METRO-NORTH RAILROAD COMMUTER COUNCIL
MINUTES OF AUGUST 21, 2014
A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 p.m. on August 21, 2013, in the 9h floor conference room, MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City. The following members were present:
The following members were absent:
In addition, the following persons were present:
William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Richard Schulman -Concerned citizen
Barry Adler -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes
The agenda for the August 21, 2014 meeting was accepted by those present. As there was not a quorum present, the approval of the July 17, 2014 minutes was deferred.
The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.
A written copy of the Board report covering Metro-North’s recent operational performance is attached to these minutes.
The Council discussed the impending move to 2 Broadway. Bill Henderson said that the security arrangements at 2 Broadway are considerably different from those at 347 Madison Avenue, but that the MNRCC would meet in at the Metro-North offices in the Graybar Building when the 347 Madison facility is vacated. Randy Glucksman noted that the next PCAC meeting will be held on September 4 at 2 Broadway and Mr. Henderson confirmed that the meeting continues to be scheduled for 2 Broadway.
Mr. Henderson said that the PCAC has been told that it would be in the first group to move and are scheduled to move in late September, but that this is subject to change. He said that staff has been attending meetings on the move and that many questions remain unanswered. Staff will keep members informed as more information is available.
The members and guests discussed delays in the opening of large projects in the MTA system. It was noted that Metro-North has the advantage of controlling its own tracks, and both Barry Adler and Mr. Glucksman related accounts of severely delayed Amtrak trains. Mr. Glucksman said that he will be in touch with Amtrak and will demand a response about the reasons for the delays that he encountered. Richard Schulman noted that Amtrak is no longer guaranteeing some connections because of the lateness of certain routes. Mr. Adler noted that the railroads now need tracks that they have removed in prior years.
The members and guests expressed their appreciation to Jim Blair for his service to the Council and presented him with a resolution of appreciation for all that he has done for the MNRCC. Mr. Blair said that his time on the Council and representing the Council on the MTA Board has been satisfying, but that he feels that now the time is right to move on from these responsibilities.
Mr. Blair said that he would attend the September PCAC meeting. Mr. Glucksman asked the status of preparations for holding the meeting at 2 Broadway, as the Board room at 347 Madison Avenue is not available on that date. Mr. Henderson said that the plan is to hold the meeting in a conference room next door to the PCAC’s new office space and that staff is working with the MTA team coordinating the move of offices located in MTA’s Madison Avenue buildings to ensure that members and guests will have access.
Mr. Henderson said that he had received a call from David Buchwald informing him that the Assembly will hold a committee hearing on the needs of Metro-North Railroad in the upcoming capital program. Mr. Blair asked if Metro-North is getting more funding as a result of the events of the past year. Mr. Henderson said that although there will be some funding to address issues that have been identified, Metro-North’s problems over the past year are unlikely to lead to a large increase in spending. He said that positive train control installation will proceed, but that was required in any case by a congressional mandate.
Mr. Henderson said that he had spoken with Assemblyman Buchwald about the expansion of the White Plains train station and the construction of a third track on the Harlem Line. Barry Adler agreed that the White Plains station needs attention and that Metro-North should have a coordinated plan to address its needs and provide for additional tracks and replacement of the station. Mr. Blair said that the White Plains station has not been addressed because local officials have not pressed vigorously for action.
Mr. Glucksman noted that Metro-North has agreed to run an additional train to close a service gap in its West of Hudson schedule. Mr. Henderson said that unfortunately the addition will not be made until 2015. There was discussion about the lead time needed for the new service, and Mr. Henderson said that he believes that the long lead time for this service is due to the need to coordinate with NJ Transit rather than an attempt to save money by starting service later.
Jim Blair discussed his thoughts about ways that Neal Zuckerman can be effective as an MTA Board Member and ways that the Council can support him. He said that it is important for the Board member to raise issues at the table, and that by having comments from MNRCC members or staff in the public speaking session, this can be reinforced. Mr. Adler said that Metro-North’s fleet strategy is one area that needs to be addressed. Mr. Henderson said that Metro-North currently has a study underway to assess the feasibility of using bi-level cars in Metro-North service. He also noted that the Long Island Rail Road is the lead agency in the design of M9 multiple unit cars.
Mr. Blair discusses some of the issues that he sees in the future for Metro-North and the MNRCC. He discussed the changes that have taken place in the Railroad’s performance and the prospects for improvement in the future. Richard Schulman noted that he has seen a greater number of alerts announcing delays on Metro-North over the past year. The group discussed the fare structure on Metro-North and noted that the cost of off-peak trips may discourage some discretionary riders from using Metro-North. Mr. Henderson suggested that the MNRCC may want to coordinate with the LIRRCC on this issue, as it is an issue of concern to them as well.
Mr. Blair said that he felt he has had a good run with the Council and thanked the members for their support over the years. He said that he would continue to follow the MNRCC and events at Metro-North.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:40 pm.