More trains resumed service on the CTrail Hartford Line on Monday. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hartford Line, which includes Amtrak, was running 34 trains per day, with an average of 2,400 daily riders.
In mid-March, the Connecticut Department of Transportation suspended some of the train service and fewer than 12 trains a day were available. Ridership dropped to fewer than 100 people a day, according to Richard Andreski, the bureau chief of public transportation for the DOT.
With ridership starting to improve to 300-400 people a day, the DOT added more trains back in for a total of 22 trains per day.
The trains are thoroughly cleaned at the end of every day, Andreski said.
“The key message I’d like to give to folks is if you do your part by wearing a mask and by socially distancing, by all means, come back to public transit. We have room for you, the trains are safe. We’re doing our part to keep the trains clean,” Andreski said.
Some riders are not worried.
“It doesn’t bother me. If you do what you’re supposed to do, sanitize, keep your mask on, you should be alright. I mean we can’t fear this virus. If we live in fear then what’s the purpose of being alive,” said Lenore Stellmacher. She rides the train a couple of times a month between Hartford and Springfield to see her family.
While the idea of taking public transportation is still concerning to others like Daisy Garrett. She previously took the bus to get to the University of Connecticut’s School of Law.
“Not very safe. To be fair, I would probably take an Uber. I also have a part-time job at the campus so I just try to use that money to pay for Ubers. I’d rather not take the chance. My dad’s actually an essential worker and my mom has asthma, so I’d rather not worry about potentially bringing that into our house,” Garrett said.
The DOT has not seen the same dramatic decrease in bus ridership. Andreski said 70% of riders continue to ride the bus in Connecticut.
All public transportation riders are encouraged to purchase tickets prior to boarding. Cash transactions are suspended onboard trains and at ticket offices. Customers are also told to wear a mask on all trains, platforms, and stations and to practice social distancing.