Letter: Fare increases not justified for Danbury branch line

To the Editors:

The following letter was sent to state Senator Toni Boucher and State Reps. Gail Lavielle and Tom O'Dea and is printed here at the author’s request.)

I once again read (with dread) that Metro-North intends to raise the cost of commuting. With over 25 years experience traveling from Cannondale and Wilton to New York, I qualify myself as an expert witness on assessing the value and quality of the service. I have also been highly critical of Metro-North, in fact invoking the office of Joe Lieberman in the ’90s to stage a formal inquiry of Metro-North's practices, with emphasis on the Danbury branch.

While I appreciate all your current efforts and acknowledge there has been some progress (minor at best) addressing the Danbury branch, the observations over time with ample data points conclude that customers of this branch are significantly disadvantaged in terms of scheduling, equipment, reliability, convenience, safety and on-time performance.

These key performance indicators (KPIs) are standards which can be measured and assessed against other Metro-North lines as well as comparative rail lines in different cities.

If you are truly serious about innovating positive change, my strong recommendation is trying a different approach — by documenting the KPIs of the Danbury branch against the other services — I believe you will have a strong case to discount any proposed fare increase for this branch.

I am also confident Metro-North surveys will also confirm customer attitudes and would encourage you to conduct your own survey (the tools are essentially cost-free) to directly measure your constituents/customers.

I am also including Jim Cameron on this note whose recent blog challenges you on determining appropriate funding options going forward.

However, the short-term solution, and I think your collective obligation, is to find a reprieve for your Danbury branch commuting constituents based on facts.

The Danbury branch has long been the joke of local commuting — it's time to stop laughing.

Thank you in advance for your help.
Jeffrey C. Boehme
Woods End Drive, Aug. 20