State Senator Proposes Scrapping Metro-North as Rail Operator [NBC Connecticut]

February 13, 2015

Article as it appeared on NBC Connecticut

In light of service concerns over Metro-North Railroad, Republican State Sen. Toni Boucher is seeking to scrap Metro-North as proprietor of the nation’s busiest commuter line and bring in new management.

Metro-North Railroad has a contract with the State of Connecticut that goes back 30 years, and was signed back then as a 60-year commitment.

Periodically, during the life of the agreement, the contract can be renegotiated and that’s exactly what Boucher wants the General Assembly to authorize.

“Do you think that things have changed in 30 years?” Boucher, who represents Norwalk, asked during an interview at the South Norwalk Metro-North station on Thursday. “They certainly have. The contract is very disadvantaged toward Connecticut.”

Boucher said she’s heard from constituents who complain about poor service on Metro-North, like delays during the morning commute.

Officials with Connecticut’s Department of Transportation said those who want to put the rail system management out to bid don’t have a clear idea of how the line operates.

“It’s probably the most complex commuter rail system in the United States,” Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said in a statement Thursday. “We have to be very careful.”

Boucher said it makes sense for the legislature to at least consider the prospect of finding a replacement for Metro-North to show that the state is serious about seeking improvements.

“For some reason, our DOT has some fear in regards to tampering with it right now, saying that it’s too big or too complex, saying that no one else can do as good a job. How do you know that?” Boucher said. “We have nothing to lose.”