By Jim Cameron
I love getting feedback from you, my faithful readers. So I thought I’d share some recent comments.
Last week I wrote about the railroads’ history of naming their best trains and stations. One reader, CL, reminded me that Metro-North names its express train to Yankee stadium “The Yankee Clipper”, a nice homage to baseball great Joe DiMaggio.
Another reader, BW, wrote “In Ireland, all the inter-city trains have names; they are named after Ireland’s rivers”. That’s classy.
On my recent column about marijuana tourism, CW from Pawcatuck CT opined: “Please. Do better. I’m alllllllll for legal weed”. But “IT IS AGAINST FEDERAL LAW TO TRANSPORT MARIJUANA ACROSS STATE LINES! You should also write about who can NOT partake in “legal” marijuana. Like those of us with security clearances, (and) the police. But that’s your job, isn’t it?” I reminded CW that I am a columnist, not a reporter. I never imply my writing is a comprehensive gathering of all the facts. Rather, I’m offering opinions. I’m not trying to fully inform but more to get people thinking, questioning their assumptions.
By far the biggest response in recent months was to my column “Metro-North’s Hypocrisy Unmasked” in which I questioned the railroad’s taking hundreds of millions of dollars in aid from the federal government but its apparent refusal to enforce federal, and now its own, mask rules. Those CDC and TSA guidelines have since been lifted, but remain on the books of the MTA.
JN emailed me “ (I rode) from Grand central to Bridgeport and not once did the conductor ask 5 people to wear a mask. About 5-6 people in the afternoon didn’t wear a mask and the conductors just punched the tickets and goes on.”
Darien commuter AY noted, “I have counted about ten unmasked people boarding and riding on my Metro North car today from Darien to Grand Central. No announcements either! So frustrating.”
East Norwalk commuter DG noted, “I am not a regular commuter, partly due to this lax (mask) enforcement. I liked the article, and seem to recall that for over 2 years, this has been on going. I don’t think they have EVER enforced masking. The conductors just don’t want to get into battles. I’d appreciate it if you actually get any sort of response from MN – to publish what they say. I’m fully expecting some bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo Orwellian response: “The passenger’s safety is job number one, – but blah blah, and we can’t be everyone’s Nanny. So, deal with it.”
Heaven knows I’ve tried, DG. The railroad’s public postings keep emphasizing their mask rule, but our FOIA searches have turned up a dismal enforcement effort by MTA Police.
Westchester rider TF noted that Amtrak had no problem enforcing its mask rules (since lifted), concluding: “The only rational conclusion I can come to is that MNR is a failed service.”
What are your thoughts? Your comments (and story ideas) are always welcome by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@CTRailCommuters).
JIM CAMERON has lived in Darien for over 25 years. He serves on the Darien RTM and is Program Director of Darien TV79. He served 19 years on the CT Metro-North Rail Commuter Council, four as its Chairman. In 2014 he founded a new advocacy group, The Commuter Action Group which speaks on behalf of Metro-North riders. His newspaper column “Talking Transportation” archives can be found at http://talkingtransportation.blogspot.com/