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Wednesday, April 25 News

Letter: Rail delays cause workers to lose pay

Metro-North Railroad's chronic service delays are taking money from the pockets of hourly wage earners. Railroad management has told me Metro North is not liable for lost wages incurred due to train delays or non-arrivals. But hourly workers are penalized for the railroad's shortcomings.

Here is an excerpt from the railroad's website: "By national industry standard, a commuter train is considered On Time if it arrives at its final destination within 5 minutes and 59 seconds of its scheduled arrival time."

I know people who had been reprimanded by their supervisors for being a couple minutes tardy due to the late trains.

On nine days in January, I kept a log of scheduled departure times and actual departure times of trains from the Fairfield Metro station bound for New Haven's State Street station. I did not include Jan. 22, when there was a significant snowstorm.

Departures were an average 11 minutes late -- including a 13-minute delay on Jan. 17; 23 minutes on Jan. 23; 18 minutes on Jan. 24 and 27; and 15 minutes on Jan. 28.

The typical excuse for delays sounds like this: "The train is delayed due to congestion, caused by a previous incident." In the cold winter and hot summer, Metro North blames weather for malfunctioning equipment and power line failures. It makes you wonder where did all the subsidies financed by Connecticut tax payers and regular fare hikes go. And what would happen if the subsidies stop?

It would be nice to have more choices. Unfortunately, the only alternative to the chronically late Metro-North trains is to drive a car -- which some fed-up commuters have opted to do to keep their jobs. And it produces more air pollution.

I have a simple suggestion that would spare commuters to New Haven unpleasant conversations with their bosses and lost wages: make the first in the morning departure earlier; make the last return trip in the evening later.

There should be greater transparency in how Metro-North spends state subsidies, so taxpayers know exactly where every dollar of our hard-earned money goes.

Margarita Alperovich