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Minutes: December 2006


(Established in 1985 under Connecticut Public Act 85-239, now Sections 13b-212b and

13b -212c of the Connecticut General Statutes)




Bridgeport Metro North Station

Bridgeport, CT


Present were:  Jeff Steele and Terri Cronin, Acting Co-Chairmen, Rodney Chabot, Jeffrey Maron, Steven DiSalvo, Members; Gene Colonese, CDOT; Edward Lydecker, Joe Kanell, and Jeff Watson, Metro North; Sue Prosi, SWRPA; Richard Stowe, member of the Public and Patrick Verel, Fairfield County Weekly.


The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm.


The Minutes of the meeting of November 17, 2006 were approved inclusive of the changes proposed by Rodney Chabot.


The next item of business was the October Operations Report. 

-        Mr. Colonese confirmed that the “CSR program will continue”. However, CDOT/MN may determine that is more cost effective to terminate the program for the remainder of the M2 fleet, and move instead to rehabing the M4’s and M6’s. If this change is made, there will continue to be work done on the more problematic equipment on the M2’s. Mr. Maron requested that future Monthly Reports provide a listing of MDBF data for M2’s broken down between those that had completed the CSR program and those that had not, so as to clearly understand the benefits of the current M2 CSR program.


-        Mr. Colonese will investigate if the SLE Annulments and Terminations includes or is in addition to, the listed bus substitutions



-        Mr. Colonese noted that the Monthly Report submitted to the Council had omitted the details on the 11/22/06 outage on SLE. A revised report will be submitted to the Council.


-        There was also a discussion on the impact that required bridge openings for barge traffic was having on rail schedules. The barge traffic is resulting from work being performed on vehicular bridges over the Hudson River in NYC requiring cranes that are secured to barges.





Mr. Colonese noted that a white paper on SLE service expansion (e.g. weekend service) was due to be delivered to the legislature by CDOT no later than 01/01/07.  Discussion of the white paper will be on the agenda for the Council’s January 2007 meeting.




A question was raised about reverse peak service on the branch line. Mr. Colonese noted that there had been such service several years ago but that it had been discontinued due to limited ridership. A study will shortly be underway for Phase 2 of the Danbury Branch program. The study is expected to start this spring and be completed in 18 to 24 months.




Mr. Chabot pointed out that the pay phone is missing at the Talmadge Hill station. Mr. Colonese will request the Station Governance group to replace it.  Mr. Stowe raised the issue of mid-day direct service from New Canaan to GCT. This issue was tabled for discussion at the January meeting.




On the day of this meeting, the Metro North Board met in NYC and agreed to study the issue of bar cars and liquor sales on LIRR and MN. Acting Co-Chairman Cronin inquired as to the potential impact on MN New Haven line riders. Mr. Colonese stated that “we have bar cars today and intend on building bar cars tomorrow”, reiterating that he does not foresee any impact of such study on MN riders in Connecticut.


At the Council’s November meeting a question was raised about conductors not collecting tickets when they failed to use seat checks and therefore were unable to tell whose ticket had not been collected. Discussion continued at this meeting and Acting Co-Chairman Cronin noted that she had filed a formal complaint. Others reported that intra-state riders did not have their tickets checks or fares collected on crowded morning trains.


Acting Co-Chairman Cronin noted that printed schedules for Fairfield and Southport contained an error. Mr. Watson will investigate and correct as required.


Mr. Chabot raised the issue of several lights being out under the canopy in Darien. Mr. Colonese said that fixtures were being replaced with more suitable equipment. A point was raised about potential light pollution from the improved lighting.


Mr. DiSalvo brought to CDOT’s attention the overflowing town trash receptacle in Milford. Mr. Colonese will investigate, but trash collection is a town responsibility in Milford. Mr. Maron reported on riders’ complaints that although separate receptacles were being used by riders at the Stamford Station for trash and recycling, the trash collector was co-mingling them and the benefits of recycling were being lost.


Mr. Colonese delivered to Mr. Steele the escalator direction chart promised by Mr. Richter at the November meeting.


Mr. Colonese reported that the New Haven railroad running repair shop will be in operation “shortly” as only a punch list of items remained to be completed. 




Mr. Colonese said that was no funding now in place for the garage replacement. Once funding was secured, it would take about five years to design a new garage, demolish and clear the old one and construct a new one in its place. He also noted in response to a question, that the new garage may be designed with additional decks. Many possibilities are being discussed, including the suggestion from Mr. Stowe that a developer purchase/lease the property from the State and develop it, including a public garage.


Mr. Colonese will report back to the Council on the number of people now on the wait list for monthly permits and how long that list will take to clear given current rates of attrition.


Mr. Colonese noted that repairs/maintenance on the current structure will continue while the new design is in process. That said, no patching of the roadbed has been done yet this season, as the State looks to resolve how best to execute the patching.




Mr. Watson provided the Council with an update on the repairs to the toilets at the east end of the lower concourse at GCT. The design process is complete and demolition and reconstruction will begin shortly and last through October 2007.


Mr. Watson has spoken to the MTA Police about reports of vagrants and “street people” loitering in the restrooms but had no update.




There was a discussion on the Cos Cob drawbridge and boaters rights to force it to be opened even when there is a material negative impact on the riders of the rail road through service delays.


In response to a question on the current state of the railroads collective bargaining negotiations with the unions, Mr. Colonese reminded attendees about the process, including the Presidential Emergency Board that has been convened and the required cooling off periods. If all efforts at reaching an agreement between the parties are unsuccessful, the earliest anticipated date that a work action can be initiated is August 2007.


Co-Vice Chairman Jeff Steele reiterated that the Council extends to Metro North and CDOT an open invitation for the Council to assist both organizations (i.e. being a sounding board for new initiatives, communicating with commuters, or providing input on any and all issues pertaining to trains, schedules, stations, customer service, etc).  He reinforced the Council’s view that our meetings/relationship are a two-way street, and while the Council often seeks information on issues, or raises riders concerns, we welcome the opportunity for MNRR and CDOT to seek our help as well.


The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.  The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. at SACIA, 1 Landmark Square, Stamford, CT.


Jeffrey Maron, on behalf of Bob Jelley