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Meeting Minutes October 20, 2016


A meeting of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC) was convened at 4:30 PM on Tuesday, October 20, 2016, in the 10th floor Conference Room – Metro North Offices – Graybar Building – 420 Lexington Avenue, New York

The following members were present:

Randy Glucksman
Orrin Getz

The following members participated via telephone:

Richard Cataggio
Francis Corcoran
Rhonda Herman

The following members were absent:

Francena Amparo
Wilhelm Ronda

In addition, the following persons were present:

William Henderson -PCAC Executive Director
Bradley Brashears -PCAC Transportation Planner
Sam Goodman -Bronx Borough President’s Office
Richard Schulman -Concerned citizen
Benjamin Schaeffer -Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the October 20, 2016 meeting was approved. The minutes of the July 21, 2016 meeting were approved.

Chair’s Report

Randolph Glucksman delivered the Chair’s report; a written version was distributed to members prior to the meeting. He said that after the NJ Transit accident at Hoboken, it was the West of Hudson riders who lost out. Information on alternative service that had been arranged to replace Pascack Valley Line and Port Jervis Line service to Hoboken was not readily available to riders. He said that he had called Metro-North Customer Service looking for information after the accident, but received only a recording that assistance was available during regular business hours. Mr. Glucksman said that in light of the situation Metro-North should have provided extended customer service hours.

Mr. Glucksman asked whether staff had been able to obtain a copy of the West of Hudson operating agreement with NJ Transit. William Henderson responded that Metro-North had not yet provided it. He noted that in the past when a question had been raised about the content of the agreement, there had been resistance from Metro-North about providing the text of the agreement. The question asked was answered, but without providing a copy of the agreement.

Mr. Glucksman said that there is a continuing problem with trains serving the West of Hudson territory being regularly cancelled. The members discussed the practice of cancelling express trains and leaving riders to take the less efficient local trains. Orrin Getz commented that he suspects that NJ Transit’s Meadowlands Maintenance Facility is not getting enough production to adequately maintain cars so that full trainsets will be available for service.

Ellyn Shannon suggested that the Council write a letter to Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti prompting him to ask NJ Transit why they cannot produce enough equipment to run their scheduled service. Mr. Getz said that that Metro-North equipment is being used for Pascack Valley and Port Jervis service and the issue is not diversion of rolling stock to other uses. He suggested that the letter ask what corrective action is being taken to increase the number of cars available for service and how many trains are being cancelled on account of a lack of equipment. Mr. Glucksman said that the letter should address the poor service that was provided under modified weekend schedules operated after the Hoboken accident and that even the service that was provided was run with short consists, such as the three car trains that operated on the 5:23 pm Pascack Valley trip from Secaucus.

Mr. Getz said that the accident was not the only time that Hoboken has been out of service and that these service disruptions demand an improved contingency plan. It was noted that the possibility of storm related closures at Hoboken increase the need for better contingency planning. Ms. Shannon asked whether there is any rolling stock on order for Metro-North service. Mr. Getz said that there is not.

Mr. Getz commented the New Jersey’s newly approved motor fuel tax increase gives the state a reprieve on the emptying of its Transportation Trust Fund, but at the same time the deal decreases the sales tax revenue that provides resources to operate the system.

Sam Goodman joined the meeting and commented that he would love to be a part of the Council if selected to do so and that he rides the New Haven Line regularly. He said that he is a staff planner with the Bronx Borough President’s office and in this capacity he handles transportation matters, but the decision on a representative is for the Borough President to make. He noted that in a previous position we was Executive Director of the Westport Transit District and in this position developed innovations in connecting services for rail riders.

Old Business

William Henderson suggested that the Council send the Governor a letter asking him to sign Senate Bill 3458, which provides for the State to inspect all at-grade rail crossings. It was agreed to send the letter and that Mr. Henderson will provide Mr. Glucksman with a copy of the letter before transmitting it.

New Business

Richard Cataggio asked for a summary of events in the NJ Transit Hoboken accident.
Mr. Getz related to the Council the events that occurred leading to and after the train collision. Mr. Getz said that an unanswered question is what the other crew members did during the event. He said that the bumper blocks at the station did not have an anti-climb device, but the train brakes were working properly. Mr. Getz noted that NJ Transit had changed its operating rules to require the conductor to ride with engineer as trains come into the Hoboken terminal.

The Council discussed the Hoboken accident. Benjamin Schafer stated that bumper blocks are designed to stop rolling cars, rather than a train under power, and so it was not unusual that they did not stop the train in this case.


At 5:20 PM the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

William Henderson
Executive Director