A Better Metro-North
It's been a rough and frustrating year for Metro-North commuters. Aside from the derailment in Bridgeport and the power outage in September, the service has been slower and less reliable than usual. We heard many suggestions from our guests and listeners on how to make Metro-North better.
- When we asked for your suggestions on how to improve Metro-North, the most requested improvement was in regards to bicycles.Here is the existing bike policy:
- There are many restrictions about bike usage, including "Crew Discretion."Metro-North reserves the right to designate additional trains where bicycles will not be permitted. In addition, train crews may bar bicycles from trains if the bicycles cannot be carried because of conditions which interfere with the safety and comfort of other customers, including occasions of heavy ridership or equipment shortages. Consequently, the carriage of bicycles on a given train or for a continuous journey on connecting trains cannot be guaranteed.
- Our guests Jim O'Grady from WNYC and Jim Cameron from the CT Rail Commuter Rail Council (he has since resigned from the organization) say the biggest problem with transporting bicycles on Metro-North is space. There's hardly enough room for people, let alone bikes.
- The Citi Bike program in New York City does solve the "last-mile" problem though. Jim Cameron recommends riding your bike to the station, locking it up, taking the train into New York City, then using a Citi Bike.Here is an update on the Citi Bike program from WNYC's Kate Hinds:
- Aside from bicycles, some listeners suggested improvements for purchasing tickets.
- Joanne in Glastonbury said she wishes she could print tickets at home and asked if elevating the tracks would help alleviate any problems with the commuter rail line.
- Cameron agreed with her and said many other rail lines allow you to buy a ticket from your smartphone and you never have to print it out. "Metro-North has apparently been 'testing' this technology," said Cameron but like WiFi on trains, it "never comes to fruition."
- Speaking of WiFi...
- Republican State Rep. Gail Lavielle represents Wilton, Norwalk and Westport - all along Metro-North routes. Many of her constituents regularly use commuter rail so she has become a big advocate in the legislature for riders.
- "I thought that by introducing a bill maybe we'd get it going but we're still not there," she said, while acknowledging that legislation isn't necessary to make on-board WiFi a reality.
- If commuters want to use their mobile devices, they can always use a 3G/4G network but that will eat up their battery, which gets to our next listener suggestion.
- The newer M8 cars do have power outlets and if you've ridden one, you know how convenient that is to recharge your dying phone. But you don't always know in advance when you're going to board one of these "luxurious" cars.
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