Commentary on transportation in Connecticut and the Northeast by JIM CAMERON, for 19 years a member of the CT Rail Commuter Council.
Jim is also the founder of a new advocacy effort: www.CommuterActionGroup.org
Disclaimer: his comments are only his own. All contents of this blog are (c) Cameron Communications Inc
November 22, 2014
Promises Still Not Kept
once said: “Judge me by my actions, not
my words.” So let’s do just that
comparing recent rhetoric to reality when it comes to Metro-North.
EXPANDED SERVICE: During
the election campaign much was made of a promised expansion of off-peak train service,
growing from one train an hour to two.
But when the new timetable came out November 9th riders found
that the 14 newly added weekday trains don’t stop at five stations: Southport, Greens Farms, East Norwalk,
Rowayton and Noroton Heights.
pleas from the CT Commuter Rail
Council, CDOT chose to skip those stations to save ten minutes’ running
time between New Haven and GCT. There
was never an expectation that the new trains would be semi-express, just a
promise of expanded service. What
ADEQUATE SEATING: Though
we now have more rail cars than ever before, thanks to delivery of the new M8s,
many trains still don’t have seats for every passenger. The
Rush hour standees
railroad’s own “Passenger Pledge” promises
every effort to provide adequate seating, and Metro-North’s statistics claim
that 99.6% of all trains have enough cars.
So why the standees?
ON TIME PERFORMANCE: Yes,
should always come first. But
October saw only 86.7% of trains arrive “on time” (defined as up to 6 minutes
late). In the morning rush hour OTP was
only 82%. And this is despite three
timetable changes since the spring, lengthening scheduled running times to
reflect new Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) speed restrictions. They keep moving the ‘target’ and still can’t
get a bulls-eye.
RELIABLE SERVICE: The
new M8 cars are performing well. But
diesel push-pull service on the Danbury and Waterbury branch lines has been
unreliable. September saw several locomotive
fires and break-downs, stranding passengers or forcing “bustitutions” (bus
COURTEOUS EMPLOYEES: Most
Metro-North staff does a great job under often-times difficult
circumstances. But there are clearly
some employees who either hate their jobs, their customers or both. Hardly a week goes by without The Commuter Action Group
hearing complaints about surly conductors snapping at passengers. Yet it’s hard to complain because these
staffers violate railroad rules to always wear their name badges.
been a year since a sleepy engineer drove a train off the tracks in the Bronx,
killing four and injuring 70. As
Metro-North President Joe Giulietti himself acknowledged, the railroad has lost
the trust of its customers. Rebuilding
goodwill, like the infrastructure, will take years.