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Connecticut Train Collision Exposes Cracks in the Northeast Corridor

10:30 AM PDT on May 20, 2013

Investigators are still poring over Friday's train derailment and collision in Connecticut. Early reports point to damaged track as the cause of the crash that injured 70 people.

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Meanwhile, Amtrak has said that the route connecting New York and Boston will be closed for several days while the investigation continues, and Metro-North says commuter rail service on the eastern end of the New Haven line will also be out of commission for much of this week. Alternate tracks are undergoing repairs, and that means the tens of thousands of people that rely on this rail line are in a tough position.

Bloggers around the Streetsblog Network today said this incident exposes how fragile the Northeast Corridor, a system that serves hundreds of thousands of commuter trips every day and 12 million intercity Amtrak trips each year, really is. Cap'n Transit says "we can't depend on the Northeast Corridor."

The lack of alternative service is just pathetic. "If all the trains use the same tracks, it doesn't really seem like there are many alternatives for getting into the city," New Haven resident Robert Li told the Stamford Advocate. "Especially if you don't have a car." There were bus bridges to get people home last night, but there are no buses, let alone trains, all weekend. This evening Eric Gershon of Yale News tweeted, "830 pm Peter Pan bus NYC to New Haven packed due to Fri MetroN #train #derailment. Long lines, short tempers at Port Authority."

Meanwhile, Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas says it's telling that a single incident like this could completely immobilize a significant part of the system:

The MTA and Connecticut’s Department of Transportation have put in place a plan for the 30,000 customers impacted by the 31-mile outage near the east end of the New Haven Line. On Monday morning, a shuttle train will run between New Haven and Bridgeport with express buses providing service to Stamford where trains to the city will be running. Local buses will operate to and from Bridgeport, Fairfield Metro, Fairfield and Westport, but no buses will serve Southport or Greens Farms. All in all, 120 buses from CT Transit, MTA Bus and other local companies will provide service. It won’t be enough.

Considering how many people are dependent upon this route for work, for life, for anything, this response is an indictment of the way we as a society view transit even in the most transit-accessible parts of the country.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto reports that plans are underway in the city for a 69-story tower with no car parking. The Political Environment wonders why the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is pushing a $123 million widening of a rural road while insisting that the state's finances necessitate a $10 million reduction in transit funding. And Cycle Main Street shares a short video explaining how America became "car country."

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