Crash derails travel plans

Derailed train passengers were scrambling yesterday to make alternate travel plans after two packed commuter trains collided outside Bridgeport, Conn., injuring 72 people and smashing the rail lines that serve one of the nation’s busiest transit corridors.

With Amtrak suspending train service indefinitely between Boston and New York, travelers at South Station were looking for bus routes around the tangled rails caused by Friday’s crash.

One of the those travelers, Julian Wise of Palo Alto, Calif., said he wasn’t sure he would be able to reach his sister’s Yale University graduation on time today. Instead of a direct train ride, Wise was looking at three buses to get to New Haven.

“If I can’t get on my second bus, there’s a decent to good chance I’ll miss tomorrow,” Wise said, worried because he had been unable to print a ticket for that leg of the journey.

“I’m going to be spending eight and a half hours on buses,” he said. “It’s terrible.”

Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said travelers should make alternate plans and urged them to consult his state’s transportation website.

“I think this is going to be with us for a number of days,” he said.

Officials couldn’t say when Metro North rail service would be restored. Amtrak uses the same rails on its routes between Boston and New York.

Shavithri Singh of Boston said she tried to get an early morning bus to replace the train she usually rides to visit her sister in New York City, but because of the crash, the earliest seat she could get was at 3:30 p.m.

Jason Rockland had traveled by rail from his New York home Friday to watch his brother graduate from Boston University. He was headed home on a bus yesterday, but he wasn’t too disappointed because it was a lot cheaper.

“It’s saving me about $100. I didn’t even know (the bus) was an option,” he said. “I’ll be doing this again.”

He got word yesterday morning by robocall that he wouldn’t be traveling by rail. “The recording didn’t say it was a crash or anything, it just said your train has been canceled.”

Connecticut officials described the crash as “staggering.” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy called the survival of all 700 people on the two trains that collided “amazing.”

“My husband didn’t tell me about it last night because he thought I’d freak out,” said Newton resident Nahal Dabestani, who had planned to travel by rail.

“It’s a terrible tragedy and I’m trying to keep that in perspective,” said business traveler Mary Donnelly, a big fan of the Acela Express. “(The bus) is totally unpredictable because of the traffic. It took my boyfriend six-and-a-half hours to get to New York (by bus), it’s supposed to be four and a half.”