Metro-North Pulls A “Fast” One

In over 20 years as a Metro-North commuter, alert “06880” reader Bob McGee thought he’d seen every conceivable commuting debacle.

Today, though, topped everything. Bob writes:

This morning I’m 5 minutes early for the 5:47 train from Westport to Grand Central. As I walk to the station I hear an announcement that the train will come in on the opposite tracks. The illuminated signs placed at intervals over the platforms reiterate this message.

No problem. I get my coffee, and walk to the opposite — the New Haven-bound — side.

The train is late. It’s always late. This isn’t Switzerland.

Eventually, in the distance I see a train headlight rounding the bend, headed toward us. But it can’t be our train. It’s on the other side. The side we were told not to wait for the train.

Wait! It’s slowing down! It’s going to pull into the station! Surely they’ll see dozens of people running on the other platform! Surely they’ll see that nobody is on the New York bound side to get on the train! Surely they’ll see!

They don’t.

In what must be the fastest station stop ever recorded in Metro-North history — rivaling an Indy 500 pit stop (did the doors actually open?!) — the train pulls away. Not one of the many passengers for the 5:47 out of Westport made it onto the train. Not. One.

But the illuminated signs that hang at intervals announce that there is “Good Service.” Must be. Says so right there.

In a follow-up email, Bob writes: “When told what happened, the conductors on the next train were incredulous.”

Bob finally made it to work.

Then he sent one final email:

I just tried calling Metro North to relate what happened this morning. After waiting for a few minutes on hold, a customer representative picked up. As I told her what happened — and I’m not angry about it — she cut me off and said, “please hold.”


She hung up on me.


Hey, Bob. Count your blessings.

She said “please.”

16 responses to “Metro-North Pulls A “Fast” One

  1. John McCarthy

    I was part of this. It was one of the funniest experiences I’ve had taking the train. No choice but to laugh at the absurdity.

  2. David J. Loffredo

    Half of Westport doesn’t go to work on Fridays anyways – part of the “work from home mythology I guess” – so the rest of us had a chuckle and got on the next train 15 minutes later.

  3. If you file a formal complaint with Metro North Ted Bowen Senior VP of Cust “lack of service” will reach out to you. Also, please copy Jim Cameron the Chairman of the Metro North Commuter Council for the New Haven Line and we will bring it up at our next meeting. His email is: You can also please post this story on our Facebook page as well.

  4. Dennis Jackson

    That’s gotta be a prank, like if someone changed a “construction” sign on the Post Road to say, “PLEASE DRIVE ON THE LEFT FROM HERE TO NORWALK”! Same result.

  5. It’s April 1 in July.

  6. Run like the Post Office (with billions in subsidies and still losing money everyday)

    Tell me one private sector buisness or company that operates like a government run one, and is able to stay in buisness? Tell me?!

    And if you made to work after getting up at 5am, taking an hour plus train, then cab, etc., you didn’t make yourself successful today, someone else did that!
    I guess it was Metro North (eventually).

  7. Been commuting to NYC regularly of late. MetroNorth is better than
    CL&P but that’s setting a very low standard. MetroNorth sets their own
    schedule and NEVER sticks to it! Air conditioning on trains is not too
    good either. Fares are outrageous. We need better, cheaper more
    reliable public transportation. MetroNorth is an embarrassment to the
    CT/NY area.

  8. Jamie Walsh

    I was with John McCarthy and actually was as amused about it as he was…Actually, no one seemed angry about it because Metro North has done an exceptional job of lowering our expectations.

  9. David J. Loffredo

    I can’t believe I’m going to do this but I think I will actually defend MNR.

    If you’re a full time commuter – a real full timer not a pretend full timer – then the service and the price is actually pretty reasonable.

    There are 260 work days in a year – so I’d say in my 460 round trips (excluding 30 days for vacations/holidays) – probably fewer than 20 (less than 5%) were more than a minute or two late. Sure there is the occasional cold/hot car – but that’s the State of CT’s fault for not bellying up to the bar with the funds to pay for their portion of the new fleet. They’re finally being rolled out – so the experience is improving.

    The monthly pass is $325 x 12 = $3900 annually. So for 230 actual days of work – that’s $16.96 a day. It costs $24/day to park across the street from my office, not to mention the tolls, gas, and wear on my car. And the added stress for having to actually pay attention while I commute instead of sitting (or occasionally standing) and watching the traffic on I-95.

    So I guess long story short – if you use the system every day every week then it’s actually a fairly decent service at a fairly decent fare. If you’re a part-timer or an occasional user, perhaps no so much.

    • Your fare represents only a part of the cost of your travel. You are subsidized by taxpayers.

      • Receiving Taxpayer Subsidies

        Are you just stating the facts or is this an another attack on government spending so common in or national dialogue of late? Don’t taxpayers subsidize the interstate highway system, roads, bridges, tunnels, and countless other aspects of our transportation system? We all benefit from each and every public transportation trip that is diverted from the roadways (pollution, wear and tear, less congested roadways, …) just as we benefit from roadways built using taxes. A “taxpayer subsidy” is defined as a benefit someone else receives and should be eliminated. How exactly do you benefit from taxpayer expenditures?

        Here is an interesting study about our perceptions regarding government benefits:

      • Your comment is a bit incoherent, The fact that the roads may be subsidized does not change the fact that Metro North is subsidized does it? We all do not benefit from each and every transportaioin trip. To claim otherwise is just foolishness.Those who use the transporation system benfiit more than those who do not but still must pay for the usage of those who do. If we ALL benefited then we ALL should pay the total cost of our own usage of the transporation system and no subsidies would be necessary. Subsidies are wealth transfers. There are no government benefits; everything the government gives away it must first take from someone.

  10. John Karrel

    Completely agree with prior DJL post.

  11. You should totally consult with the Metro North twitter account. The ace reps that have there will likely tell you you’re a liar and this whole event never happened. They’re that awesome.

  12. The New Haven line is by far the worst of the three Metro North lines … there’s no comparison at all. Since the other two only run in New York State, it makes you wonder about Connecticut’s role.

  13. We can compare notes about how each one of us adapts to dysfunctional MetroNorth, but I believe all would be in agreement that the state of public transportation in this state, in this country is deplorable and certainly not up to a first world standard. In fact, a number of developing world countries have better public transport than we do. This is part of our crumbling infrastructure dilemma and it makes me wonder how long it will be before we as a nation take the steps to address this woeful neglect, which now has significant adverse economic consequences. Oh, and how about JFK airport? The filthy, out of service bathrooms, the uncollected garbage festering in the summer heat outside the arrival halls? Welcome to the Big Apple, indeed. Are we not better than this?
    On NPR yesterday I heard a story about how, to save money, maintenance on airplanes of most American carriers (AA is the only exception cited, and the report said not for much longer) is out-sourced to places like El Salvador, beyond the inspection of the FAA. They may be doing a great job there, but what assurance do we have that they are?