Letter: Metro-North’s lack of communication and reliability in Darien is frustrating

The following letter was sent to MTA customer service and was copied to The Darien Times.

To the Editor:

Several weeks ago, I had two bad experiences with Metro North service out of Darien. My story illustrates the fact that Metro North continues to practice poor communication s with their ridership, despite expenditures in technology.

Tuesday, June 27:

5:30 p.m. – Decided to attend a concert in New York City  which began at 8 p.m. 

6:10 p.m.  -Arrived at Darien Station awaiting the 6:22 p.m express to Grand Central Station

6:25 p.m. – Heard loudspeaker announcement that the 6:22 train would not stop at Darien. (Nothing else!)

While  disappointed, I was not overly concerned since the next train, the 6:45, would still get me to New York City  in time for my concert.

6:37 p.m. – Heard loudspeaker announcement that the 6:45 train would not stop at Darien. (Nothing else!)

6:39 p.m. -Heard loudspeaker announcement that the 6:45 train was running 5 to 10 minutes late.

6:45 p.m.  – Heard loudspeaker announcement that the 6:45 train would not stop at Darien. (Nothing else!)

At this point, frustrated and disgusted, I left the station and headed,home as Metro North had ruined my evening since the next train, the 7:45 would not get me there in time for the show.

Thursday, June 29

My wife and I generally travel to New York City once a week. On this particular day, we arrived at the Darien Station planning to board the 12:16 to New York.

12: 13 p.m. –   Heard loudspeaker announcement that the 12:16 train would not stop at Darien.  (Nothing else!)

12:14 p.m. – Checked Train Time app on my !Phone and saw that New Haven Line was experiencing 60 to 90 minute delays and advising that we listen for announcements at our station.  There were no announcements at my station!

12:16 p.m. -Called Metro North Customer Service and spoke with a representative who advised driving to  a station on the Harlem Line which was unaffected by the New Haven Line overhead wire troubles.

12:18 p.m.  – My wife and I decided to avoid any further complications and instead drove to New York City  incurring unplanned expenses including gas, tolls and parking in New York amounting to more than $60.

As a former daily commuter, I understand that technical difficulties will occur (albeit somewhat too frequently on Metro North in my opinion). The major problem has been and remains extremely poor communications with the ridership . The announcements made at the Darien Station are almost always automated and usually of little value. They usually announce only that a train is running late or will not stop at my station . There are never suggestions of alternative actions that might be taken by the customer. For example, the following announcement or something similar would have been helpful during either of the two situations described above:

“Attention customers at Darien: We are experiencing lengthy delays. If your travel is of a time-sensitive nature, we suggest you find alternative means of transportation.”

Hopefully, this letter will result in an effort on the part of Metro North to improve their advisory communications and replace the automated announcements with specific human announcements as required . These announcements should contain useful information directed at minimizing customer inconvenience.

In summary, Metro North cannot solve their communications problems with technology alone. They must insure that all personnel in their employ understand that communicating with the ridership is second only to safety.

Harry Bergen

132 Raymond Street

Darien

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