Fairfield train stations mostly vacant Monday

Buses sit next to an empty platform awaiting riders displaced by rail service suspension Monday, May 20. Few boarded the buses. (John Kovach Photo)

Buses sit next to an empty platform awaiting riders displaced by rail service suspension Monday, May 20. Few boarded the buses. (John Kovach Photo)

Buses lined up at two of Fairfield’s three train stations Monday, waiting to ferry commuters who usually ride the train.

Few of those riders showed up.

The Fairfield Metro and downtown Fairfield stations were oddly empty Monday morning, May 20, as southwestern Connecticut faced the first of what could be days of commutes around a major rail disruption.

Service is suspended while Metro-North works to repair severe damage caused by Friday’s derailment and subsequent collision involving two trains, and replace track that amateur video shows has been strewn like matchsticks connected by twisted paper ribbons.

Fairfield stationed police at the downtown and Metro stations, where the MTA and Connecticut Department of Transportation arranged to replace trains with shuttle buses. There were no trains or buses in and out of the Southport station.

Around 7:10 a.m. Monday, normally a time of cars jockeying for parking spots and commuters dashing to catch trains, nothing was happening at Fairfield Metro. The parking lot was perhaps 80% empty. Many of the cars there likely were parked by police or Metro-North employees stationed there to handle the anticipated throng of rail riders. Instead, eight buses said lined up, shortly after one departed with three passengers.

“We spent the weekend planning for the absolute maximum with the MTA and our commuting partners,” Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara said at the Metro station Monday. “We’re finding, at least at Fairfield Metro and the Fairfield main station, the lowest volume we’ve seen in months.”

Few spaces at the downtown Fairfield train station were occupied Monday, May 20, as commuters drove to work or remained home, absent rail service. (John Kovach Photo)

Few spaces at the downtown Fairfield train station were occupied Monday, May 20, as commuters drove to work or remained home, absent rail service. (John Kovach Photo)

A similar scene was playing out downtown, where a vast expanse of empty parking spaces filled the vista from Unquowa Road. A lighted sign advised commuters of limited bus service, but only two people were there seeking a ride shortly before 8 a.m. Monday.

Highways were clogged early Monday. One person at the Fairfield Metro station, whose shift started early, said it took 45 minutes to drive from Stratford to Fairfield, a trip that usually takes one-third of that time.

MacNamara predicted the train stations would not remain vacant as the week wears on.

“People will have to return to work,” he said.

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