NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- Riders should be seeing improved service on Metro-North's New Canaan Branch, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Tuesday as he announced new M-8 cars are running on the branch as part of his drive to improve the state's transportation infrastructure.
"What I am leading with is: We are going to give you a full vision of a 30-year buildout, five-year ramp up, 25-year buildout, what a first in class transportation system would look like," he said. "It's going to be massive in expense and massive in scope."
He said his plan, announced in his State of the State address after his inaugural last week, will touch all parts of the state and include all types of transportation. The discussion has to be held even if some are concerned about the cost, Malloy said.
"I'm here to lead, and I'm going to show you what it looks like," Malloy said, adding that all ways to pay for the improvements will be examined.
Among those who welcomed the announcement was state Rep. Tom O'Dea, R-125th District for New Canaan and Wilton.
"I'm ecstatic to hear the governor's announcement and join him in calling for upgrades to the New Canaan line," O'Dea said. "I'm very pleased with this announcement and happy to join the governor in moving this forward."
Also in attendance were six state legislators from Stamford: Sens. Carlo Leone, D-147th District and L. Scott Frantz, R-36th District, and Reps. Caroline Simmons, D-144th District, William Tong, D-147th District, Dan Fox, D-148th District, and Livvy Floren, R-149th District.
Ridership is expected to increase 44 percent on the New Canaan branch in the next 15 years.
The new cars will run on the 7:32 and 7:58 a.m. trains from New Canaan and the 5:13 and 5:29 p.m. trains from Grand Central.
Stamford Mayor David Martin praised Malloy for his commitment to all forms of transportation improvements in his second term.
"To focus on this single point I believe is the most important issue for the economic viability of this region of this region and of this state, and I applaud him," Martin said.
Train riders, including New Canaan resident Tony Loomis, were surprised to see Malloy, along with aides and media, step onto the train at the Springdale station.
Although Loomis welcomes any move to improve service, he said he doesn't see any problems with the cars.
But he had one question about Malloy's goals: "What's it going to cost?" Loomis said with a laugh.
Currently, nearly all New Haven Line trains are operating with the new M-8s, with all 380 electric cars accepted and the first two of 25 new, single, non-powered cars already in service on the New Canaan Branch.
The original 380 order of M-8 cars operate in “married pairs,” but the 25 option cars ordered from Kawasaki Rail Car Inc. in 2011 operate individually.
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