Metro-North Unveils ‘Way Ahead’ Plan

Yesterday, the MTA Metro-North Railroad announced a new initiative named “Way Ahead” which serves as a roadmap for the agency to enhance & upgrade many facets of the system. Here is more on the announcement via the press release the agency sent me:

MTA Metro-North Railroad today announced Way Ahead, a roadmap for the railroad’s future that details actions to enhance safety, service, infrastructure, communications, and transform customers’ day-to-day commuting experience. Way Ahead is a proactive response to Metro-North’s growing ridership, changing demographics and the evolving needs of customers.


Way Ahead lays the foundation for the continued growth and vitality of the railroad. Since Metro-North was formed in 1983, ridership has boomed from just over 41 million customers a year, primarily to and from “9-to-5” jobs in New York City, to an all-time high of 86.5 million customers in 2017. In addition to higher ridership numbers, with reverse commuting and customers taking trips at all hours of the day and night, the system is being used much differently than it was back in the early days of Metro-North.


At the same time as Metro-North’s customer expectations are evolving and our ridership patterns are changing, the ability of our aging infrastructure to adapt to those changes is increasingly strained. Some of the rail in Grand Central Terminal is more than one hundred years old. The Park Avenue Viaduct – which carries 98 percent of Metro-North’s customers – was constructed in 1893.  Way Ahead tackles ways to renew infrastructure so that Metro-North can meet our customers’ desire for better service.


At today’s Metro-North, nothing is more important than the safety and security of our customers and employees, and safety drives all Way Ahead actions. Since 2013, Metro-North has significantly upgraded its infrastructure, reinvigorated its cyclical track maintenance program, and bought new technology to help identify track defects. Metro-North invested heavily in its Safety Department and developed programs like confidential close call reporting and sleep apnea screening to foster a strong safety culture among our employees. Way Ahead builds upon this momentum with new safety initiatives.


Through Way Ahead, Metro-North will enhance the day-to-day experience of commuting for our customers, including making improvements to how the railroad communicates with its customers in every way possible –  social media, on the train, on platforms, and through other avenues, like the new Mymta app.  The railroad will more rigorously maintain its stations and platforms, making them cleaner, more inviting, and generally more pleasant to be on, improving the daily commute.


Way Ahead is our roadmap to continue to provide the best possible service to our customers,” said Catherine Rinaldi, Metro-North President.  “Its vision is clear, to set the standard for safety, reliability and innovation in the delivery of excellent customer service. Guided by our past experiences, we look forward to developing an even stronger Metro-North for the future.”


Highlights of Way Ahead:            


  • Expand TRACKS, Mero-North’s award-winning free community outreach program designed to educate and promote rail safety.
  • Enhance grade crossings. Metro-North will complete its upgrade of Grade Crossing Flashers to LEDs to provide better visibility and its aggressive Grade Crossing surface replacement program.
  • Improve emergency signs and lighting in the Park Avenue Tunnel and Grand Central Terminal’s track and platform areas.
  • Accelerate the installation of security cameras and Help Points at 10 priority stations.
  • Continue to improve and expand the safety training programs that Metro-North provides to its employees.

Customer Service

  • Improve the customer experience in Grand Central Terminal in the evenings and on weekends by creating new Grand Central Terminal customer advocates.
  • Revitalize Metro-North’s aging locomotive-hauled fleet by replacing seats and floors in more than 100 coaches.
  • Improve the track clean-up program and work with local governments and community groups to clean more areas around stations and along tracks.
  • Bring major station improvements to White Plains, Riverdale, Crestwood, Port Chester, and Harlem-125th Street.
  • Improve accessibility by installing new ADA elevators and ramps at key outlying stations.
  • Continue our industry-leading energy efficiency practices.


  • Bring new, real-time digital train information displays to Grand Central Terminal, including a new, state-of-the-art “Big Board” and new signs at each of the departure gates.
  • Add even more digital signs, on an expedited basis, throughout Grand Central Terminal.
  • Accelerate delivery of real-time train information to displays at an additional 21 stations.
  • Improve and upgrade the information given to train crews via their hand-held ticket machines, so crews are better able to communicate information to customers during service disruptions.
  • Replace the antiquated public-address system in Grand Central Terminal and at outlying stations with a new state-of-the-art system.
  • Improve cell coverage and connectivity along Metro-North tracks by working with cell carriers.
  • Install ADA-compliant signs on platforms in Grand Central Terminal and at North End Access locations.


  • Continue the aggressive progress toward completing the installation of Positive Train Control across the railroad’s territory.
  • Take delivery of 66 new M8 rail cars to accommodate increased ridership.
  • Begin replacing our locomotive fleet to improve service reliability in Metro-North’s diesel territory.
  • Double the budget for trimming and removing trees that can fall onto tracks.
  • Replace 1,200 power transmission poles on the Upper Harlem Line.
  • Complete a one-billion-dollar investment in the Harmon train car maintenance facility.
  • Continue aggressive improvements to the track infrastructure.
  • Complete the replacement of Metro-North’s overhead power system.
  • Complete work to fix and fortify the railroad’s power and communication infrastructure damaged by Superstorm Sandy
  • Replace deteriorated platforms with heated platforms for a safe and reliable ride.
  • Develop a SMARTRACK program, through which Metro-North will undertake critical infrastructure work by strategically shutting down continuous segments of track, giving multiple work groups uninterrupted access to maintain and improve the system.

For a look at the complete Way Ahead plan, please visit:

The plan looks good on paper but as is usual with the agency, the elephant in the room remains on how will these initiatives be funded? The agency struggles to get proper funding as it is to just maintain the system much less undertake such big plans. Hopefully the city & state will find a way to help properly fund the agency moving forward with sensible solutions that do not revolve around congestion pricing.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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LIRR Reopens Rebuilt Flushing Station

LIRR Flushing-Main Street

Earlier today, the MTA Long Island Rail Road held a ceremony to honor the opening of the rebuilt Flushing-Main Street station on the LIRR’s Port Washington line. Here is more about the reopening via the press release the agency sent me:

MTA Long Island Rail Road President Phil Eng today joined Queens elected officials, advocates and community members to open the newly rebuilt and reconfigured Flushing-Main Street station. The new station features two new elevators, one each to the eastbound and westbound platforms, a new street-level ticket office, and a prominent new set of entranceways connecting the platforms directly to the community hub of Flushing at Main Street. Construction on the project began in 2016 and cost $24.6 million.

“We are pleased to be able to make this station fully accessible to all our customers, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, thanks to the addition of two new elevators,” Eng said. “We are also pleased that our station will now be easier to reach from the heart of the Flushing community. We hope our improvements will transform a station that was inaccessible and mostly hidden from public view into an inviting and prominent community landmark. We are continuously working to make the LIRR accessible to all, and this is an important achievement in that campaign.”

Under the previous configuration of the station, which was completed in 1913 and renovated in 1958, the westbound platform was accessible only via a narrow stairway in an alley between buildings, around the corner from the main commercial hub of the region on Main Street. The eastbound platform led to Main Street but was narrow and, like the westbound platform, did not have an elevator.

A deteriorated one-story ticket office located at the eastbound entrance, which was not in conformity with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, was demolished as part of this project. The new station includes a new ticket office adjacent to the primary westbound entrance, an open plaza for future retail kiosks, new staircases, platform shelters, railings, LED lighting, new signage, USB charge ports, an upgraded public-address system with clearer audio quality, and yellow tactile platform edge strips.

More than 2,200 people use the Flushing-Main Street station on an average weekday, making the station the 50th busiest of the LIRR’s 124 stations, and the ninth busiest in Queens.

The project to renew the station earned the LIRR the Women in Transportation Service (WTS) 2018 annual Innovative Transportation Solutions Award, which recognized the vastly improved accessibility to the station as well as improved station environment and enhanced presence on Main Street.

More information about the station renewal project is available at, at this link:

U.S. Rep. Grace Meng said:
“Today is a great day for Flushing! In 2016, I stood here to unveil new platform railings and signs which were the first phase of this project. And today, I cannot be happier to celebrate the completion of the station’s overhaul. The rehabilitation of the Flushing-Main Street station is a project for which I’ve strongly advocated since it was first announced many years ago, back when I was a member of the New York State Assembly.

These long-awaited upgrades will finally modernize this facility and bring it into the 21st century. It will improve passenger safety, enhance the appearance of the station, and make it handicap accessible. The renovations will also help meet the needs of the growing population of Flushing and bring more visitors to the area. I thank LIRR President Phillip Eng and the many LIRR professionals I worked with to make this a reality. I thank them for investing in this important station, and I look forward to these improvements benefiting Flushing for many years to come.”

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said: “Today’s grand re-opening of the LIRR Flushing-Main Street Station is a major milestone for Flushing and for all of Queens. This critical transportation center is now accessible to everyone who travels to and from Flushing, a vibrant and fast-growing community that will benefit from the upgrade to a first-class, fully accessible rail station. The station’s new entryway will also enhance the traveling experience of LIRR riders and will be an attractive and welcome addition to the neighborhood.”

Senator Toby Stavisky said: “For the past fifteen years I have advocated for modernization of the Flushing Main Street LIRR station. We have urged upgrade for safer railings, ADA accessibility, improved signage and an elevator. Today we can celebrate the completion of this long-awaited project. Flushing Main Street is a major commercial hub and deserves a state-of-the-art transportation terminus.”

Assembly Member Ron Kim said: “The much-needed modernization and upgrading of the Flushing LIRR station represents a turning point for our community. Even in the midst of the MTA’s other pressing challenges, it is heartening to know that our community’s transportation infrastructure, and our commuters’ needs, have not been forgotten.

I thank all of the workers, staff, and directors at the MTA who made today possible, and look forward to working with them in the future to better meet the travel needs of all New Yorkers. I know that many residents of Flushing and Queens, including my own family, look forward to our first trip at this new station.”

Council Member Peter Koo said: “At long last, the downtown Flushing community is very excited to cut the ribbon on this new entrance to the Main Street LIRR. Coupled with our recently widened sidewalks and new street vending restrictions, this new entryway will give a contemporary face to one of our community’s most essential transportation options. Thank you to our community elected officials and advocates for pushing for these improvements over the years.”

From the pictures I saw, the rebuilt looks like it was a success. I will try & head out there in the very near future to snap some photos & share them with my readers. Perhaps it will help lead to the relaunching of Eye On Transit which featured the blog Through The Eyes On Transit which happens to be what lead to this very site being created 11 years ago!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Missing Kid Reunited With Mom

The worst nightmare of any parent is to lose their child while out traveling. Sometimes these stories do not have happy endings. Thankfully though this one does as 4 year old Messiah Cummings was reunited with his mother after getting separated from his mother at the Broadway Junction stop.

The mother of 4 departed the train at Broadway Junction and headed up the escalator when she noticed Messiah was missing. As he wondered the station, a man noticed he was crying & offered to help him. He ended up taking him to his job in the Lower East Side where a coworker spotted the child & called 911 who eventually helped reunite him with his mom.

The ending was a good one for Messiah which all of us can be happy about. However many questions remain unanswered including why did the man not notify an officer or transit official at the busy station instead of taking him all the way into Manhattan? It seems I am not alone in wondering about these actions as the cops ended up questioning him. John Annese of the New York Daily News has more:

A man who found a lost 4-year-old boy at a Brooklyn train station was grilled by detectives Tuesday after he took the youngster to his job in Lower Manhattan instead of bringing him to police.

Little Messiah Cummings was reunited with his mom about two hours after the two were separated, and the Manhattan Special Victims Unit questioned the man who found him.

In an interview at the 5th Precinct station house, Messiah told a CBS 2 reporter,“ I didn’t know which way to go and he found me… I miss my mommy, and he take me to his job and he just let me in a room and he come back and he take me down there and take me here,”

The man told police he took Messiah with him because he was late for work, but investigators doubt that story, cop sources said.

And he showed up as a suspect in a prior incident — a past sexual abuse case involving a child, possibly a relative, in the Bronx, sources said.

Manhattan Special Victims Unit investigators were questioning the man Tuesday night. Police do not believe he fondled or touched the boy inappropriately, sources said.

Police and prosecutors were still sorting out what happened, though it’s unclear if the man will face criminal charges in either Tuesday’s incident or the Bronx case.

Click here for the complete report.

I do not want to accuse the man of any wrong doing as no indications are that he did. However he definitely deserves to be questioned as he went about this situation completely wrong.

As I mentioned earlier, I frequently travel in & through this station & regardless of what time it is, one can easily find a police officer or transit employee who could have helped locate Messiah’s mother. I am with the cops and not exactly buying his excuse that he had to get to work and that is why he took him, especially considering his past. Hopefully all the answers will come out in the coming days.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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Comptroller Wants MTA To Lower NYC Fares

If you ride the MTA Long Island Rail Road or Metro North between stops within the 5 boroughs, you know how expensive the ride can be. Fares can go up to over $10 during rush hour.

However NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer wants to see those high prices come to an end as he is calling for the agency to lower the fares on both railroads for travel within the 5 boroughs to the base NYC Bus & Subway fare of $2.75. Rich Calder of the New York Daily News has more:

City Comptroller Scott Stringer called on the MTA on Tuesday to lower all LIRR and Metro-North fares for stops within the five boroughs to the base $2.75 price of a MetroCard.

Speaking outside the LIRR’s Murray Hill station in Queens, Stringer released a report that claims the shift would cut commute times in half for many passengers, relieve overcrowding on subways and buses and dramatically expand mass transit in 31 neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx for 1.4 million New Yorkers.

“There are commuter lines like this where people from Westchester and Long Island who use these trains to swiftly pass through our neighborhoods, and there’s what’s left over for working New Yorkers who can’t afford the price of these fast commuter trains,” Stringer said.

“They get the overcrowded subways that break down every day … and [trains] and buses that take twice as long to make the same exact trip to Manhattan … It’s not right and it’s not fair.”

Rush-hour LIRR tickets now cost as much as $10.25 for trips within the five boroughs. In June, the LIRR lowered the price for commuters leaving from Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal to nine city stations during rush hour to $5.

Stringer said the average LIRR train has 233 empty seats during the morning rush and 282 during peak evening hours.

MTA Chairman Joe Lhota issued a statement saying he plans to review Stringer’s report but that the agency already disagrees with his “assertions about excess capacity.”

“The MTA is not a financially self-sustaining organization and for the recommendations of the City Comptroller to be implemented, a subsidy is required,” he said. “It is fiscally irresponsible to make a transit benefit recommendation without identifying a source of funding — especially given the MTA’s massive financial needs.”

Click here for the complete report.

I am all for lowering the fares for travel within NYC on the LIRR & Metro-North as they are incredibly expensive & overpriced. However I have to call into question the statistics spewed by the comptroller.

I highly doubt his numbers in terms of empty seats during the rush hour are accurate. I like thousands of other riders on the LIRR & Metro-North can attest to the sardine like conditions on a daily basis during the AM & PM rush hour commutes. Just stand in Grand Central, Jamaica or Penn Station and see how many 10+ car trains go by that have every single seat taken and still have a good number of riders forced to stand.

Chairman Lhota also accurately called out the comptroller for being a typical elected official with suggestions for anything & everything except on how to get more proper funding for the much maligned agency.

So will we see a reduced fare of $2.75 from the railroads for travel within the 5 boroughs? I highly doubt it……


xoxo Transit Blogger

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MTA Workers Claim Agency Risking Derailment

Some MTA workers are claiming that the agency is risking another possible NYC Subway derailment after spotting some loose rails strewn in the middle of tracks on the A Train & C Train between Manhattan & Brooklyn. Dan Rivoli of the New York Daily News has more:

The MTA apparently hasn’t learned its lesson after a 2017 subway derailment in Harlem injured more than 30 people and turned morning rush hour into hell on wheels.

Two track workers with 15 years’ work experience between them told the Daily News history could have repeated itself because loose rails strewn in the middle of A and C line tracks between Manhattan and Brooklyn were not secured in any way.

A piece of unsecured scrap rail was the culprit for the morning-rush-hour A train derailment near 125th St. on June 27, 2017.

MTA officials told The News the rails left on the A and C line tracks posed no safety risk because they were on shallower track beds with different layouts than in the Harlem crash, preventing the possibility of them angling upward obtrusively. A loose rail was secured after a News inquiry.

“Out of an abundance of caution we had crews immediately inspect the area, further secure the rails in question, and confirm there is no safety risk,” MTA spokesman Shams Tarek told The News in a statement.

Startled workers first spotted new loose rails while working a repair job during their overnight shift that began Oct. 3. They saw long pieces of welded rail and shorter scrap rails resting on joint bars in the middle of the tracks without anything holding them down between Fulton Center in lower Manhattan and High St. in Brooklyn Heights.

“The rails were all over the place, on the trough, on the side,” said one of the workers, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive work issues. “Some of them were pretty precarious.”

The unsecured rails were still there Friday when a Daily News reporter riding a C train chugging through the underwater tunnel into Brooklyn spotted them near the High St. station.

Click here for the complete report.

Even though the agency has said no safety risks were present, I am siding with the workers in finding these actions shocking & quite frankly upsetting. I don’t care if the risk was .0000000000001%, the MTA should have made sure those loose rails were either removed or completely secured. Such inaction is absolutely disgusting & reeks of incompetence. Get your act together before people potentially can get hurt!

xoxo Transit Blogger

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