Saturday, August 23, 2008

Transportation Center

It's been some months since I last heard anything about plans for a consolidated transportation center at the train station. In fact, I think it's been two years since any noticeable progress has been made. Lately, I've started taking the train from Waterbury on a regular basis, so I am more aware than ever of the need for the transportation hub. I love taking the train, it's a million times better than driving to work, but our "station" needs some upgrades.

I don't like parking at the railway (I can't call it a station, since all we have right now is a platform). The parking lot is full of shattered glass from car windows that were broken into. There is a very large sign that originally claimed that This Lot Is Monitored, only someone has used spray paint to change it to Not Monitored. Because I never seem to be able to get out of the house early enough to park in the Ramparage on Field Street, I've been leaving my car at the railway lot. No damage to it so far, thank goodness. Maybe all the broken glass is old. There's no sign that the city ever cleans the parking lot.

If the buses ran late at night, I'd get up earlier in the morning to walk the half hour downhill to the train. It's great exercise. Walking home after dark while carrying my purse and computer is less great. But the Waterbury buses stop running at 6pm, so I have to take my car. If the buses ran until, say, midnight and had the proposed transportation hub as their starting/ending point, that would be fantastic.

Because our beautiful brick train station was sold to the Republican American, all we have now is a platform with minimal amenities--trash and recycling containers, benches and shelter from the rain. If you need to buy a ticket, you can purchase only a one-way, higher price ticket on the train. Other train stations have ticket machines selling the full ticket options for less right on the platforms.

The amenity I most long for is a coffee shop at the railway. Someplace to quickly grab a coffee and a portable breakfast (egg & cheese sandwich, for example). Diner food to go, located right next to where you get on the train. (Please, no Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts! The mini-diner at the Bridgeport station is perfect, albeit expensive--$2 for a small coffee, another $2.75 for the egg & cheese sandwich; I can get the same thing at Penn Station for half the price.)

Returning at the end of the day, there are always taxi drivers on the train platform asking if anyone needs a taxi. There's really no other way for them to go about this, since there is no taxi stand at Waterbury. I suppose it's a system that works, but it means that anyone can stand around claiming to offer taxi rides. Not the safest situation. I'd be a little scared to walk off into the dark with some guy claiming to be a taxi driver. Fortunately, there are always plenty of people around. There's a regular little traffic jam on Meadow Street when the train pulls in. Within ten minutes, the regular commuters are long gone, the joyful reunions are over, the bags are loaded into cars, and all that's left are the small number of people sitting by the sidewalk wondering when their family or friends are going to pick them up.


Peter said...

To what city do you commute?

Waterbury Girl said...

The big one!

Anonymous said...

The lot belongs to Metro North, not the city.

Waterbury Girl said...

Actually, according to a State of Connecticut report published January 2007 ( dpt/Waterbury_Individual_Station_Report_092106.pdf), maintenance of the parking lot is the city's responsibility.

Peter said...

I commuted from Waterbury to New York from early 1994 to the summer of 1997. Except on a few occasions, mainly during bad weather, I drove into Westchester and got trains on the Harlem line rather than going from Waterbury. What with the only connecting train leaving Grand Central at almost 6:30 pm, using the Waterbury route wouldn't get me home until after 9. As I understand it, the evening connection is even later today. If Metro North wants to make Waterbury a viable commuting location they would have a connecting train leaving Grand Central around 5:30 or so.