The Connecticut legislature's Transportation Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to learn more about the recent problems with Metro-North. The Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker addressed the Transportation Committee.
Transportation Committee member Jonathan Steinberg, a State Representative from Westport, told Redeker, "Thank you, Commissioner, for submitting to our version of shoot-the-messenger."
While committee members peppered Redeker with questions regarding the safety and reliability of Metro-North, they also vented about the recent series of incidents at Metro North, including a derailment earlier this month in New York that killed four people and injured dozens.
State Senator Andrew Maynard said, "Some of us may remember the Lily Tomlin character who was the operator. her refrain was, 'We don't care; we don't have to. We're the phone company.' I get much the same feeling about our predicament with a service provider that doesn't seem to have any pressure on them. That is what concerns me. There is no leverage. We really need that."
Commissioner Redeker answered questions about how Metro-North has improved safety on the rail line, the relationship between Metro-North and the state , and the coming potential exodus of retirement age rail workers at the DOT. Redeker often played both the role of impromptu spokesperson for Metro-North, while also sharing in the outrage and fear expressed by the committee.
"I'd step back a second," Redeker said, "and just say that while we've been through sort of a spate of problems at Metro-North, it is one of the best railroads in the country, by all measures. And they've got issues that they've gotta address."
The public hearing comes a day after Metro North issued a report to Governor Malloy on the recent safety, infrastructure, and technological changes the rail service has implemented since this year's derailments.