More than 100 people packed a forum in Connecticut where Metro-North commuters complained about problems plaguing the rail service. Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker attended the ``commuter speak out'' Tuesday evening in Fairfield and took questions. The event was sponsored by The Connecticut Citizens Transportation Lobby. The Connecticut Rail Commuter Council held another forum on Metro-North service Wednesday in Stamford.
Riders complained about service delays caused by electrical problems, crowded trains and heating and cooling problems. Some commuters also accused Connecticut and Metro-North officials of not caring about them.
Wilton Representative Gail Lavielle says people are mad, and they should be. Not only are riders inconvenienced, late and uncomfortable, she says they don't feel safe any more.
Lavielle there are system wide problems, but she is mostly concerned about the Danbury branch. Gates at crossing are malfunctioning causing trains to have to stop before entering intersections. It's also sparked safety concerns for drivers. She is petitioning for the first train on the Danbury branch to be a through train once again so commuters don't have to switch at South Norwalk.
Lavielle says Connecticut has almost no leverage over Metro North. She says the railroad needs to fix practically everything because almost nothing is right any more.
A Metro-North derailment in the Bronx in December left four people dead and another in Bridgeport last May injured scores of people. Power outages and downed wires have stranded hundreds of passengers this year.
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board wants the Metro-North commuter railroad to make improvements in the wake of a December derailment that killed four people in New York City.
The recommendations issued Tuesday include inward and outward facing recorders on trains. The NTSB says recorders are valuable tools for investigators. It says understanding what was happening inside the cab just before a crash can help prevent future accidents.
The agency also is recommending speed-limit signs at all locations where a permanent speed restriction is in place. It says Metro-North already has installed signs at four such locations, including the accident site. The board has found that the train was traveling 82 mph on a curve with a 30 mph speed limit.
The railroad said it is closely studying the recommendations.