Metro-North Committee member outlines railroad’s capital needs for Putnam County

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CARMEL – Putnam County representative on the Metro-North Railroad Committee, Neal Zuckerman, is calling for a number of upgrades to the Hudson and Harlem lines as they run through the county.

The Garrison resident appeared before the county legislature’s Physical Services Committee last week and for over an hour discussed a myriad of issues and concerns related to safety, price, overall sustainability, service and related capital needs and needed improvements for the county’s stations on both the Hudson and Harlem lines.

Zuckerman: “best customers”

Zuckerman began his talk by making reference to the December 2013 over-speeding crash of a Hudson Line train near Spuyten Duyvil in the Bronx that claimed the life of James Lovell of Philipstown. Lovell was the husband of Putnam Legislator Nancy Montgomery.

Since that time, Zuckerman has been fighting for the implementation of Positive Train Control, which now has a federal deadline of December 31, 2020. Zuckerman said “safety is my number one priority on the board.”

While Putnam County riders pay some of the highest fares throughout the MTA region and according to Zuckerman, “should be considered the ‘best customers,’’ those who ride the rails get some of what he described as the “weakest service. Our stations are old and shabby. Train service is infrequent. Limited options exist for destinations into New York City. We are getting short-changed and those who pay the most should not get the least.”

Zuckerman outlined the county’s primary needs when it comes to railroad service.

First on the list was station upgrades since he maintained three of the county’s five stations are in need of work or assessment.

The Southeast, Brewster, Garrison and Cold Spring stations are in need of upgrades, he said.

Zuckerman also called on the MTA to electrify the Hudson Line due to its surge in popularity between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie. “Such remediation will provide a redundant capability given the unreliability of the locomotive fleet.”

He said the MTA to explore access to Penn Station. “Riders already on the Hudson River are not being given the option to go down the West Side of Manhattan. If Long Islanders can access Grand Central after an $11 billion investment in East Side access, a small investment through existing tracks should be worthy of exploration for Metro-North’s riders.”

Zuckerman described Putnam’s railroad commuters as a “small group in total number yet we reflect a group of ‘super users’ of MTA services. We are also the MTA’s best customers paying upwards of $7,500 a year for our commutation tickets, parking and MetroCards within New York City. Those who pay the most should not get the least.”

Legislator Montgomery noted “No one has been more critical of the MTA than me but you have changed my perspective of the railroad. What can we do to support your efforts?”

Zuckerman suggested sending a letter to the MTA Board and its chairman outlining the county’s concerns.