Rider confidence in Metro-North plummets



If truth in advertising were the watchword of the day, Metro-North Railroad’s recently released study of riders’ opinion’s of the commuter line’s recent performance would be called a customer-dissatisfaction survey.

Conducted in June but released only this month, the survey reveals that commuters’ satisfaction with Metro-North has plunged 20 points in just 12 months, to 73 percent.

As if to prepare readers for bad news, the study’s very first sentence (under the heading “Overall Context”) reads: “Metro-North’s 2014 Customer Satisfaction Survey was conducted in June 2014, following a period which saw several incidents occur on the railroad which adversely impacted perceptions of the safety pf railroad operations, and the railroad’s on-time performance record.”

In addition to the decline in overall satisfaction with Metro-North, the study acknowledged that on-time performance declined by 28 points to just 58 percent.

Moreover, New Haven Line riders were significantly less satisfied with Metro-North than their counterparts on the Hudson and Harlem lines. Their satisfaction with Metro-North plunged to 58 percent, 29 points below last year. Customer satisfaction west of the Hudson was stable over the same period.

“Metro-North customers were right to express deep dissatisfaction with levels of service after the particularly difficult year the railroad has had,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in a statement. “Our commuters have a right to expect a culture of safety and on-time performance levels of 95 percent or better. It is clear that Metro-North has a long way to go.  Recent positive indicators for reliability have not been sustained, and service is clearly unacceptable for New Haven Line customers.

Not exactly a vote of confidence for MTA Metro-North Commission Joe Giulietti, who arrived at the beginning of the year from Florida to considerable fanfare. He previously served as executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority.

“A 20-point drop in customer satisfaction with Metro-North performance is a lot more than a wakeup call for a railroad that has struggled for many months with very big issues and challenges,” said state transportation Commissioner James P. Redeker. “We have been working closely with President Joe Giulietti and his top leadership team to instill a safety culture in Metro-North, and we will redouble our efforts  to identify a remedial action plan for service reliability that our customers deserve.”

In a letter to Metro-North, Redeker directed the railroad to deliver a complete assessment of every cause for failed train performance and an action plan to bring on-time performance to a minimum of 95 percent. Redeker has asked that the assessment and plan be on his desk by December 1.