Lawmakers Blast Metro-North's Communication During Train Shutdown

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Taking the train in Fairfield County is getting a little more unpredictable after two incidents of stopped trains in one week.
Taking the train in Fairfield County is getting a little more unpredictable after two incidents of stopped trains in one week. Photo Credit: MTA Flickr

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – The thousands of frustrated people who were stuck at stations or on board trains for hours due to a signal problem Thursday night did not get the information they needed from Metro-North, legislators from Fairfield County said.

“Commuters have had enough. They can’t take any more, and they shouldn’t have to,” said state Rep. Gail Lavielle, R-Wilton.

Thursday's incident was the second time trains were stopped in Fairfield County this week. A train was stranded in Westport after a catenary line snapped due to the extremely cold weather on Wednesday. And Friday morning, trains were delayed again due to weather-related issues

The outage that had trains stopped Thursday at Grand Central Terminal and along the New Haven, Harlem and Hudson lines was being investigated, a Metro-North spokesman said Friday morning. 

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, spoke to MTA President Howard Permut and said via Twitter that the "cause was electrical work next to control center in GCT which shut down computer and cut power to signals on all lines." Metro-North did not offer more information Friday.  

“I think I have huge questions about what they’re calling a power outage and how in the world a power outage can happen,” said state Rep. Kim Fawcett, D-Fairfield. The issue for her was not just political but personal: Her husband was stuck on a train for four hours during Thursday night’s power outage. “The whole system is in disarray right now.”

Fixing the problem, she said, will have require transparent communication among the state legislature, commuters and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Fawcett said she and her husband spent a long time discussing what could be done to improve communication with commuters, including a better "boots on the ground" effort to gather information about each train.

“It’s very frustrating because many of us have been in conversations with Metro-North working to try and improve service and ask for better communication not only with the legislatures but with commuters,” said state Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk/Darien.

But getting information from the MTA has been a struggle for lawmakers, not just commuters.

“It’s not that difficult for them to send out timely information when they’re having an issue or at the very least have their conductors tell people what’s going on when the train stops,” said state Rep. Brenda Kupchick, R- Fairfield.

Putting information on the MTA website or using social networks would be one of the easiest ways to get more information out to people who need it, Kupchick said, especially when nearly everyone has a smartphone.

“The very least [the MTA] must do is vastly improve its communication with commuters right away. This is something that requires no additional resources, and it must start today,” Lavielle said. “There is no excuse for waiting.”

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Comments (17)

This is all due to the money for mass transit tech being spent on tax breaks for big oil by the filthy republicans

True Ken The republicans have been raiding the mass trainst improvemt fund for years. Once again the republicans have blood on thier hands.

These the same lawmakers who failed to inform their constituents that new laws were making a few million of them felons if they failed to register things by the first? The hypocrisy of politicians is disgusting. If people don't like MTA they shouldn't use it. Has nothing to do with our legislature & we shouldn't be subsidizing it anyway. They ignore the results of their actions but sure freak out if anybody else screws up.

I'm ready to start an alternative service in Fairfield county...quality buses that leave early enough to beat most traffic and cost 30% more than a monthly pass. This service will be luxury compared to the terrible service we receive today - think Hampton jitney for Fairfield. Any takers?

It will never work without government support. If the MTA did not have government support you would not be able to afford the price of a ticket.

HAHA True Ken...

Great idea Newyo4. Go for it!

NewYo I said the exact same thing last night. I would certainly be interested. I quit my job in the city in September because I was fed up with commuting. I think the issue would be parking capacity.

Hits the nail on the head,firefighters in Norwalk are if not the highest paid are one of the highest paid in the state why?

What does the salary of Norwalk firefighters have to do with MetroNorth?

To Himes and Duff too little too late.We all read the praise and accolades that has been passed out in regards to emergency response now we are suppose to be convinced these guys have any clue whats going on.Knee jerk reactions leave us all wondering what would they do to make things better?They would know if they were on those trains stuck once in a while.My money is on Kim and Gail they seem to be able to talk to far more easier than most politicians mentioned so far.

Let's talk about the impact of the Governor transferring millions of dollars from the transportation fund to the general fund every year!

Lets talk about the republican transferring millions of dollars from the transportation fund to big oil tax breaks.

Bear in mind Dave Amtrack uses the same line what did they do recently on the same tracks for Ct.?

One of the main problems is lawmakers like Kim and Brenda don't realize how Metro North works. Conductors do not have the information to provide passangers in the first place. Both of these lawmakers were in favor of building the new Fairfield Metro Center and wasting $ that should of gone to upgrading the aging rail system. These problems will continue with with high heat in the summer and bitter cold days like we are having now.

That is wrong Pequot,they in fact know the facts long before it goes out,this is why the MTA police is dospatched to stations for crowd control shortly after each problem is noted by dispatch.One thing that you don't want is the truth on board a train with over 200 angry people and two conductors I would think.

I think we have had enough of incompetent government latching onto commuter woes after the fact.

Fairfield County tax dollars are essential to the state but the thru highways, state roads and Metro North are all out of have been too busy funding salaries and pensions for government workers forgetting who really pays the bills.