STAMFORD, Conn. -- New Metro-North President Joseph Giulietti wanted to hear the unvarnished truth from the people who ride the commuter trains, and he stopped by the Stamford train station Thursday evening to face the public.
At least one commuter said she was impressed with the new president after she spoke to him about her concerns. Brenna Stein, of Stamford, walked away impressed with Giulietti after questioning him.
“I think he is doing a very good job. It is certainly a very tough situation,” she said of running the beleaguered railroad.
Giulietti has been in the job for only a couple of months, replacing Howard Permut, who retired in January after a trying 12 months that included a Dec. 1 crash that killed four people on the Hudson Line. That followed a May crash on the New Haven Line that injured scores of passengers. Less than two weeks later in West Haven, a track foreman was struck and killed by a train after a trainee rail controller opened a section of track without proper clearance.
All the accidents and delays made Stein concerned for her safety.
“It never happened to me, but I was just scared,” she said of the incidents.
In a brief press conference in the ticketing area, Giulietti said he has heard favorable responses to his campaign to meet with commuters in person.
“I generally have found that the public receives it extremely well,” Giulietti said.
It wasn’t simply a public relations initiative on his part, he said. Instead, he said, his visits would be an ongoing commitment to listening to the riding public.
Giulietti said he knew the public was frustrated with the service, and he wanted to ensure riders that a new schedule was being developed with accurate times.
“I do stand behind the schedule that we are going to be putting out,” he said. The new schedule slated to come out May 11 will be more reliable and allow for track work.
He also heard concerns from some riders, including Candi Valeri from Bethel and Charlie Kestler, 72, form Shelton.
Valeri said she takes the train because it’s too frustrating to drive to her job in Stamford. But she said it has been increasingly frustrating for her to take the train.
“You stop for a minute, you go for a little ways. You stop. You go a little ways, you stop and that causes delays,” she said of the signal problems on the Danbury Branch that cause trains to stop at crossings.
Kestler made a plea for experienced crews to remain on the Waterbury Branch because they know how to keep those trains on schedule.
The session is one of six public sessions Metro-North is holding to hear what customers have to say about train service.
The first was held March 26 in Grand Central Terminal’s Main Concourse followed on April 3 in White Plains, N.Y.
The last three sessions are at: Grand Central’s Main Concourse on May 1; Croton-Harrison, N.Y., station on May 6; and the Harrison, N.Y., station on May 14.