NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The nation’s busiest commuter rail line appears to be getting busier every year and it’s now official; the New Haven Line will be bringing back the immensely popular ‘bar cars.’
To make sure that bringing ‘bar cars’ back won’t cause trains to get more crowded, the state is going to buy even more rail cars for the line.
Ridership on Metro-North is up 12 percent in the past six years despite record low gasoline prices. Because of that, the state will purchase another 60 Kawasaki M-8 Rail Cars to increase rider capacity by another 6,000 seats for a new total of 465 M-8 cars. By popular demand, ten of the new cars will be modified as cafe or bar cars and will serve beer, wine, soda and snacks.
A prototype will be developed at the modern rail car maintenance facility in New Haven and then Kawasaki will build the other nine at their plant in Nebraska. The Governor says the timing of the bar car announcement was not planned as a way to take the sting out of an expected 6 percent fare hike in December. State tax payers will still be picking up 40 percent of every Metro-North train fare through the state tax on gasoline. The fare increase will help pay for the loans that are paying for all the new cars.
“We don’t want to substantially increase the subsidy amount and therefor from time to time we have to make adjustments in fares,” said Governor Malloy at the announcement in New Haven Tuesday.
The old bar cars that were phased out in 2014 were immensely popular and DOT says requests to bring them back have been constant.
“The bar car, yeah, left a lot of good people in a cheerful mood, so that’s fine,” said reverse commuter Peter James of New York City.
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“On Friday, especially, they’re stressed out, it’s the weekend and I think it’s great thing that the Governor’s doing,” said commuter Caryl Anderson of New Haven.
The first Metro-North bar car should be ready to roll in the summer of 2018. The M-8 rail cars cost $3.85 million each and the bar car modifications add another half million to the cost but the DOT says the profits from the beer, wine, soda and other treats will cover the extra cost.
The Governor says he wants to be able to showcase some of the local Connecticut craft beers on the new bar cars.