A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 pm on April 15, 2010 in the 5th floor Board room, MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.
The following members were present:
• James F. Blair
• Rhonda Herman
• David Buchwald
• Randy Glucksman
• Neal Zuckerman
The following members were absent:
• Richard Cataggio
• Frances T. Corcoran
In addition, the following persons were present:
• William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
• Jan Wells -PCAC Associate Director
• Ellyn Shannon -PCAC Transportation Planner
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the April 15, 2010 meeting and the minutes of the February 18, 2010 meeting were approved.
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
Neal Zuckerman, the new member from Putnam County introduced himself. He said that he had not been receiving material through the MNRCC GoogleGroup. Bill Henderson said he would send Mr. Zuckerman another invitation to join the MNRCC GoogleGroup.
Jim Blair asked that the items raised at the President’s forum should be followed up on as quickly as possible and let participants know the answers to their questions.
Jim Blair reported that he attended a conference on Infrastructure at Iona College on April 8th. He said there were three sessions. He said Thomas DiNapoli spoke on behalf of Richard Ravitch, and also attending were Congressman Jerrold Nadler, MNR President Howard Permut, a representative from Citibank, acting New York State Transportation Commissioner Stanley Gee, and Connecticut Transportation Commissioner Joseph Marie.
Mr. Blair also reported that Andrew Albert, Ira Greenberg, and he met with Jay Walder to hear Mr. Walder’s long term plan for the MTA. Mr. Blair said that Mr. Walder’s response was that the MTA is doing everything they can before to July to minimize the budget gap, and then will look at options at that point. They will determine if the hole in the budget deficit is structural. The strategy the MTA will pursue will differ depending upon whether its funding shortage is a one time phenomenon or endemic. Mr. Blair said that they will use this determination in looking at the size and timing of fare increases going forward.
Mr. Blair reported that Mr. Walder also said he intends to reexamine the stability of the current subsidies the MTA receives and to try to be more realistic in the budget projections that are made. Mr. Blair said that Mr. Walder believes that service cuts will be avoided. Mr. Blair said that Mr. Walder was not willing to show his hand on congestion pricing, tolling currently free crossings into Manhattan, and the funding of school fares in this meeting.
The members asked whether there had been any indication of the final form of the Capital Program. Mr. Blair said that the provisions of the Capital Program as they impact Metro-North are still not certain, but that signal work on the upper Harlem line and improvements to the Harmon shops are vulnerable if the size of the Capital Program needs to be cut.
Mr. Blair announced that Robert Foran has been hired as the MTA’s new Chief Financial Officer. Mr. Foran had previously been with Bear Stearns. Mr. Blair also announced that the Board members have been offered inspection tours of the East Side Access project. He said that his scheduled date is April 22.
Mr. Blair said at the Board level there has been major flak received from Putnam County Executive Robert Bondi and Assembly Member Greg Ball. The recently enacted payroll mobility tax from which the MTA receives funding is likely at the base of their comments, but they have certainly drawn the attention of the Board. Mr. Zuckerman said that the comments that Mr. Ball had made about poor station conditions don’t hold water in terms of the stations at Garrison, Cold Spring and Breakdown Ridge. The members asked who owns the parking lot at Garrison. Mr. Henderson said that he would find out.
David Buchwald noted that there are more trains with reduced lengths since the new schedule came out. He said the trains originating in North White Plains have been cut from 8 to 6 cars and that the platform has become more crowded as there are fewer boarding locations. Mr. Buchwald reported that the front and rear cars of the train have become crowded and that the train crews on board have been announcing that customer complaints about the crowding can be filed with Metro-North Customer Service.
Rhonda Herman noted that the consist on the 5:19 a.m. train from White Plains has been reduced in size.
The members discussed the upcoming meeting with the Assembly’s Hudson Valley Republican conference. The members said that they did not want to appear partisan and did not want to be there merely for show. Some reservations were aired that all exchanges between the legislators and MNRCC members would be public and several members expressed a desire to have some time with the legislators outside of the public session. Mr. Henderson said that he would relay these concerns and comments to Joe Candella, his contact with the Hudson Valley Minority Assembly Conference office, and report back to the members via email.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:00 pm.