Starting last week and continuing for the next two weeks the diesel engine and its fleet of cars which operate on the Waterbury branch will terminate its passengers on both sides of the Stratford train station.
The Waterbury branch starts in Waterbury, runs through Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Seymour, Ansonia and the Derby-Shelton train stations before dropping their 100 to 200 people on the platform in Stratford.
There is track work in Bridgeport where the train normally drops passengers and terminates. The regular commuters who use the station in the morning, afternoon and evening are finding this new arraignment more than a little difficult to deal with.
As a Stratford commuter, for years, I made the regular trip from Stratford to Westport, or Greenwich, or Grand Central in the city for fun and profit. Now it's out of Stratford and into the Big Apple from time to time.
Commuters are an interesting group. In the morning, they like to stand in the same place on the platform, next to the same people and drink their coffee in quite peace. That's gone even before the influx of the "Waterbury people" (as Stratford's commuters call the influx) because of the bridge plates over the track closest to the platform.
Commuters like to pick a seat, sit alone or with a friend and read or listen to music in the morning. Now that the "Waterbury people" have arrived there is usually a pushing and shoving match to get a seat and comments that can not be repeated in a family-friendly blog post.
The platform and waiting area was really not set up for an influx of some many people in a short period of time.
The coffee shop and the small adjacent restrooms are overrun.
Stratford commuters are usually a civil group even in in the morning with "thank you" and "good day" as part of their upbringing. This manner has been lost on the new arrivals. The morning is bad, the afternoon rush is worse and the late evening arrivals from and to Waterbury are a real nightmare and a physical danger especially after the sun goes down.
The restroom in the coffee shop closes at 6 p.m., leaving the herd to charge for the only other restroom close, located in the Station House Wine Bar and Grill. The owner and the manager of the bar and grill are kind-hearted souls and apparently do not want to put up the sign "restaurant patrons only" for restroom use.
After dark it gets "weird" around both sides of the station with people standing in the driveways, checking out the parked cars, the patrons and the staff of the restaurant, both male and female.
The use of some local trees and bushes after say 10 p.m. serve as an outdoor bathroom complete with a special odor as they commuters wait for the arrival or departure of the Waterbury train.
There has also been the additional odor of burning grass, not the green lawn variety, which has come to the attention of the one and only security guard who wanted to call the local police, then realized he would be in the same position as General Armstrong Custer if he made the call.
There is also the air and noise pollution from the diesel engine as it sits on the tracks next to the restaurant. The smell and the noise from the engine can be heard and sensed as far away as the Camelot Apartments.
The police coverage is a toss-up between the locals and the underpaid, understaffed and overworked "real" normal police officers of the Metro-North Police Department who have miles and miles of tracks to cover, trains to guard, stations to checkout and the ever increasing number of "suspicious packages," lost cell phones, brief cases and other such problems to deal with.
It might be a good idea for the locals to put down the coffee cup and the donut and drive into the parking lots of the station from time to time especially after the sun goes down, so that no Stratford resident finds himself or herself in harms way.