Where are all the M8s?

A picture I took of an M8 at Stamford station at a time when I saw them much more often.

Metro-North Railroad is in the middle of replacing its older train cars with a model called the M8, manufactured by Kawasaki. They include such features as pre-recorded audio with station stop announcements (and matching signage), higher headrests one every seat (and easier grips for people to be able to safely move about), and other technology advancements that come with redesigning a train car 40 years after the last major redesign.

The only problem is, I’m having trouble finding them.

Metro-North’s regularly-updated M8 page says more than 150 of them are now in the possession of the railroad, out of 405 currently on order (an additional 25 is available as an option). They also claim almost half of weekday service now runs on the new trains, a pretty big accomplishment given that they weren’t even around 20 months ago.

Yet I ride on one maybe 10 percent of the time right now, which seems odd given their percentages, and especially considering I ride in the evenings well outside of rush hour nowadays.

The numbers seemed to have changed right around the time Metro-North increased their service levels during off-peak times, but made a change right around the time in the morning, 8:10, that I’m usually at the station, by splitting up two trains.  The train I take most often, the 8:18 out of Stamford (which had been the 7:52/7:53 when I was departing from Bridgeport), had been almost exclusively M8 since the first batch of M8s rolled out, but since the flip it’s not only been back to the older trains, it seems to be shortchanged cars now and then, making it harder to get a good seat on what had been previously been a comfortable train. (For the purposes of this, I don’t count middle seats in particular; I’m not a small guy, and middle seats rarely work out as a result.)

Now, it could be that I’m seeing less of them as a result of warranty repairs that are being made to the M8s, so I’m hopeful that this is a temporary setback.  But it does seem disappointing that two years in, and with more than 150 cars available, I’m actually seeing less M8s than a year ago.

SOURCES: MTA 1 and 2, Stamford Advocate

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