February 19, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Southport, CT—Connecticut commuters who ride Metro-North’s New Haven line had the opportunity to voice their complaints to Metro-North, demanding the railroad improve service and on-time performance. Video
James P. Redeker, Connecticut’s Transportation Commissioner, joined by John Kesich of Metro-North, said they were there to hear commuter’s concerns and to gather information that Metro-North can use to improve customer service and communication with riders.
Metro-North is currently under investigation by three different entities—the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board and the MTA Blue Ribbon Panel—stemming from a May 17, 2013 derailment in Bridgeport, CT, a May 28 fatal accident involving a foreman and a December 1 derailment in the Bronx.
Redeker said it was important to hear from commuters.
“What appears to be missing from [the investigations] is the customer base and so for me tonight this is one, but not the only opportunity, to include the voice of the customer in an improvement plan for Metro-North.”
On Monday, Metro-North’s new president, Joseph Giulietti and MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast, travelled to Hartford to meet with Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. The governor has publicly stated that unless Metro-North makes changes he would seek other operators such as Amtrak to run the busiest commuter line in the country that runs from New York’s Grand Central Terminal to New Haven, CT.
The governor announced at a press conference after the meeting that Metro-North would be releasing a 100-day plan to improve the New Haven line that includes improving communications with dissatisfied riders and completing track work causing bottlenecks in the Bronx.
There were a lot of angry commuters who spoke at the meeting at the Pequot Library in Southport, CT. One commuter told Redeker and Metro-North’s Kesich that the Metro-North has to start providing better service.
“We depend on that railroad to get us to our office in the morning so that we can perform our jobs and be productive. We’d like to catch those trains home so that we can catch our kids at a school night or sporting event,” he said.
He added that without better service and performance, there’d be economic consequences for Connecticut.
“How many people are going to want to buy homes and pay taxes in Connecticut with the type of commute they’re going to have.”
The Regional Plan Association just released a new report, “Getting on the Right Track,” on how to improve the New Haven Line. It notes that the line needs about $3.6 billion through 2020 to rebuild aging infrastructure.
In an interview, Redeker said additional funding would help to improve Metro-North’s on-time performance along the line.
“Federal funding is already a major part of the New Haven line. More resources would help. It’ not the only answer, but long term, it’s funding,” said Redeker.
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