Weekly News Roundup, 1/28

It has been brought to my attention that I’ve neglected to post news roundups for the past few weeks. Not too many spectacular things have occurred over the past few weeks, but here are a few of the noteworthy stories:

Metro-North Passenger Pledge

On our 12/31 news roundup, I mentioned the Metro-North passenger pledge, and how it was accepted by the Connecticut Commuter Council. Since that time, it has been officially “unveiled” by Metro-North. It has been quite the topic of conversation by numerous news outlets in both Connecticut and New York. Commentary has ranged from utterly pointless comments about “great American flag clip art” to what exactly this pledge really means to riders. The majority of everything in the pledge have been the goals of Metro-North for quite a while, though they are now just made available in writing.


Hey Gothamist, have you even been on a train recently? That “American flag clipart” sure looks familiar…

It seems that quite a few New Haven Line riders are unhappy with a particular line in the pledge:

Metro-North will use best efforts to schedule service to meet anticipated demand so as to provide a seat for every customer

They notice the “provide a seat for every customer” part, yet conveniently ignore the previously mentioned phrase of “best efforts.” On that particular point, Jim Cameron may have said one of the most logical things I’ve heard from him in a while:

“You only get a ride. They can’t promise a seat. That was a little too much to ask… [but] this is the bitter fruit of the neglect of that railroad by the Connecticut legislature in investment, going back decades.”

Cameron and the Connecticut Commuter Council pushed for the pledge to be put on trains, and Metro-North obliged. Trains last Thursday evening had a copy of the pledge left on every seat… and rather expectedly, were found crumpled on the floor of the train by the end of the evening, likely unread.

   
  
Thanks for the pledge… though it seems that most commuters don’t really care at all.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles Struggle With Fat Americans

Jim Cameron again lends his expert opinion on the subject of trains and fat Americans, in a story found on Gothamist a week or so ago. I find the following statement found in the article rather amusing:

Metro-North is attempting to trick fat passengers by making the middle seats look larger with a center seam instead of arm barriers, though they’re not actually making the seats bigger.

Of all the things one could blame Metro-North of doing to passengers, I doubt that tricking fat passengers about the size of seats is high on that list. Perhaps to anyone other than a conspiracy theorist, a more logical assumption might be where our new trains (as they were apparently referencing the M8’s of the New Haven Line) have been designed. Our first M8’s were delivered from the Kawasaki company in Japan – a country that has a significantly lower percentage of obese citizens than we do. Perhaps in future railcars this will be addressed, as it is a subject that has been influencing industries throughout our country – even tourism.

A harmonica-playing conductor…

The New Haven Line certainly has its share of interesting conductors… The following video has been making the rounds this week, and I couldn’t help but share. Certainly a conductor playing the harmonica is amusing, but it is the two guys dancing in the background that really makes the video.

Mother suing the MTA for son’s death by subway train

In the future, when people look back on us Americans, I have a feeling that they might find that the country’s pastime is not baseball, but filing lawsuits. And some are quite doozies – a drunk and high idiot convicted of manslaughter for killing three with his pickup truck has the audacity to sue the victim’s families for pain and suffering. And although there is no doubt that a Brooklyn mother is suffering and in pain after the death of her son, suing the MTA for it is just asinine.

A likely drunk Briant Rowe willingly climbed down onto the subway tracks and wandered through a tunnel, and was not surprisingly struck by a subway train. Though clearly his fault, Rowe’s mother is suing the MTA for fifty million dollars, claiming that it is the MTA’s fault for not suspending all service to search for the man, who was sighted on the tracks… though a slow-moving train did search for him for over a half an hour. Really, where is personal accountability in this whole story? Perhaps we should nominate this young man for a Darwin Award.


If we get our legs ripped off by a train, can we sue the MTA too?

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Weekly News Roundup, 1/8

A quick news roundup for the week…

Idiots park running SUV on railroad tracks

A stupid couple started off the new year right by leaving their SUV on the railroad tracks just west of Fairfield station. As expected, alcohol played a part in the driver’s complete lack of judgement.

Branchville’s Whistle Stop Bakery

The Connecticut Post had a nice little interview with Lolly Turner, the woman that converted the old, “beat-up” and “falling apart” Branchville station into a successful bakery.

“We’ve taken a piece of history and turned it into a viable business. I think it’s a wonderful thing we’ve done.”

Schumer seeks to restore commuter tax benefit

It is always good to know that Schumer actually fights for something worthwhile every now and again.

The MTA’s App Contest

Hopefully I am not the only one that finds a little bit of amusement in the fact that the MTA is holding an “app contest” for useful transit-related smartphone apps. You know, since back in the day the MTA claimed that train schedules were their own intellectual property, and sent their lawyers after app developers. But it is true – the MTA is holding a contest, and the New York Times had a nice article about it this week.

Commuters get discount at local grocery store

If you commute in the Brewster/Southeast area and need to pick up a few things on the way home, you should definitely check out DeCicco’s, as they offer a 5% discount for Metro-North riders with monthly passes. I believe it applies only to the store in Southeast, right up the road from the station.

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Weekly news roundup

While I was looped up on cold medicine today, I somehow came up with the idea that I should do a “news roundup” every week for the site. I’m a voracious reader – of both books and blogs. Many times I encounter articles that I think my readers would likely find interesting, but are not a big enough deal to warrant their own post. Many of the articles I do tweet about, but I also have a lot of readers that don’t have a presence on twitter. Plus, a few of the blogs I read do news roundups similar to this, and I’ve always thought it a cool idea – so I figured I’d try it out. Below you’ll find some of the more noteworthy things that have happened this week in terms of trains.


Rockefeller home Kykuit at the Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show [image credit]

Metro-North Bolsters Winter Arsenal

This week Metro-North has issued a press release regarding their strategies for dealing with the upcoming winter. Added to their “snow fighting arsenal” are “three new jet turbines to blow snow, two new cold-air snow blowing trucks and 150 modern switch heaters.”

MNRCC weighs in on recent MNR accomplishments

The Metro North Railroad Commuter Council has issued a statement regarding some of Metro-North’s recent accomplishments, including the restoration of service on the Port Jervis line, and the new Quiet Car program.

Apple store Grand Central opens

Friday marked the opening of the new Apple store in Grand Central. The MTA has posted a nice video tour of the new store that is definitely worth checking out.

Free coffee at new Metro-North station

The Whole Foods truck will be on hand at Metro-North’s newest station, Fairfield Metro, throughout the month. For commuters there will be free coffee from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. throughout December. Fairfield Metro just opened this past Monday, and if you missed it we toured the station on Tuesday.


6:40 train leaves Southeast station on Monday’s foggy morning

Abbe Raven is watching you on the train

The president of the A&E Network is a Harlem Line rider, and she likes observing passengers on the train. In an interview posted this week, Raven says the train is her “laboratory” and states “I get to see what people who are not in our industry are doing, what apps they’re using, how they’re using technology, what they’re watching on their devices.” [via trainjotting]

New art in Poughkeepsie

A mural by artist Nestor Madalengoitia titled “Welcome to the Hudson Valley” has been recently installed in Poughkeepsie station.

Holiday Train Show at the Botanical Garden

The Holiday Train show is in its 20th year, and the newest historical building to be modeled is the Rockefellers’ home Kykuit. All of the to-scale models in the show have been created using natural parts. Magnolia leaves, pine bark, eucalyptus leaves, plant stems, seed pods, and pistachio shells have all been used in the creation of Kykuit.

Best Animal Photos of 2011

Buzzfeed has come up with an awesome collection of animal photos from the year. Be sure to check out photo number 14, an adorably cute dog that has recovered after being hit by a train. (The Little Red Riding Cat at number 38 is also pretty awesome)

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