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MNRCC Testimony – March 4, 2010 – Service Reductions

Testimony of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council
Before the MTA Board on Proposals for
Reductions in Service and Administrative Changes
Holiday Inn-Suffern, Suffern, NY

March 4, 2010

Good Evening.  My name is Randy Glucksman. I am a member of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council (MNRCC), the legislatively mandated representative of Metro-North Railroad riders.  Over the past 25 years Metro-North has come a long way, and, until the recent economic downturn, the Railroad’s West of Hudson services had begun to gain some traction.  Our members are alarmed at the substantial proposed reductions in service west of the Hudson and believe that these proposals are a serious threat to the future of Metro-North service in the West of Hudson portion of its territory and the economy and quality of life of the region and State.

The MNRCC is particularly concerned with the disproportionate impact of these service reductions on the West of Hudson rider.  While the proposed discontinuation of four weekday trains does not appear to be a large reduction in service, as a proportion of the total service provided, it is substantial, accounting for over 5 percent of the Pascack Valley line schedule and almost 8 percent of the Port Jervis Line schedule.  This is a major blow to riders who are not currently provided the level of service available to their fellow riders east of the Hudson River but pay the same taxes to support Metro-North service.  This is to save a little less than $42,000 a month, which in MTA terms is the smallest of rounding errors.

For those whom might cross the Hudson for better service, these proposed reductions include the shortening of car consists on Metro-North East of Hudson trains.  With these reductions, the rider has the choice of a schedule providing even less service, or crossing the river to ride even more crowded trains.  For some riders, there is not a choice.  The proposal to eliminate the 4:56 a.m. train from Spring Valley makes it impossible for riders who begin work at 6:30 am in Lower Manhattan to reach their destination.  If these commuters wish to continue to ride Metro-North to work, they are now faced with the prospect of driving to connect with a Hudson line train.  Train service is an efficient, responsible way of moving commuters into New York City and we should be encouraging its growth rather than making it more difficult to use.

The MTA’s financial problems are clearly not a result of operating too much service.  The impact of $143 million in State funding cuts in the Governor’s Deficit Reduction Program and shortfalls of $229 million and $378 million in 2009 and 2010 tax receipts dwarf the savings that can be gained here.  While Metro-North management has sought to impact the least possible number of riders, there is a purpose and demand for each of the trains that is being eliminated.  We question what is being lost in making these cuts and whether the savings generated can justify the impact on riders and on the region.  We are asking this Board to critically examine this issue along with us.