HARTFORD — Citing the mounting problems over the course of the last two years, legislators this week called on officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Metro-North Railroad to testify before the General Assembly.
“We’re here today because it is simply unacceptable what our state’s commuters have had to suffer through,” said state Sen. Joseph Crisco, Jr., who is among the legislators looking for officials to testify, in a press release. “A series of accidents and a breakdown in the functionality of Metro-North have thrown into question the safety and reliability of the railroad. It is the responsibility of our government to step in and aid Metro-North in whatever way necessary to improve safety and restore credibility to the railroad. Commuters are calling out to us for help, and as constituent servants it is our responsibility to make these concerns known.”
According to the press release, the legislators sent a letter outlining their requests and concerns to the MTA, federal and state transportation officials, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state’s Congressional delegation.
The letter asks MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast and Metro-North Railroad President Joseph Giuliettito to come before the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, proposes measurable goals for Metro-North to improve its credibility and asks for federal and state assistance in both aiding Metro-North in meeting these goals and securing necessary funding to support critical infrastructure improvements.
The release stated that nearly 40 million riders rely on the New Haven Line every year. Any disruption has an immediate ripple effect on business and jobs, the release stated, and equipment breakdowns have considerably slowed train traffic or brought it to a halt.
The legislators drew attention to a partial list of the serious accidents, fatalities, examples of poor management and lack of oversight, alleged fraud and criminal activity that speak to a breakdown in the management structure of Metro North, the release stated.
The legislators insisted that the situation must be addressed now to restore trust in Metro-North’s ability to run its operations. However, Connecticut has little to no leverage since it is locked into a 60-year contract with Metro-North, the release stated.
On Sunday, Malloy announced a $10 million plan to upgrade the electric infrastructure, which provides power to the New Haven Line. The legislators hailed this project as a major step in the right direction, but stressed that the state cannot solve all of Metro-North’s major problems alone.
They suggested that the federal government may wish to provide Metro-North with managerial and technical expertise to resolve the serious problems that they are experiencing.
The legislators also called attention to Metro-North’s aging infrastructure, and asked the state’s Congressional delegation and the U.S. and Connecticut Departments of Transportation to prioritize funding for repairs and maintenance on Metro-North, with particular attention to the New Haven Line, according to the release.