Amy Paulin Meets with President of Metro-North to Account for Service Disruptions

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin arranged a meeting with Howard Permut, President of MTA, Metro North Railroad, to account for the delayed, overcrowded and cancelled trains that commuters have had to deal with during this past winter. They also discussed Metro-North’s plan to return reliability to the New Haven line going forward.

“Having heard from so many commuters about this winter’s dismal performance, I needed to fully understand why the system deteriorated so rapidly and what Metro-North plans to do about it. The bad weather was understandable, but we’ve had bad weather in past years with much less disruption,” stated Paulin. “This level of service is unacceptable - commuters are understandably upset that increased fares have not meant improved service,” she added.

While fully admitting that this winter’s service was unacceptable, Metro North reported that the New Haven line is the busiest and most complex rail line in the United States. The line is seeing an increase in the number of commuters due to commercial and residential development along the line in New York and Connecticut. The high level of last year’s on-time performance – 96.8% - masked underlying problems which surfaced this year including:

  • Aging fleet and deferred infrastructure maintenance – six weeks of snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures exposed all of the problems that exist from years of depending on old cars, most of which are over 30 years old. Every car has been repaired four times this winter resulting in up to 150 (40%) cars out of service.
  • Connecticut’s decision to delay costly infrastructure improvements including shops and replacement of century-old catenary wires, until recently has impacted the entire line. Unlike the Hudson and Harlem lines, the New Haven line is shared by New York and Connecticut with each state responsible for its own infrastructure repairs.

“Our customers have very high expectations for service on the New Haven line and Metro-North will continue to address their needs on an immediate, on-going basis. Our goal is to return quickly to a high level of on-time performance with the least amount of discomfort to commuters. However, until all of the new M-8 cars are in service and the maintenance and repair improvements are in place, some disruptions may still occur,” stated Mr. Permut.

Mr. Permut outlined what we can expect in the near future:

  • Maintain the reduced winter schedule to stabilize the operation and improve train reliability and reduce crowding. Revisit this revised schedule in the spring.
  • Continue to work around the clock and through the weekends until all the cars are repaired.
  • Metro-North and CDOT have purchased 300 new M-8 cars for the New Haven line which will begin entering service before the end of March. Deliveries of new cars will continue for the next two years. Approximately 80 cars will be in service by the end of this year. These custom-made cars were designed with safeguards against snow and ice accumulation. However, the older cars will still be required for service during the winter and beyond.
  • Connecticut is continuing to replace catenary and bridges and will continue this process.

Discussion also focused on the importance in fully funding the Railroad’s planned capital projects that will benefit the system and avoid the deterioration in reliability seen on the New Haven Line.

“I understand how very important the success of the New Haven line is to these communities and commuters and I will continue to call upon Metro North to account for any decrease in service,” stated Ms. Paulin. “I appreciate the calls and emails I received from constituents and ask you to please keep me informed about the situation,” she added.