The Putnam Examiner

Schumer Stops By Putnam County to Slam MTA

We are part of The Trust Project

Stopping by Putnam County last week, United States Senator Chuck Schumer put the Metropolitan Transit Authority on notice in hopes of the authority meeting a deadline to install rail-safety technology meant to make train rides safer.

United States Senator Chuck Schumer was in Putnam County last week

During a press conference in front of the Brewster train station on Nov. 20, Schumer slammed the MTA for lagging to install Positive Train Control on all of its trains and towers with the deadline for complete installation roughly a year away. While the MTA has stated it’s working toward installing PTC on all trains, Schumer was more skeptical, calling the authority’s action “not good enough.”

Positive train control is meant to control the speed and movements of trains to make up for any human error.

Schumer stressed safety has to come first when commuters travel by rail line. He noted PTC has proven to save lives and if it were implemented four years, the Spuyten Duyvil train derailment in the Bronx, which killed four people, would not have occurred.

The deadline to complete the PTC installation is Dec. 31, 2018.

Schumer said the MTA is vital to Putnam because so many residents use the train to go to work in lower Westchester County or New York City. He said even when human error–whether a train engineer falls asleep or is distracted–PTC will slow and stop the train before something horrific happens.

Schumer said the federal government provided the MTA $1 billion to pay for the new updates so money isn’t an issue. He accused MTA of not making it a priority.

“PTC is not just technology,” Schumer said. “It’s a lifesaver.”

He warned if the MTA doesn’t meet its Dec. 31, 2018 deadline, action could be taken at the MTA. He called the Nov. 20 press conference a “shot across their bow.”

“They have done about half of the job,” he said. “When it comes to safety, half is not enough.”

Philipstown Councilwoman Nancy Montgomery, who lost her husband Jim Lovell at the Spuyten Duyvil crash, said federal officials have passed legislation and funding to make trains safer, and now it’s the MTA’s job to implement “this really important technology that will save lives.”

Sheriff-elect Robert Langley said it’s “inexcusable” that the MTA has failed to implement PTC.

“They’re telling all their passengers and the families of their passengers they don’t care,” Langley said. “The MTA needs to step up and care and implement the PTC now.”

The MTA, which is responsible for all trains going into New York City from Westchester and Putnam counties, said in a statement it expects to be in “compliance with all federal regulations.”

“In the meantime, the MTA has installed automatic speed enforcement at the Spuyten Duyvil curve and other curves throughout Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road,” the MTA said in a statement, obtained by The Journal News. “Like PTC, this system automatically slows and potentially stops a train in the event that the engineer fails to do so.”

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.