Once upon a time, commuter rail lines offered a “bar car” for weary commuters heading home after a long day at work. As seen these days in Mad Men, the bar car would fill up with those who just wanted a beer before returning to their suburban enclaves. Although Amtrak has kept their cafes in order, over the last few decades, Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road have slowly eliminated the bar cars from their trains. Instead, passengers brown-bag it at Penn Station or Grand Central, and the extra space provides for more seating on crowded trains.
Currently, the final routes that still have a bar car run on Metro-North into Connecticut, but those might be on their last legs. As Michael Grynbaum related earlier this week, when Metro-North introduces the M8s this year, the bar car will probably not be included. Due to monetary concerns, transit officials aren’t sure if these relics will be included in the new train sets. “A decision was made early on that more seats on the trains was our top priority and that bar cars — as popular as they are — could wait,” Judd Everhart, a Connecticut DOT spokesman said. “It was about that simple.”
While bar car nostalgia enthusiasts are dismayed by the news, most passengers Grynbaum spoke with didn’t seem to mind. They’d prefer the extra sitting anyway. Meanwhile, the bar cars turned a profit of $1.5 million last year, but I have to believe more seats would easily cover that deficit if the MTA and Connecticut’s DOT are to do away with them on the new M8s. The beer in the terminals will, after all, continue to flow as smoothly as ever.