Our Commuter Comrade, Jim Cameron has issued a “commuter manifesto” blasting Metro-North and formed a “commuter action group” to turn up the volume on problems with the New Haven Line. He wants people to immediately report problems though his new group:
If there’s no heat on your train, report it. If it’s consistently late, report it. If the conductor is rude, report it. Every single time commuters see something wrong, now they can easily report it with detail and with pictures from their Smartphone. The railroad will have precise information to fix what’s wrong and should do it.
Cameron, who recently split with the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, explains how his group will work:
The Commuter Action Group will be the strongest possible advocate for commuters on Metro-North in Connecticut. We won’t have dues, and everyone can join. But we’ll make our voices heard every day.
The culture of incompetence and unaccountability at Metro-North has got to be reversed. Human error by railroad employees has resulted in deaths, yet nothing seems to change. The Con Ed power problem, the recent stranding of trains without heat on the coldest night of the year and last week’s complete shutdown because somebody ‘pulled a plug’ are all the result of mismanagement, not bad luck.
I’ve been riding Metro-North for almost 25 years and have never heard commuters this angry. Their frustration is more than justified because problems persist while all we get is lip-service from the railroad and Hartford. It’s time to hold them both accountable.
To make your complaints about Metro-North, Cameron has set up a web page. He has also set up accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
In a squeeker, oil money tops hedge fund money. New data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that Fairfield County has been surpassed by Midland, Texas for the top per capita income in the land.
My colleague Mara Lee has the full story.
House Republican leader Larry Cafero is charging that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is “cooking the books” by projecting a lower state budget deficit heading into the 2014 gubernatorial election.
Cafero criticized an accounting change by the governor’s budget office, which he said “artificially slashed $500 million of the expected budget deficit” for the first fiscal year after the November 2014 election.
As a result, the legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal office is projecting a deficit of $1.1 billion for the 2016 fiscal year, while the Malloy administration says the deficit will be about $515 million.
“Cooking the books to get beyond the next gubernatorial election is not going to solve the problem,” Cafero said. “Connecticut continues to head down the wrong fiscal path. The next governor, whoever that is, will be once again facing fiscal chaos, despite assurances made by Governor Malloy.”
Cafero added, “The fiscal policies have been failures, from the so-called shared sacrifices, the SEBAC union deal that saved no money, massive borrowing and the largest tax increases in state history.”
But Malloy’s budget director, Ben Barnes, says that the projected deficits in the “out years” are lower than some projections have been in the past.
Regarding Republican criticisms, Barnes said, “This is a well-worn page in their cynical propaganda manual. The reality is that the budget is in balance today, with a strong surplus projected for the end of the year. It will be balanced next year, with no new taxes.”
Jim Cameron of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council points out who will actually pay for the credit that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says Metro-North riders will get:
Metro-North says the refund money will come from operating expenses. Those expenses are subsidized 65% by CT and 35% by NY State. That means that 65% of the refunds to CT riders will be paid for, not by Metro-North, but by CT taxpayers.
Only if Con Ed reimburses Metro-North for the refunds will they not be paid for by the riders and CT taxpayers themselves.
Both Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal have called for Consolidated Edison to pay for the cost of the credit. Work on a Con Ed feeder cable likely caused the power failure that has crippled the New Haven Line.