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Commuters Take Metro-North President To Task At Public Meeting

Metro-North Meeting

A commuter talks with Metro-North President Joseph Giuietti (right) about railroad service. (Credit: Holli Haerr/1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Fed up commuters on the Metro-North Railroad got a chance to give the railroad’s new president a piece of their minds Wednesday.

As WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported, it was almost as if Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti came into the lion’s den as he found himself surrounded by riders at Grand Central Terminal.

Earlier this month, a blistering Federal Railroad Administration report claimed that Metro-North has allowed its emphasis on trains’ on-time performance to “routinely” overshadow its safety operations.

But a lack of on-time performance was a major complaint at the Wednesday public meeting.

“Your job is also to run an efficient railroad,” one commuter said.

“And right now, I’m telling you the most important job I have right now is a safe railroad,” Giulietti countered.

Andrew Marra commutes from Hawthorne, and was not happy about his commute time.

“My scheduled commute time as increased 24 percent in the last year,” Marra told Giulietti.

“I’m not addressing what you want me to address because that, right now, I cannot address,” Giulietti said.

Another commuter said he has been riding Metro-North for 20 years and service has been excellent. He told 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr he was not overly worried about safety.

“It is a concern, but it should not be seen as overriding everything else,” he said.

Another rider, Matt Sky, said both timeliness and safety are concerns for him.

“You want to get there on time, but you want to make sure that trains don’t derail and anything dangerous happens,” he said.

Other riders spoke about reliability, cleanliness, and value.

Metro-North announced this week that it has put some new safety measures in place following the FRA report. The railroad has reportedly finished signaling upgrades that will automatically brake speeding trains at movable bridges and sharp curves.

Last week, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to install video cameras and audio recorders on most Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road trains.

The move is in response to safety recommendations put forward by the National Transportation Safety Board following a December derailment that killed four people in the Bronx, the MTA said.

Metro-North has acknowledged repeatedly that 2013 was its worst year in memory. A derailment in Bridgeport in May injured dozens of people and another in the Bronx on Dec. 1 left four people dead.

A power outage in September forced Metro-North to reduce service for nearly two weeks, infuriating passengers and forcing many to take to their cars on crowded Connecticut highways to avoid Metro-North.

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