Sen. Boucher: “A commuter customer service pledge without sanctions for failure to deliver is one with little benefit.”

January 23, 2014

Hartford, CT – State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) ranking member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee released the following statement today re: Wednesday night’s Metro North train incident where 200 passengers were stranded on the tracks in Westport in 10 degree temperatures for two hours.

“I am grateful that no one was seriously injured in this latest incident on the rails however, this Metro North maintenance issue doesn’t seem to be getting any better. A downed wire due to weather is one thing, but then a mechanical switch problem on top of it is disconcerting.

“I am once again renewing my call on the Governor and the Commissioner of the State Department of Transportation to request an oversight board be put in place to monitor Metro North’s procedures to address problems. It seems as though our commuters are being tested on a weekly basis. When will they feel safe again on this rail line?

“I have worked really hard with the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council and the Department of Transportation on a commuter customer service pledge. This pledge is born out of my Rail Passengers’ Bill of Rights – much like an airline bill of rights – brought before the legislature several years ago after commuters were stranded in 100 plus degree heat for nearly an hour.

“When rail passengers board a train, they should expect that they will be treated with dignity and they should expect excellent communication from Metro-North. A commuter customer service pledge without sanctions for failure to deliver is one with little benefit.

“The customer service pledge is posted at the train stations and contains the following expectations:

  • Metro-North Railroad is dedicated to delivering safe and reliable transportation. Our highest priority is to ensure customer safety and this pledge is always subject to that paramount concern:
  • A Safe, Reliable Ride – Our top priority is to provide transportation that gets you to your destination safely, comfortably and on time. Rail cars will have functional lighting, heat in winter, air conditioning in summer, public address systems and clean restrooms. Metro-North will use best efforts to schedule service to meet anticipated demand so as to provide a seat for every customer and conductors will enforce rules to maximize seat availability.
  • Accurate and Timely Information – We will provide accurate, timely and meaningful information on service conditions, including via email alerts,, customer service phone lines, station displays, news, and public address announcements at stations and onboard trains to keep you informed and allow you to plan your trip wherever you are.
  • Courteous Employees – Employees will be helpful and courteous at all times and will provide accurate and timely information to customers. Conductors and Assistant Conductors will wear visible name badges when on duty. Our goal is always to provide excellent service.
  • A Clean Environment – We will maintain a clean environment for our customers and the communities we serve, including on railcars, at stations and in station buildings we maintain. We will work to keep our property on and off the train clean and litter-free. In areas that Metro-North does not control, we will work with state and local agencies to pursue the same standards.
  • When service is disrupted, customers can expect us to respond quickly and customer safety will remain our No. 1 concern:
  • Alternate Transportation – We will make every effort to stop trains at stations and open the doors to allow riders to seek alternate transportation and will provide customers with information concerning alternate routes and means of transportation. If Metro-North cancels service, we will make every effort to provide customers with emergency bus service whenever possible.
  • Comfort – If a significant incident occurs that prevents us from bringing a train to a station or that strands a train in a station for an indefinite amount of time, we will move immediately to assist affected riders. Emergency personnel will be dispatched to offer medical assistance and efforts will be made to provide water. Onboard personnel will walk through trains regularly and provide accurate and timely information to customers. If efforts to move the train are unsuccessful, you will be evacuated safely – either to another train, to a nearby station or to another facility designated as a temporary shelter. To facilitate these efforts, it is essential that customers listen for crew announcements. Metro-North encourages its customers to stay on, and never leave, a stranded train that is between stations unless directed to leave under the supervision of the train crew or rescue personnel, or if a clear life-threatening situation exists.
  • Weather Emergency Notification – If it becomes necessary to temporarily suspend service when extreme weather is forecast, we will use all our communication means so you can “know before you go.”
  • Severe Service Disruption Procedures – Metro-North customers will be given up-to-date information regarding service restoration, including estimates when service will resume.
  • Refund Processing Fee – A customer with an unused One-Way or Round-Trip ticket may receive a waiver of the $10 refund processing fee when a Metro-North service suspension is declared on the MTA website.

“Rail riders deserve better than what they are getting.”