Metro-North Commuters "Want Their Railroad Back" for 2014
HARTFORD, Conn. - The year 2013 saw fatal derailments, track deaths and collisions on the Metro-North Railroad, and a local commuter advocate believes that the wish of most riders for next year is pretty basic. Metro-North riders don't like being left without information, according to the advocate, Jim Cameron, past chair of the CT Metro-North Rail Commuter Council and creator of the Talking Transportation blog. He said he believes that what they want for 2014 is timely and accurate information.
"Well, I think the first thing they'd like is their railroad back," he declared. "Ever since the derailment in May, the trains have been running considerably slower, and there hasn't been much explanation as to why that has been the case."
Cameron admitted that many of the slowdowns are safety-related and have been built into newer train schedules, so patience will be required. But he said the railroad might get less grumbling from commuters if Metro-North were more forthcoming about the changes and the reasons behind them.
The General Assembly Transportation Committee met earlier this month, with lawmakers expressing concerns that some commuters don't feel safe riding the Metro-North. Cameron agreed that safety is a top concern.
"Commuters ... have seen a pattern of derailments, collisions, track deaths: since those problems, the Federal Railroad Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, they are all over Metro-North," he said. "So, I think the trains are safer now than they certainly were six months ago."
A 5 percent fare hike goes into effect January 1, but Cameron said Metro-North riders can still take action now to save themselves a few bucks.
"Ten-trip tickets are good for six months, and one-way tickets are good for sixty days. You can buy them online and save yourself some money, but make sure you don't buy more tickets than you can actually use."
Cameron noted that this is the third 5 percent fare increase for Metro-North commuters in as many years.
Cameron's blog is at TalkingTransportation.blogspot.com.