New West Haven train station connects West Campus

The newly opened West Haven train station will help facilitate collaboration between scientists at Yale’s West Campus and visiting researchers.
The newly opened West Haven train station will help facilitate collaboration between scientists at Yale’s West Campus and visiting researchers. Photo by William Freedberg.

A new stop at the recently opened West Haven train station will help make Yale’s West Campus more accessible to visiting and faculty researchers this year.

After more than a decade of planning and $130 million in state funding, the station officially opened to Metro-North and Shore Line East traffic Aug. 19. West Campus researchers said the station may improve the daily commute for many of the more than 1,000 faculty, students and staff at the school, as well as facilitate greater collaboration between West Campus and Yale’s peer institutions.

While shuttles from main campus to West Campus used to run every hour, these shuttles now travel between the two campuses three times an hour, stopping at the West Haven train station until 11:05 a.m. each morning. This development signals the campus’s increasing connectedness and importance to the University, said Scott Strobel, the vice president for West Campus planning and program development.

“I think [the station] will be fantastic because it provides an opportunity for public transportation to the campus,” he said. “The train station is about a mile from the east entrance to the campus, and it is a really easy straight shot.”

State officials settled on the West Haven location because the stretch between New Haven and Milford had been the longest segment on the Metro-North line without a station, Connecticut Rail Administrator Eugene Colonese said. He added that while the state discussed the station with West Campus administrators once the campus was acquired by Yale in 2007, the University was not involved in the early stages of the planning.

Director of the West Campus Systems Biology Institute Andre Levchenko said the train is a “very attractive option” for commuting to campus from his home in Madison, Conn., 27 miles east of West Campus. While it remains to be seen whether the researchers’ work and train schedules mesh, Levchenko said the train provides a reliable travel option without the unpredictability of road travel.

“I think it’s just a wonderful alternative to have that didn’t exist before,” he said. “I-95 can be notoriously busy, so having something that doesn’t leave you at the mercy of the traffic pattern is very good.”

The new station is also making West Campus more accessible to outside collaborators, like Columbia professor of chemical engineering Ben O’Shaughnessy.

In the past, O’Shaughnessy took Metro-North to Union Station in New Haven and then traveled the remaining six miles to West Campus by cab or coach. Now, O’Shaughnessy said the “almost door-to-door” train service will spur Columbia researchers to visit the West Campus more often.

“We are making frequent visits to the West Campus to do experiments and discuss science,” he said. “A more direct connection is fantastic for us.”

The city of West Haven is planning improvements to the mile stretch from the station to West Campus, including a bike path and sidewalk, Strobel said.

The station features two 1,100-feet tracks, state-of-the-art ticketing services and a 658-car parking lot.

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