Editorial: Speaking up

It is a foregone conclusion rail commuters have put up with a lot over the past year and longer, with very little recourse and a real sense that few have been listening to their complaints. That will change — a little — with a series of opportunities for riders to engage Metro-North’s senior management, including its new president, Joseph Giulietti.

The railroad has set up several opportunities on each rail line, beginning yesterday afternoon at Grand Central Terminal. The best chances for New Haven commuters will come Thursday, April 10, when Mr. Giulietti and other officials will be at the Stamford station from 5 to 7 p.m. Look for them across from the ticket office. They will be at Grand Central on Thursday, May 1, for the morning rush from 7 to 9.

Metro-North says this is part of its 100-Day Action Plan to improve safety, reliability and communications. This will be an opportunity — small as it is — for Wilton riders to express specific concerns. They should take full advantage of it.

One concern is the loss several months ago of through service from the branch line to Manhattan. This was the subject of a petition state Rep. Gail Lavielle (R-143) presented to state DOT Commissioner James Redeker and Mr. Giulietti last month. To his credit, Mr. Giulietti responded to Ms. Lavielle earlier this month. Through service was discontinued to enable Metro-North to offer reverse peak northbound service before 8 a.m. on the branch line. The resulting clamor has caused Metro-North to look at reinstating the 5:36 a.m. train to through status as part of a review of the entire New Haven line schedule, according to a letter Mr. Giulietti wrote to Ms. Lavielle on March 11. Also part of the review is the investigation of signal glitches that have been slowing trains on the branch line.

While this is not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination, at least it is a sign commuter concerns are not falling on deaf ears.

Ms. Lavielle also offered some good news for riders who use the Wilton station. Lighting in the parking lot has been inadequate for some time, but perhaps for not much longer. The state Department of Transportation began installing lights last year, but ceased with winter weather. The seemingly unending cold temperatures are delaying the project further still, but when it finally does warm up, the contractor will be able to begin excavation and paving. The target date for completion is now this June.