticut and New York rail stations that occurs based on the close proximity of the lines and the time savings that can be gained by utilizing one over the other. Stations on the Harlem Line were surveyed to discern the state of origination of rail riders. More than 15% (394 cars) of the cars parked at the surveyed Harlem Line Stations had Connecticut license plates. The largest percentage of Connecticut license plates were found at these stations: Dover Plains, Harlem Valley/Wingdale, Brewster, Purdy’s, and Brewster North. At least 2 Harlem stations have significant overflow parking along the highways and roads adjacent to the stations. The overflow problem was the greatest at Croton Falls, Purdy’s and Goldens Bridge where more than 20% of the overflow cars had Connecticut license plates. When counting the total number of cars parked at the Harlem Line versus the Danbury Line Stations, more Connecticut residents used the Harlem Line Stations.

A Westchester County report found that 10.9% of the cars parked at Goldens Bridge and 17.2 of the cars parked at Katonah had Connecticut license plates. The Westchester County report also found from traffic counts along the eastern end of Route 35 that extends from Ridgefield into Westchester County that 82.9% of the cars were from Connecticut, many bound for Harlem Line train stations. Finally, the Westchester County report included a rail commuter survey that identified significant percentages of Connecticut residents who would use convenient bus service along the Route 35 corridor to the Katonah and Goldens Bridge Stations.

Despite the higher parking fees at the Harlem Line Stations for Connecticut residents, most chose to use them anyway. Annual parking fees at the Harlem Line Stations ranged from $200 to $500 for nonresidents in 1992. Connecticut residents chose to use New York Stations because the travel times were faster and the route was more direct. The Table below shows the differences in peak travel time by rail for the Harlem and Danbury Lines.

Peak Travel Time (minutes) from Harlem and Danbury Line Stations

Harlem Line Station Peak Travel Time Danbury Line Station Peak Travel Time
Dover Plains 122 Danbury 115
Harlem Valley 112 Bethel 108
Pawling 105 West Redding 102
Patterson 99 Branchville 95
Brewster North 88 Cannondale 87
Brewster 85 Wilton 82
Croton Falls 77 Kent Rd. 81
Purdy's 73 Merritt 7 76
Goldens Bridge 70 South Norwalk 61
Katonah 66 Stamford 48
Bedford Hills 62    

The peak travel time discrepancy by location is even more obvious as shown in the map in below. 1992 Rail Transit Development Program Map of Peak Travel Times (in minutes)

 

Study Sections
 

Route 7 Corridor Travel Options Implementation Plan
Danbury Branch Line Shuttle Feasibility Study
Rail Transit Development Program
Danbury Branch Line Service Study
The Untapped Market for Rail Passenger Service
Action Plan for Restoring Passenger Rail Service to New Milford
Congestion Mitigation Systems Plan “Vision 2020”