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Meeting Minutes Nov 12, 2009

A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 PM on Thursday, November 12, 2009, in the 5th floor Board Room, MTA headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

• James Blair
• Richard Cataggio
• David Buchwald
• Rhonda Herman
• Gerard Kopera

The following members were absent:

• Francis T. Corcoran
• Douglas McKean

In addition, the following persons were present:

• William Henderson  -PCAC Executive Director
• Jan Wells   -PCAC Associate Director
• Ellyn Shannon   -PCAC Transportation Planner
• Karyl Berger   -Research Associate
• Randolph Hunt   -Concerned citizen
• Randy Glucksman   -Concerned citizen
Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the November 12, 2009 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the October 15, 2009 and August 20, 2009 meeting were approved.

Chair’s Report

The Chair’s Report is attached to these minutes.

Board Report

Jim Blair reported that ridership and revenue continue to decline.  Ridership on the East of Hudson lines fell by 7.7 percent in September.  He noted that nothing much is happening on the Capital Program front.  He said the holiday meeting schedule was presented to the Board.  Mr. Blair said the MNR Committee voted to amend their by-laws to explicitly require that the President provide the Board members with all material information pertinent to business before the Committee and related to the Committee’s responsibilities to monitor the Railroad.

Mr. Blair reported that Metro-North submitted few procurements for Board approval in November.  The most significant item was for software support services for the Railroad’s Network Management System.  He said that the Board members are talking about recent proposals to partially or totally exempt the outlying MTA counties from the payroll tax and to charge Connecticut more for New Haven Line service.

Randy Glucksman noted the payroll tax is extremely onerous on individuals and school districts.  He said that it will not be an easy process for the schools to get reimbursement for the taxes paid, as has been promised by the Governor.

In response to David Buchwald’s question as to why the M-8 car purchase has been so delayed, Mr. Blair said the cars are delayed about a year due to production problems in Japan and shipping time.  He noted that at least Metro-North is compensated for the delay in the form of liquidated damages.  Mr. Blair said he did not want to seem an apologist for the car manufacturer, but a delay of one year is not bad in the scheme of such a large order.

Ellyn Shannon suggested that West of Hudson riders could be mollified with regards to the payroll tax with a promise of increased service and direct capital dollars towards service enhancements.

Mr. Blair noted that the lack of service does not seem to be the main problem that West of Hudson residents have with the MTA.  The payroll tax seems to be the main reason for the strong opposition that is currently being felt.

The members discussed the current method by which standees on Metro-North trains are calculated.  Ms. Shannon gave a brief overview as to how the standee number is derived.

Jim Blair said that non commutation ridership was not down as much as overall ridership and that the Yankees’ post season games definitely helped maintain this number.  Mr. Buchwald noted the connections for trains to and from Yankee Stadium are only one to two minutes apart and the system worked well.

Old Business

Jan Wells passed around the final draft of the MNRCC brochure for the members’ approval.  The members approved the draft unanimously

The members discussed the Council’s outreach efforts.  They agreed that the Town of Mamaroneck will be approached as a venue for the first public presentation that the Council makes, and that following this they hope to make a presentation to incoming Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino following this first presentation.

New Business

Jan Wells and Randy Glucksman briefed the members on the MNR Inspection Train trip they rode in September.  They showed a Power Point presentation and displayed a map illustrating the route that the train took.  The reported they went by the two passing sidings that have been constructed on the Pascack Valley line.

The members agreed that 2nd track on the Port Jervis Line is a priority among potential West of Hudson improvements.

Mr. Glucksman said that north of the Harriman station lies the Moodna Viaduct which is over a mile in length and that there has been work done on this facility.

Mr. Kopera asked that if any members are interested in taking over the non voting seat on the MTA Board representing MNRCC they should contact him to express their interest.

The members took a moment to formally congratulate David Buchwald and Francis Corcoran on their recent victories in elections for public office.    Mr. Buchwald was elected to the White Plains Common Council, while Mr. Corcoran was reelected as a Bedford Town Councilman.


At 6:00 PM the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Karyl Berger
Research Associate