Metro North Makes Changes At Poughkeepsie

This past Friday the MTA issued a press release highlighting changes that will be made at the Poughkeepsie train station. The changes stem from the increase in ridership on Saturdays. Here is the press release courtesy of the MTA:

New customers by the thousands have been using Metro-North’s Poughkeepsie train station on Saturdays. In fact, the number of customers on Saturday mornings has exploded – from 1,150 in 2004, to more than 3,200 customers this past Saturday. And that’s just during the morning hours.

The greatest challenge in handling this wave of new Saturday customers is NOT the availability of train seats: There is seating for everyone. It’s that most of these customers are brand new to railroad travel and to the train station itself. Even reading schedules and purchasing tickets is a new experience for them.

To handle these very welcome new customers, starting this Saturday, the number of ticket sellers on Saturdays is tripling-from one to three. One of the three ticket sellers will stand outside the ticket booth, garbed in a Metro-North uniform, to give information, advice, answer questions and guide the thousands of first-time Metro-North travelers. This third ticket seller will be on duty at least through the holiday period.

In addition, Metro-North is in the process of installing a $100,000 visual information system, known as a VIS, so that customers can readily discern train departure times and platforms. In addition, these VISs will be flat screen LCD panels-crystal clear and easy to read. And they’ll prove helpful to daily commuters as well.

Metro-North’s popularity is growing for many reasons. The frequency of service has been increasing year by year and many trains are semi-expresses for a fast, reliable trip into Grand Central. There are currently 10 departures before noon each Saturday, including a seasonal “Shoppers’ Special” leaving at 9:18 a.m. There is free parking on weekends. Rising gasoline prices are tempting automobile drivers to try the train. In fact, many customers are driving down from Albany-Rensselaer and Columbia County to catch Metro-North for the rest of the trip to New York City.

I must say it is nice to see people make use of mass transit where it is available. I also commend Metro-North for keeping up with ridership patterns in determining the need for more employees. However I must ask is it necessary to spend $100 to install a VIS? I believe systems like that should be reserved for bigger stations where one could possibly get confused with so many tracks being available. The Poughkeepsie station is not that big that one could not figure out where to go if they can execute the basic action of reading.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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