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Meeting Minutes Oct 15, 2009

A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 p.m. on October 15, 2009, in the 5th floor Board room, MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

• James Blair
• Rhonda Herman
• Gerard Kopera

The following members were absent:

• Richard Cataggio
• David Buchwald
• 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
• Carlos Vallejo  -Concerned Citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the October 5, 2009 meeting and the minutes of the August 20, 2009 meeting were not approved due to a lack of a quorum.

Board Report

Jim Blair reported that on-time-performance has been good but revenue and ridership are both down.  He said the standee problem on the New Haven line has improved.  He noted that operating revenue is lower than last year and the operating deficit is at $443 million.  Despite a budget that assumed reduced ridership, operating revenue is still below forecast.  Mr. Blair noted that East of Hudson ridership was 5.3 percent below forecast and is down 6.4 percent compared to last year.

Mr. Blair noted that the October Metro-North Committee agenda includes a report on the Railroad’s inventory.  He said the inventory fulfillment level stands at 97 percent of the requests, and at the same time inventory levels are down to $92 million from $104 million in 2007.  Mr. Blair indicated that there has now been enough history with the M-7 cars that they have been able to predict the necessary levels of inventory for the cars.  Mr. Blair briefly reviewed upcoming procurements for Metro-North, which include a $21.8 million item for fastening hardware that is shared with other MTA agencies and an item for construction of a track canopy for tracks 2 and 4 at Croton-Harmon.  Also in the procurements is an item to ratify expenditures for emergency repairs to a sinkhole at Middletown.

Mr. Blair reported that President Permut had an initial meeting with MTA Chairman Jay Walder.  In this meeting Mr. Walder’s message was that things at the Railroad may be going well but that Metro-North will have to do better.  Mr. Walder said that the case must be made for value being delivered to the taxpayers.  Mr. Blair said that he has asked whether the benefits study for West of Hudson territory and Dutchess County will be updated.

Rhonda Herman noted that the IRS has gotten questions from self employed persons about the new State payroll tax that provides funding for the MTA.

Mr. Blair said that Mr. Walder is looking for greater use of benchmarking by the MTA operating agencies

Old Business

Jan Wells spoke about the outreach materials that she had revised based on the members comments following the August meeting.  She asked that members get back to her with final comments on the materials by October 23.

Mr. Kopera suggested that these materials should be made a part of one of the Railroad’s seat drops and wondered if MNR would be willing to do this.

Mr. Kopera said he would like to give the presentation that is being developed to the Mamaroneck Town Council.

Mr. Kopera said he periodically talks to Josh Crandall, the founder of Clever Commute, who has lots of good ideas about how to expand services.  Mr. Kopera said that it would be great if we could get access to the Clever Commute member email list.  He suggested that the Council could do some kind of exchange so we could get the list for no cost.

Ms. Wells said she would send out electronic copies of the outreach materials to everyone so they could review them and make any additional comments.  The Council will officially approve the materials at the next meeting.

New Business

Ms. Wells briefed the members about the Tappan Zee Bridge Summit she attended in Rockland County.  At the November meeting, Ms. Wells and Randy Glucksman will give a presentation on the MNR Inspection train trip on West of Hudson lines that they were on in October.

Jim Blair noted that financing the Tappan Zee Bridge project is a daunting task and should be done by tolls, but Ms. Wells said that a toll of 15 dollars to cross the bridge will not even a make a in the cost of the full project.  Mr. Kopera said that the cost of the proposed bridge is great but there are other projects that have received substantial funding.

Ellyn Shannon reported that Doug McKean has expressed strong reservations about the proposed canopy at the Rye station.  He suggested that we ask MNR to come to a meeting to make a presentation about the Rye station.

Ms. Herman said homeless people are camping out in the seats upstairs at the White Plains station and this problem needs to be addressed.    Bill Henderson said staff would notify MTA police about this issue.


At 6:00 PM the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Karyl Berger
PCAC Research Associate