January 14, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR METRO NORTH COUNCIL RAIL COMMUTER COUNCIL NOMINEE
By: Paul Frisman, Principal Analyst
METRO-NORTH NEW HAVEN RAIL COMMUTER COUNCIL (CGS § 13B-212B, 212C)
● Studies and investigates all aspects of the daily operation of the New Haven commuter railroad line.
● Monitors the rail line's performance and recommends changes to improve its efficiency and quality of service. The council may request, and receive from any department, agency, or political subdivision of the state any assistance and data it requests to properly carry out its duties.
● Annually makes findings and recommendations to the governor, transportation commissioner, Connecticut Public Transportation Commission, General Assembly, the New York Metro North Rail Commuter Council, and the Management Advisory Board and Office of the Inspector General of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York.
1. The state learned in December that the debut of the new M-8 rail cars has been delayed until this February because of software problems. Some council members expressed displeasure that the state Department of Transportation (DOT) failed to inform the council of the problems when they first arose. How could the council and DOT better share information?
2. The State Bond Commission decided against borrowing $81 million to buy 38 additional M-8 rail cars in December, despite concern that the price of the cars may soon increase. Do you agree with that decision? Why or why not?
3. Can the council play a greater part in trying to resolve some of the issues that appear to constrain the state's ability to expand service on Shore Line East? How do you think the interests of rail commuters and recreational marine traffic can best be accommodated?
4. When commuter service is operating on the New Haven Line, Shore Line East, and the New Haven-Hartford–Springfield corridor, what is the ideal scenario for integrating these services? Who should operate them? Are there alternatives not being considered at present that you think should be?
5. What types of transit-oriented development around existing and new rail stations do you think would have the greatest benefit for those currently riding the trains and for attracting new riders?
6. What are the issues that may be hampering the development of better service on the branch lines, in particular the Danbury and Waterbury branches?
7. How do you see the state's severe financial crisis affecting the rail commuter service picture? Do you believe it endangers current service levels?
8. Station parking issues continue as one of the most difficult problems for the New Haven Line and Shore Line East services and now the governor has created a task force, including the council, to confront these issues. What progress do you think has been made on solving station parking problems? What remains to be done?
9. According to the council's 2009 annual report, no issue consumed more of your time than that of poor communications between Metro North and its passengers. The council said that the rail line did “a dismal job” of informing riders of service disruptions. Do you know why that was the case, and if the situation has since improved? How could it be improved?
10. The annual report also noted that you were hearing increasing reports that conductors are not performing their duties properly. How can this be corrected?