Jan 30, 2014
01:47 PMConnecticut Today
New Commuter Action Group Creates Portal for Metro-North Riders in 'Revolt'
“Metro-North commuters are in revolt.” That is the warning issued from Jim Cameron, former chairman of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council, longtime commuter and advocate for commuters throughout the region.
(For an indication of the ripples of that revolt, see the ctnewsjunkie.com published Monday afternoon at the new Haven Register. "Democratic and Republican lawmakers, who sit on the legislature’s Transportation Committee, expressed their frustration Monday with what seems to be countless problems with Metro-North Railroad," it begins.)
Cameron, who is also a columnist for Internet website WestportNow, this week publicly announced a new plan to give voice to the frustration and anger of commuters. He advocates using a barrage of social media to draw attention to outrageous problems and prompt long overdue change at Metro-North.
Cameron says his newly formed Commuter Action Group has already struck a remarkable chord with its instruction to encourage commuters to use Facebook, Twitter and email to express their frustration with worsening conditions on Metro-North.
“The response is amazing,” he said. “I am tapping into a wellspring of anger. There have been hundreds of Facebook likes and hits and the emails are pouring in. In 36 hours I’ve added 100 followers to my Twitter feed. It speaks to the frustration of commuters.”
In Stamford, Cameron issued a much publicized, “Commuter Manifesto” this week, with a list of demands which include what would seem to be the most fundamental requirements of train service: timely, clean, heated, air-conditioned trains with enough seats for passengers and courteous staff. In an interview with the Minuteman, Cameron said the response had been overwhelming.
Said Cameron, “I am trying a new approach than the one I used for 19 years on the Commuter Council. This approach, asking people to use social media and their smart phones, will empower them.”
The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred last week when back-to-back problems plagued commuters just trying to get home. On Wednesday, an evening train stopped dead on the tracks between Saugatuck and Greens Farms in Westport for two hours with no heat in single digit weather. Outraged passengers found out that problem was the result of a “human error.” On Thursday, passengers were stranded at Grand Central Station, and stations all along the New Haven line of Metro-North, with no trains running for two hours during the evening rush hour, another avoidable error.
The incidents drew fire from public officials immediately. A public outcry was made by Conn. Governor Dannel Malloy, US Senator Richard Blumenthal, US Representative Jim Himes, and every local politician who serves the area. Each blasted Metro-North, calling for immediate changes to what was called unacceptable service.