If misery loves company, riders on Metro-North often delight in tales of their commuting woes. Here are a couple of recent incidents that are real doozies.
On September 27th, the 4:50 pm Shore Line East “Silver Streak” from
In the meantime, passengers were in limbo with no communications. Not seeing any sign of a conductor, passengers roamed the three-car set seeking answers. One rider even commandeered the PA system asking “Does anybody know what’s going on?” Turns out the one lone conductor on the three-car train had taken cover in his booth!
Metro-North later apologized for the lack of communications and the conductor was chewed out for hiding rather than helping.
Then, just last week, a Danbury-bound train was similarly stalled-out, this time brought to a halt by slippery leaves. Branch riders had been warned that day they may have to take busses part of the way home due to the annual ritual of decomposing wet leaves and the steep grade combining to make even a multi-ton locomotive lose the friction war with Mother Nature.
So, on Friday October 26th, the 5:16 out of
As one commuter recounted, “Not once (during the entire time) did the conductor make one announcement as to what was going on.” Once again, passengers were calling Metro-North’s help line to find out was happening on their train while being ignored by the onboard staff. When passengers finally tracked down the conductor he was, you guessed it… hiding in his booth. He claimed there was a PA problem, though he never walked through the three car train to explain what was going on.
If this is what happens when a train is brought to its knees by wet leaves, imagine what would happen in a real emergency? How would passengers know how to evacuate a train or deal with the injured when the lone conductor in the crew is too afraid to face the paying public?
I’ve written at length about conductors who neglect to collect tickets from all riders, but incidents like these lose the railroad more than money. They cost Metro-North credibility, goodwill and any confidence commuters might still have that things will ever get better on their commute from hell.
We can, perhaps, understand it when something mechanical breaks down. But the breakdown in communications is inexcusable. Maybe the conductors are tired of having to apologize for delays and such. That’s too bad. As the face of the railroad it is always their job to explain what’s happening and keep riders informed.
That incidents like these happen more and more often, tells me that Metro-North has some serious training problems… no pun intended.