Demanding Answers: Filthy Seats Plague Metro-North New Haven Line Cars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Commuters are being asked to pay more to ride the Metro-North Railroad, but they are encountering gunk on the headrests, layers of filth on the seats, and an all-around dirty experience.

People who use the Metro-North New Haven Line want to know why they are paying hundreds of dollars to for a monthly ticket to ride on trains that are so unpleasant. CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer was demanding answers Thursday.

It started with a Facebook post from Westchester County commuter Stephanie Gomez. It displayed picture after picture of dirty, cringe-worthy seats on the New Haven Line.

“Metro-North – this is UNACCEPTABLE!” Gomez said in the Facebook post. “I will not pay for my ride today being that you expect people to sit in such filth!!!”

CBS2’s Kramer and her crew set out to see for themselves. After all, when you pay $279 to commute from Rye, New York, and $332 from Greenwich, Connecticut, the least you can expect is a clean seat.

It turned out Gomez was right – dirt was discovered on the front and the back of the seats.

“It’s sort of gross when you think about it,” one woman said on a train. “But like even just the railings at Grand Central are dirty.”

“I don’t like it,” another commuter said. “It sure wouldn’t be my choice.”

“It is what it is – it could be cleaner,” another said.

“Well, it’s not pleasant,” a fourth commuter said.

“I got my coat on – I take a shower,” the first woman added.

But should commuters have to make sure they have on enough clothing to protect them from dirty seats? Kramer demanded answers from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Kramer: “Governor, when you see these pictures of dirt-encrusted seats, what do you think? What goes through your mind?”

Cuomo: “It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting. You know me, and you know the level that I hold government performance to. And this is – it’s just disgusting.”

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said the seats in question are on 36 of the 441 cars on the Metro-North New Haven Line. They are older cars dating back to the 1970s.

But the governor, whose appointees run the MTA, admitted that there is a lot he is not pleased with when it comes to the Metro-North.

“The service has to be improved,” Cuomo said. “It is unacceptable that the service is not up to par. It is unacceptable that the trains aren’t as clean as they should be, and the tracks aren’t as clean as they should be, and the stations aren’t as clean as they should be.”

“They should be cleaned every night, and they should be cleaned every morning,” a commuter added.

After CBS2 demanded answers, the MTA said it would clean all 36 cars on Thursday night.

The MTA also said help is on the way in the form of 60 new cars for the New Haven Line – at a cost of more than $300 million.

The MTA said since the new train cars have to be designed and built, it will take “a couple of years” for them to arrive. But they will have Positive Train Control and other needed safety features.

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