As Daylight Saving Starts, Some Ask: Why Fall Back at All?
DAMARISCOTTA, Me. — Several years ago, the owner of a sandwich shop on the main drag here grew so tired of turning the clocks back in the fall — and witnessing the early sunsets that followed — that he simply decided not to. That year, he kept his shop on daylight saving time all winter.
“We have such short days,” said Sumner Fernald Richards III, the owner. “It was very nice to get out in the afternoon and still have an hour or two of daylight.”
“我们的白天这么短，”店主苏姆纳·费纳尔多·理查兹三世(Sumber Fernald Richards III)说。“能在下午出门很好，还能享受一两个小时的日光。”
Changing the clocks brings grumbles around the country, and especially here, in the nation’s Easternmost region, where “falling back” in the wintertime means sunsets as early as 4 p.m. and sometimes earlier. But as the clocks once again were nudged ahead to daylight saving time in many parts of the nation over the weekend, foes of turning the clocks back in the first place saw a glimmer of hope in New England.
Efforts to alter time zones pop up around the country like spring tulips every year, and rarely get very far. But some in New England are trying a different tack this time: They want, in essence, to stay on daylight saving time throughout the year, and think that a concurrent regional approach could be the key. If multiple New England states make the jump at the same time, the thinking goes, it just might happen — even if that means taking the unusual step of splitting from the time zone of the rest of the East Coast, including New York City.
“We are a distinct region of the country,” said Tom Emswiler, a health care administrator in Boston who is part of a dedicated smattering of New Englanders pushing for the change. “If New York wants to join us on permanent Atlantic time: Come in, the water’s fine.”
The efforts to join Atlantic Standard Time would mean that, for about four months out of the year, some New England states would be an hour ahead of the rest of the Eastern time zone. Last year, Massachusetts created a commission to study the question. The states have not coordinated, but in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine, proposals have been filed that could open the possibility for such a change, at the very least, if their powerful neighbor — home to Boston, an economic driver — does.
“Our markets and our businesses would be operating ahead of New York; I don’t know how they’d like that,” State Senator Eileen M. Donoghue of Massachusetts said. She is chairwoman of the state’s commission, which has a major public hearing this week.
“我们的市场和我们的生意运营会比纽约早；我不知道他们会不会喜欢这样，”“马萨诸塞州参议员艾琳·M·多诺霍(Eileen M. Donoghue)说。她是该州相关委员会的主席，本周委员会要举行一次重要的公开听证会。
The idea, the senator said, requires much more study and perhaps, down the line, will merit a summit meeting of the interested states.
“When you look at the geography, we certainly line up more with the Atlantic time zone,” Ms. Donoghue said. Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and parts of Canada including Nova Scotia are on Atlantic Standard Time now.
Experts say the plan seems unlikely to come to fruition. Even if state legislatures passed these bills — and, so far, only New Hampshire’s House has — it would require either a regulatory action by the federal Department of Transportation, or an act of Congress. The governors of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have expressed reservations about making such a break.
But the debate has renewed musings about why, exactly, this part of the country is part of a time zone that may better serve cities to its west, and whether the region ought to boldly step away from its neighbors — maybe even on principle.
“Why do we essentially torture ourselves — in the spring in particular — and keep changing the clocks and messing everybody up?” asked Donna Bailey, a Democratic state representative from Saco, Me., who filed a bill on the matter this year. Under the current form of the bill, she said, Maine would have a referendum on the issue if both Massachusetts and New Hampshire made the switch.
“If we do it on a regional basis,” Ms. Bailey added, “you carve out a niche for yourself, that you don’t have to be so dependent on New York City.”
Any such switch would create a special complication for Connecticut since the northern part of the state is closely tied to Massachusetts, while many residents of the southern section commute to New York City.
The most frequently cited argument against a change is its effect on schoolchildren, who would most likely board buses in the dark on winter mornings. Proponents counter that the whole state of Maine, as well as communities including Boston, are considering pushing school start times back, too.
Plus, opponents say, such a change could create confusion for businesses and chaos for passengers taking Amtrak trains from New York to Boston and trying to figure out what time it is. Broadcast schedules — and with them, teams like the Patriots and the Bruins — could be affected as well.
“Once you start toying with the clocks, there are repercussions that people don’t bear in mind,” said Michael Downing, the author of “Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time.”
“一旦你开始摆弄时钟，人们记不住时间，总会产生不良影响，”《春天来了：每年一度的夏令时乱象》(Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time)一书的作者迈克尔·唐宁(Michael Downing)说。