Nono, this isn’t Fairfield (Metro-North). That’s next time I’m in the area. This is Fairfield Metro (Metro-North). Okay? We good? I know, it’s a little confusing. But, let’s dig into it.
Okay, so of course, getting off the train, the platform is very much still seemingly immaculate. You’ve got benches, a huge parking lot (this was built to relieve pressure on Fairfield!), and would ya believe it, it’s fully accessible! YAY! That’s by virtue of a bridge over the tracks, which have elevator access! Ticket machines also exist here. Lastly, you have bike racks on the inbound side, along with what looks like a busway. If it is a busway, it’s kinda useless since nothing stops here, well, at the station itself. GBT stops on Kings Highway just outside the station (0.1 mile walk) with one route.
The good: It’s got ridership, that’s for sure! Given that most of the parking lot was used when I was here, it’s clear that it’s serving its purpose as a relief station for Fairfield. Furthermore, most trains stop here unless it’s an express.
The bad: The platform is kinda long, maybe overly long, but then again some trains CAN be long. Plus, what’s with that thing that looks like a busway?
Nearby points of interest: Not a lot, but there are a few shopping centers nearby.
Transit connections: GBT (5 on Black Rock Tpke., 7 on Kings Hwy.), Metro-North (New Haven)
Overall, it’s a servicable station. It’s not bad, but it just feels like it’s lacking in character. Or, maybe, the character is in how modern it is. And, as a relief station for Fairfield, it gets the job done pretty well.
Oh boy. This one’s a biggie. So, we have an Amtrak station in the largest city in Connecticut, and it’s hardly used on that front. But on the Metro-North front, it’s very heavily used. So, let’s take a look. This one’s gonna be long.
So, let’s start things off with the GBT bus terminal. It’s well-lit, modern, and has a direct (albeit long) on-foot connection to the southbound platform. Furthermore, all the berths are clearly labelled so no guesswork has to be done. Would be nice if they had schedule info here, though.
From here, after burning my eyes out with the dots on the buses, I went back and into the station building. On the inbound side, you have the restrooms, an MTA Police booth, an MTA information booth (unstaffed), a Quik-Trak machine, a cafe, and access to the parking garage and Water Street. The station building itself is actually located directly above Water St., so that’s cool.
Access between the platforms is done via an underpass, which also provides more street access. Elevators are also found here, as well as solicitors.
On the other side, you have a much smaller waiting room, with another ticket machine and schedule info. Not much to say here aside from the views of the Pequonnock River (try saying that 5 times over quickly!) and the interstate. Now, the platforms. You’ve got a lot of benches here, and it’s all fully sheltered. Yay! Furthermore, it’s pretty good for railfanning as you have the sharp curve coming from Stratford to the north (it’s like that to avoid the hockey arena), and a significant amount of trains. I was here during rush hour and was taken aback at just the sheer amount of trains within a 10 minute span (at least 7-8!) You still have the view of the river, but with how things are you can’t get too many good shots of trains with the river. Street access to Water St. can also be had from here as well, by way of stairs.
The good: It’s got plenty of amenities! Restaurant on-site, ticket machines, the Quik-Trak, bathrooms, a fully sheltered platform, even direct sheltered access to the bus terminal! Furthermore, it’s an amazing station to foam at, with shots of the trains coming around the curve. Plus, the fact the inbound waiting area is above Water St. is a cool thing as well, along with the shots of the river and I-95.
The bad: Why isn’t there a layover track for Waterbury trains? That’s probably the worst thing about this station.
Nearby points of interest: Downtown Bridgeport and the hockey arena!
Transit connections: GBT (all), Amtrak (Northeast Regional), Metro-North (New Haven & Waterbury Lines), Coastal Link, intercity buses, Port Jefferson Ferry, prison (via MTA police)
Overall, it’s not a bad station. Probably among the best I’ve checked out so far. It’s like someone took the foamability of Canton Junction and gave it the amenities of Route 128 and the transit accessibility of Forest Hills, and threw it into Connecticut. This is, quite possibly, among my favorite stations.
So, from the middle of absolutely nowhere, to the heart of a small city (kinda). Let’s look at South Norwalk.
So, getting off the WHEELS bus (no entries on that yet!), I made my way up towards the station. Wait, oh crap I got off the wrong spot. Turns out, you don’t enter through the parking garage like at Wickford Junction. So, some more walking later, and finally I found the entrance to the platforms. And there’s a station building here, too! Sweet!
Of course, it’s your standard Metro-North affair, but the platforms are configured in a slightly more unusual way. With it being the terminal for the Danbury Line, the trains need somewhere to lay over. So, that’s where the extra tracks and the partial islands come in. Tracks 1 and 2 are your standard express tracks, mostly for Amtrak and express trains. Tracks 3 and 4 are used for trains to New Haven and Grand Central, while tracks 5 and 6 are used for Danbury trains. Here’s a visual from Wikipedia.
So, how’s the station itself? Well, the platforms are your standard affair with benches, a Pepsi vending machine, ticket machines, and a parking machine to pay for parking. Inside the station, you have some vending machines, plus bathrooms which are only open during morning and evening rush hour periods. The inside of the station looks nice though, with waiting areas on either side, connected by an underpass.
The good: It’s pretty much in downtown Norwalk! Furthermore, you also have Norwalk WHEELS deviating in here with every route that serves the station. Parking is (as far as I can tell) aplenty, and you even have two nice indoor waiting areas. Plus, it’s also the terminus for Danbury trains, so one could transfer between lines here.
The bad: That said, sometimes the platform listing is only a suggestion, as the Danbury train above was too long to fit on track 5. It’s also a bit of a ways away from the WHEELS Hub, and the locked bathroom is annoying.
Nearby points of interest: If you’re willing to walk a little, downtown Norwalk is nearby! You also have the Sono Collection shopping center and the aquarium nearby.
Overall, it’s a nice station. In a way, it reminds me of Wickford Junction, but with actual service. And, unlike some other stations, it’s properly set up to handle branch services. It’s also centrally located in Norwalk so one could get here without much hassle.
Hey kids! Ever wanted to be in what seemed like the middle of absolutely NOWHERE, but also with the sound of I-95 whirring about in the background?! Well now you can, at GREEN’S FARMS!!!
Alrighty, so first off, the platform situation is much the same as Stratford. You’ve got a mostly sheltered inbound side, and a bus shelter on the outbound side. Benches are everywhere, though! Plus, there’s what appears to be a cafe in the station building, but as far as I can tell it’s only open on weekday mornings during rush hour. Otherwise, all you get is a Pepsi vending machine. Ticket machines are also on the inbound platform.
As for parking, it’s obviously a park & ride, so it’s aplenty. Some spaces were left unused, but the vast majority of them were taken up. It’s also an alright spot for rail foaming, if you’re into that. However, I’d instead recommend another place, such as Bridgeport or South Norwalk, if the weather is bad.
The good: Well, it’s a decent enough spot for foaming! Plus, there’s plenty of parking and it’s pretty much right off I-95, so there’s that. Unfortunately…
The bad: If you want to get anywhere, you gotta go at least half a mile. By car it isn’t bad, as the interstate is only a mile and a half away. On foot, though, it’s a mile and a half to US-1. Yeah. This station’s pretty much in no man’s land. And, as for accessibility, it’s dubious at best. Yes, there’s level boarding, but good luck changing sides. Service here is also largely neutered vs. the rest of the New Haven Line, being a train an hour, vs. at least 2-3 on the rest of the line
Nearby points of interest: There’s a beach nearby if you’re willing to walk half a mile!
Transit connections: Metro-North (New Haven Line)
Overall, it’s literally just a park & ride. I got nothing much to say about it. It’s also got neutered service, but given the fact ridership as-is is high enough, if service is to increase, there should be a shuttle that runs to here and times with trains. Or, just go to Westport if you need midday service.
Oh boy, a Metro-North station! Yeah, the next several entries are going to be Metro-North. Anyways, let’s get into Stratford!
So, like the rest of Metro-North’s New Haven Line, Stratford is fully high-level. However, the platform’s a little short, as on the train ride here, the conductor came on and announced that doors would NOT open on the last two cars. Yikes.
Of course, what does the station have? It’s just your standard Metro-North affair with ticket machines, a vending machine, trash, and benches. Of course, the southbound platform is fully sheltered while the northbound one only has a small shelter. While annoying, this makes sense since most people here are going towards Grand Central, not New Haven. Fortunately, the station is technically accessible by way of ramps up to the platforms. However, crossing over isn’t really the most accessible, just like Milford. But, since the sidewalk is a little flatter, at least it’s easier.
The good: It’s quite close to where most of the things in Stratford are. It’s also close to the interstate as well, so one could theoretically use it as a park & ride. Furthermore, it’s your standard Metro-North affair of having garbage bins and benches on the entirety of the platform, along with a ticket machine. It’s also a transfer point with some Waterbury trains.
The bad: The lack of an inbound shelter, and the questionable accessibility. Hell, wouldn’t it be easier to just install an elevator to sidewalk level on both sides?
Nearby points of interest: The national helicopter museum on the outbound side! There’s also a bar on the inbound side, but I’m not sure how good their food is. The Docks is also nearby, along with a Dunkin’ and a Cumberland Farms.
Transit connections: Coastal Link, Metro-North (New Haven & Waterbury Lines)
Overall, it’s an alright station. Worse than Milford? Not really. But, I wouldn’t say it’s much better either. In a sense, I guess it’s just a copy-paste and not much else.
The WHEELS on the bus go round n’ rou- oh, not that kind of wheels? Oh, ok. 🙁
Whelp, that’s it. That’s literally all of the Wheels Hub. What ya see is what ya get. Now, it isn’t the worst thing in the world, but the biggest gripe is that the berths are haphazardly labelled with seemingly no rhyme or reason. Fortunately, however, you do get some seating and a little bit of shelter. But, as far as I can tell it isn’t heated. Also unfortunate, and I ain’t gonna sugarcoat it, there’s also a number of homeless people sleeping here. Make of that as you wish. Oh, there’s also a dot matrix sign that lists departures! Neat!
The good: It’s got labelled berths and countdown clocks! For a small-ish RTA like Norwalk WHEELS, I honestly would’ve expected less. But, hey, it’s a nice thing to have! Plus, the system operates on a pulse schedule (where all routes, excepting the Coastal Link, leave at the same time, guaranteeing connections with one another)
The bad: I mean, the lack of an information booth can be quite offputting. And, for an RTA’s central hub, I would’ve thought some kind of an indoor waiting area would’ve been halfway decent. Also, be ready to inhale the occasional diesel fume from the Danbury Branch’s diesel locomotives from time to time.
Nearby points of interest: Pretty much all of Norwalk! You also got CTtransit’s 341 to Stamford and the Coastal Link to Bridgeport and Milford. A short ride to South Norwalk’s Metro-North station can also get one to either New Haven, Grand Central, or Danbury.
Overall, it’s a serviceable transfer point. It’s not the best, and quite truthfully I’m sure worse exists. It’s a central hub for a small RTA, and it also serves as an inter-system transfer between the Coastal Link, CTtransit, and Norwalk Transit. Just be ready for the occasional Brookville, EMD, or GE diesel locomotive to pass under the nearby overpass.
Alrighty, the 261! This one was a bit tricky given the bus was PACKED. But, here we go!
So, once we finally got moving, we moved down Temple St, MLK Jr. Blvd., and then a left onto York Street. Passing by Yale-New Haven Hospital, the bus got even more full, and we pressed on. Of course, we were inching up Howard Ave. towards Sylvian Ave., but eventually we made it. As several stops, there were a trade of people where some got off and others got on, which persisted until we got out of New Haven. Naturally, the area was residential, and we took a few turns to Winthrop Avenue, down a one-way frontage road that’s for a nonexistent freeway, and down Governor Ella Grasso Blvd. This area was largely all park and cemetery, until we got to Route 1. Then we were in stroad hell.
So now that we were on Route 1, it was much of the same to the end, where it’s probably not worth even going into detail about. Businesses on either side generally, oversized road, a devi- wait WHAT?!
We deviated INTO A RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD. But, there’s a good reason. This was to serve what I suspect is probably a section 8 complex. It’s the only conceivable reason for this deviation, and hey it gets a decent amount of ridership so I’ll let it slide.
So, back to the usual. We go down US-1, stroad, stores on either side, yadda yadda yadda, copy-paste. Eventually, we make it to the Post Mall and it’s the end of the route.
The good: Well, it deviates into an apartment complex! It also links downtown New Haven with a bunch of shopping along a stroad, as well as malls. Oh yeah, there’s also a rush hour express variant which runs 2x daily each direction (weekdays only), which is nice.
The bad: This ain’t the fault of the 261, but it feels LONG, given the fact it’s just overly wide stroads once you get on Route 1. It also is kinda long though, with a prescribed runtime of about 40 minutes, but that’s normal. Point is, it feels longer than it really is. I seriously can’t help but think if New Haven (& surrounding areas) get rapid transit in the form of either light rail or subways, this should be a major stop given the high ridership of the 261.
Nearby points of interest: You got Yale Hospital, along with the University of New Haven, the mall, and a section 8 apartment complex!
Overall, it’s a good route. It tries its best, but it feels longer than it really is, and to be quite real, I feel this would be better paralleling rapid transit given the insanely high ridership. (unless my trip was an exception). It’s also nice there’s an express variant.
The first bus I chronologically rode this day, yet one of the later-published entries out of the 7 or so in my backlog. Well, here we have the 201. The best comparison I can draw in RIPTAland would be the 54 to Woonsocket, or the 230 to Montello in MBTAworld. Point is, it’s a bus route that goes miles and miles into the hinterlands of Connecticut. Let’s dig into it.
So the route begins with us pulling out of Samson Rock Drive, onto Route 1. Then we floor it. Occasionally we’d be picking up a passenger or two, but point is, we largely floored it through no man’s land. Rural? Yup. Small towns? Yup. Cemeteries and cemeteries everywhere too. Of course, we also crossed under the Northeast Corridor. Slowly, though, US-1 kept becoming more and more of a stroad as we pushed on-
Wait, why are we deviating?! Oh for god’s sake, we deviated to serve the Guilford Town Green. Hell, may as well go the full mile and serve Guilford’s Shore Line East station at this point. I’m not even sure if a 40ft bus can fit in there, but whatever. Moving on, after deviating, we came back to US-1, pressing on even further, passing not much other than a small shopping center and a roundabout marking the line between Guilford, Branford, and North Branford. Ridership really started picking up here, as we turned down Main St.
Now, as a fun aside, this stretch of the 201 was actually my first-ever experience with CTtransit, going from Branford’s SLE station to downtown New Haven. From here, it goes down through Branford’s town center, back to US-1. We have another deviation here, this time to Cherry Hill Park & Ride. There’s also a Walmart and a church past here, along with an apartment complex, but instead we just deviated into the park & ride. Moving on!
From here, it was STROAD CENTRAL. US-1 made itself clear it was a STROAD from here to New Haven. At this point it was Saltonstall Parkway. Wonder if it was named after the Saltonstall family of Massachusetts? Who knows. Moving on, it was, of course, a stroad so naturally there were businesses and strip malls on either side. Wait, what? US-1 is splitting?!
From here, the road became a frontage road. What’s a frontage road, you might ask? Well, the intent for them is to provide access to businesses and houses otherwise cut off by the freeway. Some areas will call it a service road or access road, but New England dialect calls it a frontage road. With this in mind, we went express onto I-95 southbound all the way into downtown New Haven, crossing over the Quinnipiac River.
LADY: “You from around here? I don’t recognize you.” ME: “Nah, I’m from Rhode Island.” LADY: “Which area?” ME: “Around Providence.” LADY: “Mmm. I remember always going to Misquamicut and the beaches down there when I was around 16. Now I’m 60, but despite being close, I haven’t been to Rhode Island too much. What’s your favorite local food?” ME: “Oh boy, that’s a whole can of worms.”
Lady then kept going on about stuff she can/can’t eat, and soon enough we were at the Green.
The good: Well, it serves a lot, to say the least. This route was made with linking the communities along the Shore Line to New Haven in mind, with timed connections to 9 Town’s 641 and 645.
The bad: I will say, it’d be nice if the bus deviated into Madison’s SLE station. Unlike Guilford, there’s plenty of space for a bus to pull in. Plus, it’d be useful for commuters in the area. Plus, the on-time performance can be a little dubious at times, but it wasn’t egregiously late.
Nearby points of interest: You’ve got the towns of Madison with the 9 Town connection, along with Guilford, Branford, East Haven, as well as downtown New Haven!
Overall, I’d definitely compare it to RIPTA’s 54 or the T’s 230, in that it goes deep into no man’s land. And, at that, it’s still pretty good.
Alrighty, the last of the Milford Transit entries! Now, this was the first one I’ve ridden. Now, let’s get into it.
So I boarded at the Post Mall, running to the bus. I boarded, a little confused and the driver said “It’s free, don’t worry.” Relieved, I sat down, and onwards we were. So, we went on to do a deviation towards Stop & Shop. The schedule says there’s a timepoint at a commuter lot, I’m not sure if this is it, but I’m gonna assume so. Needless to say, one person got on here. From here, we went towards Old Gate Lane and Woodmont Road, going under the interstate and passing a truck stop.
It was at this time I noticed these New Flyer buses had something a little special, that I haven’t noticed on any other agency’s New Flyers. Not even CTtransit or the T (or RIPTA, for that matter!) had USB outlets on their buses. Hell, not even GBT had them when I rode the Coastal Link back to Milford’s MNRR station from the Dollar Tree (after I rode the 3). Anyways, I digress
Moving on, the routing was simple. We went down Anderson and Merwin Streets, and up New Haven Ave. And yes, it was all residential. We eventually got to the intersection of New Haven and Buckingham Avenues, where I got off. From here, I walked the mile or so to Milford’s MNRR station for the other routes.
The good: It serves residential areas and a mall! Headways are also alright for an area where pretty much everyone has a car.
The bad: This one goes for all routes. It’s not clear which direction the bus goes down on each road until you actually ride it. The hourly headways can also be annoying, but whatever.
Nearby points of interest: Not much. You’ve got the Post Mall and a Stop & Shop.
Overall, it’s an alright route that gets the job done. I just don’t have much to say that I haven’t already said about the others.
Stay tuned, as next time I’m down here, I’ll be riding the entirity of the GBT/Milford Transit/Norwalk Transit Coastal Link!
Alrighty, round 2 of Milford Transit, and the most painful one. Let’s get into it.
So we begin leaving the train station in traffic, as the bus is slowly easing through. Eventually it picks up and- OWW, FUCK, MY ARM! Holy FUCK, what an asshole! Why would ANYBODY put the bus operator in a situation where slamming the brake is needed?! Needless to say, my arm ached for the rest of the day. Operator’s fault? Not really, I’m pinning blame on the driver who made the operator do it. So, that aside, we then turned down a side street where it was all residential, eventually turning down East Broadway. But, that was a dead end.
So, since we reached a dead end, what did we do? Well, the operator kicked the bus into reverse, of course! It always feels weird when in a bus that needs to go into reverse. I mean, at least it wasn’t as high-stakes as at the Pettine ITC when I rode the 24X on RIPTA, where the risk of hitting another bus or a person was much higher. Anyways, we came back the way we came, taking the first side street. Going up Robert Treat Pkwy, and turning down Meadowside Rd., it was still residential until the cows came home.
So, we passed through an apartment complex, passing by another beach. Eventually, we turned up Joy Rd., and went the way we came, though up Maplewood Ave., passing by the high school and ending the loop at a shopping center.
The good: Well, it goes deep into suburbia! I mean, it’s probably not the most efficient thing, but it’s sure as hell good if you operate on a flag basis, as for some riders that might mean door-to-door service. Neat. It also serves a few shopping centers, as well as the high school. Also, it serves a few parks and beaches.
The bad: It’s very loopy (in spite of it being a loop, it loops on itself BEFORE reaching the train station), disorienting even. Broad St. traffic can also be bad.
Nearby points of interest: Walnut Beach and Silver Sands State Park are the big ones I can think of. There’s also a small shopping plaza with the remnants of an old Kmart here, which was being razed.
Overall, it’s a decent enough loop route. It’s got a consistent schedule (though can run a little late) and goes to places where people would want to go. Just be ready for the operator to slam the brake.