Senator Hwang: Demand Accountability and Leadership at Metro-North Railroad

April 14, 2015

State Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) released the following statement April 14 in response to a report from the MTA Inspector General which found inadequate management controls in Metro-North Railroad’s Communications Division:

“The MTA Inspector General’s report highlights what I would characterize as a total failure of accountability and management at Metro-North. The troubling reality, as we know from each previously released report, is that this culture has permeated nearly every facet of their operations for far too long and, sadly, led to well-documented safety shortcomings and the loss of commuter confidence.

“I am encouraged that Metro-North’s new leadership is already taking action to address these shortcomings. I implore them to do so with the necessary sense of urgency, as this report undermines the already seriously compromised public confidence in Metro-North.

“The fact of the matter is that Connecticut commuters who rely on Metro-North as a means of transportation to and from work are essentially held hostage by the railroad given the lack of viable alternatives. Let’s be honest: when Metro-North is operating safely, effectively and efficiently, it’s an acceptable service. Can it be better? Absolutely, as report after report has shown and as any commuter will quickly attest. And that’s where our focus needs to be – on improving the safety, quality and efficiency of the railroad’s operations so that it becomes an even more attractive and eco-friendly means of transportation to fuel our state and regional economy, now and into the future.

“That is what led me to introduce SB 480 during the 2015 legislative session. The bill, which was the subject of a public hearing in February but unfortunately did not make it out of the Transportation Committee, would have put the operations of the Metro-North New Haven Line contract out to bid. [Read Sen. Hwang’s testimony in support of the bill.] As I said then, I am not looking to demonize Metro-North; I am looking to represent my constituents and their concerns, by demanding more accountability and better conditions for commuters on the busiest passenger rail line in the country. After all, our state is paying more than $70 million a year to Metro-North to run trains on Connecticut-owned tracks with no power to punish poor performance. That makes absolutely no sense.”