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.
That’s what some Connecticut legislators are talking about in the wake of a year-long safety crisis on the country’s busiest commuter line.
“We owe it to the people of Connecticut to vet other vendors for our rail service,” state Sen. Toni Boucher, R-Wilton, said at a hearing by the legislature’s transportation committee.
“Connecticut residents pay 65 percent of the costs associated with the functioning of Metro-North rail lines. Yet, recently service has deteriorated and this year the inaction of Metro North to not invest in safety improvements has sadly turned into multiple tragedies.”
At a Bridgeport hearing before U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal today, Consolidated Edison said it wasn’t going to cover the cost of the commuter rail shutdown last month:
Utility President Craig Ivey also said it would be unfair to his customers to bear the expense of reimbursing Amtrak, Metro-North or others who lost revenue during days of shutdowns and reduced service.
“It was your equipment that failed. So why should you not cover the cost?,” Blumenthal said during an hours-long hearing in city hall’s chambers.
“Our employees were following documented, time-tested procedures. We have not seen this (before),” Ivey said. “I understand this was an absolute inconvenience to the folks of Connecticut and New York.”
As part of the looming massive I-84 Project, the state has answered a question that probably occurred to you just this morning. Why is this short stretch of highway so damned clogged every day? According to the state Department of Transportation:
The interstate and interchange layout was originally built in the 1960s to accommodate 50,000 vehicles per day. Today, there are over 175,000 vehicles per day using this stretch of interstate. The closely spaced interchanges, left-hand on- and off-ramps, short weave sections, narrow shoulders and poor interstate alignment all contribute to driver confusion and congestion. The interstate layout, combined with the extremely high traffic volumes, can cause excessive traffic delays on the interstate and the city streets.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better because the massive I-84 tear down and rebuild is coming. The good news is that figuring out exactly how to rebuild this stretch of road could take a decade.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will hold a press conference in Grand Centeral Station today. He will be holding the presser around the corner of the office of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is probably just a coincidence.
Malloy had this to say in a statement:
“Needless to say, I am frustrated at this situation and continue to press the folks at Con Ed and Metro-North to fix it as quickly as possible. But until the problems are alleviated, we need to take whatever steps we can to help mitigate congestion on roadways,” Governor Malloy said. “Our state transportation crews have halted all routine road work in the area and are working to ensure that the expected increase in traffic moves safely and efficiently.”
The federal government will pay for a new $10 million train platform at New Haven’s State Street Station. The new platform is expected to make it easier for trains running on the planned New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail line to enter and leave the station without delay.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro said the federal grant “will enhance train service in New Haven and beyond, helping both commuters and businesses on a daily basis.”
Although all funding for the proposed $600 million commuter rail line has not been secured, the state hopes to being running trains on the route by 2016. The Metro-North-style commuter line would extend for 62 miles and feature 16 trains per day.
The Connecticut Airport Authority Board of Directors voted unanimously to create economic development incentive zone at Waterbury-Oxford Airport, the governor’s office said Monday.
The zone has two different incentives associated with it: a five-year, 80 percent reduction of local real and personal property taxes and a ten-year credit on part of the state’s corporation tax.
Republican lawmakers from the area and Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy praised the decision by the 11-member airport panel as one that will help generate economic activity at Waterbury-Oxford. The governor’s office says that more than 6,500 aircraft used the airport in 2010.
Capitol Watch’s Daniela Altimari reports in today’s Courant that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed two new laws that could make it a lot more expensive to use your phone while trying to dodge traffic.
It’s already illegal to use a handheld device while on the road in Connecticut, but starting Oct. 1 the fine for that offense goes up and drivers who talk or tap the keys while behind the wheel could also see their car insurance rates go up. The other law Malloy signed means that drivers could face those penalties even when their car isn’t moving.
Supporters say the goal of the new measures is to make Connecticut’s roads safer. Federal traffic statistics showed that thousands of deadly crashes across the country last year involved a distracted driver. And some anti-texting advocates even say that efforts to curb phone use on the road will be like the campaign to discourage drunken driving.
Here’s one texting while driving PSA created in 2011 by the Ad Council:
Democratic Congressman John Larson says Congress has to do more to fix up the country’s infrastructure–especially the parts that are holding back water from towns and neighborhoods.
Larson took to the House floor Tuesday and said that local governments in Hartford and East Hartford need more federal support for levee repairs.
“Congress cannot continue to sleep while our infrastructure erodes from underneath us,” he said in a statement afterward. “We must come together and invest in our infrastructure to ensure the American people are safe, secure and back to work.”
Here’s full video of Larson’s remarks–watch the volume; he’s pretty fired up: