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Meeting Minutes Jan 17, 2013




A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 pm on January 17, 2013 in the 5th Floor Board Room at MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.

The following members were present:

James F. Blair                       Randy Glucksman

David Buchwald                  Neal Zuckerman

Via Phone:

Francis T. Corcoran

The following members were absent:

Richard Cataggio                 Rhonda Herman

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson              – PCAC Executive Director

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the January 17, 2013 meeting was approved as amended and the minutes of the October 18, 2012 meeting were approved.

Chair’s Report

The written Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.  Randy Glucksman gave the Chair’s Report.  He also stated that council should send letter thanking Schumer and reminding him of the need to renew Pre-Tax Transit benefits.

Board Report

The written Board Report is attached to these minutes.  Bill Henderson said that the Board report that had been distributed was an incomplete draft and that the corrected Board Report will be emailed to members.  Jim Blair said that other than the operating statistics, the main news from the Board at its last meeting was the approval of the fare increase.  He said that the riders’ representatives had consistently pointed out the high cost of tickets and the burden that this places on many families.

Mr. Blair said with regard to Chairman Lhota’s recent resignation he believes that any future MTA Board Chairman should commit to remaining in the job for at least three years.  He also noted that part of the plan to reduce the number of MTA Board meetings from 11 to 8 was the establishment of Chairman’s forums where riders would have the opportunity to interact directly with the Chairman and operating agency Presidents.  Mr. Blair said that the MNRCC may want to think about the degree to which the Chairman’s forums duplicate the MNRCC’s existing President’s Forums and to modify or replace the President’s Forums.

Mr. Blair stated that Wi-Fi service is being installed in Grand Central Terminal.  He said that he had asked Metro-North President Howard Permut to consider accelerating the roll out of on-board Wi-Fi service as well, as this is a frequent request heard from riders.   Mr. Blair also suggested that part of economic development upstate could be advanced by extending Metro North railroad service north of Poughkeepsie.

It was also reported at the Metro-North Committee meeting that 8 to 12 M8 cars are being released per month and that there is a total of 156 of them in service. Mr. Blair noted that there are still some nagging problems with these cars and that the arrangements for fixing them are under negotiation with Kawasaki.  Nevertheless, the problems seem to be fixable and Kawasaki is retrofitting the cars that had already been delivered.

Mr. Blair observed that the track numbering scheme at Croton-Harmon station is odd. Mr. Glucksman pointed out that the strange numbering is a result of the addition of tracks to the original tracks 1 and 2.  Mr. Blair said that the station needs more explicit indications of the track numbers and that the signage showing them should be larger.  It was agreed that the Council would communicate the need for these improvements in signage to Metro-North.

Old Business

The Council discussed its participation in the Grand Central Terminal Centennial celebration.  Karyl Berger has been the lead staff member working on the Council’s project to commemorate three historic stations.  Ms. Berger described the efforts to date in relation to the three stations that have been selected for the project, Pelham, Yonkers and Brewster.  Neal Zuckerman suggested that there be a specific time set aside in these events for the MNRCC members to receive rider comments on Metro-North service.  He suggested that there could be a “Share Your Views” time set aside in the schedule for the day.  Ms. Berger said that she would like Council members’ input on the project and invited them to contact her with comments.

Mr. Zuckerman commented that the bathroom situation on Hudson line trains is very bad.  He stated that he was shocked at the condition of the bathrooms on coaches.  Mr. Zuckerman said that he realizes that this is due to the riders who that are not treating the facilities well, but he observed that there are broken parts, missing bathroom paper and no soap.  He wanted to know whether the cleanliness standard has changed, or if use has overwhelmed the cleaning.  He observes this problem on evening trains.  Mr. Henderson said he would inquire whether there is a way to report particularly poor conditions and have them corrected prior to regular servicing.

Mr. Blair stated that he had been part of a meeting with the MTA Planning Department regarding the 20 year needs assessment. The document that was prepared for the last Capital Program has the appearance of a huge wish list.  There was discussion about the process of developing the needs assessment and changes that could be made.  Currently, the Planning Department is looking closely at changes in riding patterns.  He said that at the meeting Ellyn Shannon raised the point that the document needs real data to back up the needs that are expressed in it.

Mr. Blair said that in his memory the 20 year needs assessment was never presented to the MTA Board and said that he will ask for a formal presentation.  Mr. Blair also will ask that the needs assessment include a discussion of projects that were deemed to be unable to proceed for variety of reasons.

New Business

Mr. Henderson noted that with David Buchwald’s resignation from the Council and with Rhonda Herman’s resignation as Vice Chair, the Council needs to elect new leadership.  Mr. Glucksman said that in the past he was concerned that there is a conflict between his paid job and his volunteer job with the Council.  Due to changes in his workplace, he does not believe that the former perception of conflicts between these roles is currently an issue.

Mr. Zuckerman moved and Mr. Blair seconded that Mr. Glucksman be elected MNRCC Chair, and the motion was carried.  Mr. Blair moved that Mr. Zuckerman be elected Vice Chair, seconded by Mr. Glucksman, and the motion carried

Mr. Henderson stated that staff has been seeking new members and have touched base elected officials and persons who have been interested in membership to get some recommendations sent to the Governor..

Mr. Zuckerman said that the ability to attend the meetings in person is sometimes an issue for members.  Mr. Henderson replied that that staff include in reminders of the meeting that members can phone into the meeting.  While it is not an ideal means of participating, it is better than a member not being involved in the meeting.

Mr. Blair also stated that in June, it is the Council’s turn to recommend a member to chair the PCAC.  He said that the MNRCC needs to consider this at the next meeting.


The meeting was adjourned at 5:50 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson

Executive Director