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Was Westchester/NYC adequately prepared TO DEAL WITH TUESDAYS TRAIN STATION SHUT DOWN?
Release Date: March 05, 2008


WAS THE COUNTY/METRO NORTH PREPARED AFTER METRO NORTH ANNOUNCED THAT
THERE WAS NO SERVICE IN AND OUT OF GRAND CENTRAL STATION ON Tuesday,
March 4th?
SHOULD THE COUNTY HAVE HAD A PLAN TO SEND MORE BUSES?
SHOULD BUSES HAVE HONORED METRO NORTH TICKETS?
SHOULD MORE E MAIL INFORMATION ALERTS HAVE BEEN SENT OUT?
WAS THE EMERGENCY PHONE SYSTEM ADEQUATE?
WHAT DO YOU THINK? IF YOU WERE A COMMUTER ON TUESDAY AND WOULD LIKE TO
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES...PLEASE POST THEM ON MY BLOG:
WWW.PFEINER.BLOGSPOT.COM OR E MAIL ME AT PFEINER@GREENBURGHNY.COM. I
WILL SHARE YOUR COMMENTS WITH METRO NORTH, THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE AND
OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN EMERGENCY PREPARATION.
Paul Feiner

THE FOLLOWING E MAIL WAS SENT TO ME BY LINDA GARFUNKEL, A COMMUTER FROM
TARRYTOWN
Paul, it is 8 PM, and I am lucky enough to be home. I have just heard
on WCBS radio that Grand Central Staition is chaotic, and that trains
are still running late.

I am on the e-mail list for Westchester County government and for Metro
North. Mid afternoon today, I recieved an e-mail from Metro North
saying that there was no service in and out of GCS. I figured that I
should find another way to get home. Since the BeeLine bus runs near my
office, I decided to look at their website. In doing so, I noticed that
one can only use coins or their commuter card to pay for the trip. I
figured that in an emergency situation like this, there would be
exception to the rule. So I tried callin the BeeLine bus service. It
took 15 minutes to get through. When I finally got through to a
"customer" service representative, she was quite nasty and told me that
I needed exact change and that I should go to a bank to get the change.
I went though my wallet, our petty cash plus all the people in my office
to try and come up with $5.00 worth of change. She told me that I could
not use my Metro North commuter pass, becasuse there was no cross
acceptance of those cards on the buses. Seems to me that when something
like this happens on LI, there are emergency buses set up to get people
from one place to another. No such thing exists in Westchester. I
called the County Executive's office, because I was unsatisfied with the
response by the customer service person at Bee Line. I left a message,
because nobody answered the phone in the County Executive's office. I
might add that there was no emergency number set up for people to call
to find out what the county was doing to help its residents who were
stuck in the city. At about 4:45 PM, I received a message from Metro
North alerting its riders that they could take NY transit trains for
free from Grand Central Station to various northern stops on three
subway lines that would bring us close to Metro North stops north of
125th Street (in the Bronx). Knowing how crowded those subway trains
would be and finally scraping up $5.00 worth of change, I was going to
take the Bee Line bus home. At about 4:50 or so, a friend of mine
called to tell me that the trains were running again. In all this time,
not one word via e-mail from Westchester County to offer assistance or
provide guidance. So I went to Grand Central Station. On my way, I
passed huge lines for the BeeLine bus at 54th Street and Madison.
Maybe, they did not get the word that the trains were running again!
When I got to the board at the northern entrance, there were only 3
platforms for 3 trains listed on that board. Everybody stood around
praying that there train would be on a platform soon! There was no
Metro North person there to advise people as to what was happening.
Finally, my train platform was posted, and I, like others ran to the
train, not knowing when it would leave. When we got to the train, we
waited a good 5 or 6 minutes for the doors to open. Then we waited
another 10 minutes for the train to leave. Since I had a nice comfy
seat, I was ok. The conductor announced that once we passed 125th
Street, the train would be speeding to Tarrytown. I knew something was
wrong with that, because of all the people who had been directed to take
subways! So at some point, the conductor announced that we had to stop
at Marble Hill to pick up the people who had taken the subway. It did
not take a rocket scientist to understand that. When the train stopped
at Marble Hill, and plenty of people got on the train, I asked one
person what happened on the platform there. He told me that 4 trains
passed Marble Hill w/o even stopping. Apparently, somebody forgot to
tell the conductors that they should stop for those people!! At
Tarrytown, there should have been police directing the overload of
traffic.

I lived through 9/11 and getting out of the city. I comandeered an
empty school bus on 101st Street and Madison Avenue during the power
outage a few years ago to take scores of us to Westchester. At that
time, I complained to the county that they had no plan for a disaster.
You would think that after all these years, that the county would be
prepared to send more buses, honor Metro North commuter tickets, add
police to spots where they should be needed, send out an e-mail
informing people what is being done, set up an emergency phone number
for people to call to dispense information. Unfortunately, none of this
was done, and there should be some accounting and some explanation.

Thanks.

Linda R. Garfunkel
Tarrytown, NY 10591
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