Duff visits Darien to update commuters about status of new M-8 cars
Published 3:20 pm, Thursday, April 14, 2011
The sun had barely crested the horizon but one local politician was already pounding the pavement to update commuters on Metro North's new M-8 rail cars.
Senator Bob Duff (D-25) paid an early morning visit to Noroton Heights Train Station to hand out a letter explaining the integration of the new M-8 cars and to field any questions or concerns from commuters.
"As much as what is sometimes written about the new cars, that information doesn't always permeate with people," Duff said. "People appreciate me coming here and giving them an update."
In a town like Darien where many people are up early to catch a train and arrive home late, Duff said it's important people have the information they need.
"In the past, people who don't have time to talk when they see me will call or email," Duff said. "It's a good means for communication."
One of the issues Duff had to contend with were questions about when the new cars would be available.
"People want to know what's going on and there were unrealistic expectations for when the new cars would be online," he said. "By being out here, I can at least give people realistic options."
Each year, Duff pays a visit to the five train stations within his district. In the past he fielded complaints from commuters who were angry Metro North was attempting to add a $1 surcharge to each trip. However, Duff a fair compromise was able to be reached by building in the $1 increase over a seven year period.
"I understand that we need to pay for the cars but there a right way and a wrong way to do that," Duff said.
Since beginning his circuit of the stations, Duff said he has heard a lot of positive feedback from commuters who had the opportunity to ride the new M-8 cars.
"People said they are a home run," he said.
However, after an exceptionally brutal winter which left nearly 40 percent of Metro North's cars out of commission,
Duff said there is still a certain degree of frustration.
"We ordered the cars five years ago but they should have been ordered 10 years ago." "The cars are well past their prime."
While Metro North struggled to keep their cars operational, Duff said he was meeting on a weekly basis with the commissioner to get updates on the situation.
"They were doing the best they could with the brutal conditions," Duff said. "They had people working 24/7 on those cars."
Although Metro North is responsible for the cars, Duff said some of the fault for the disrupted service was due to waiting too long to order new cars.
"It was no fault of the former governor but I think she wanted those cars online before she left office because that was an important component of her agenda," Duff said. "These new cars are complicated machines and require extensive testing before they can be put into service. We can't accept cars that aren't perfect because the state is on the hook to pay for them."
After his two hour stint in Darien Thursday morning, Duff will be heading to East Norwalk and Rowayton in the near future.