Why can’t the trains, the highways and the planes…

Simple problems require simple solutions. And when it comes to solving our transportation woes, we consumers always wonder whey “they” can’t fix things quickly by doing what seems obvious and simple.

Take the following, for example:


On the rails

• Why can’t Metro-North make the bathrooms on the trains stink less?

• Why can’t we have heat in the winter and AC in the summer, instead of vice versa?

• Why can’t conductors announce each stop instead of hiding from passengers?

• Why can’t they collect all tickets on the trains?

• Why can’t the railroad treat us like valued customers instead of like cattle?

• Why can’t we have competition among private carriers on commuter rail?

• Why can’t they serve coffee and pastries in the bar cars in the morning?

• Why can’t we have WiFi on our trains like Amtrak’s Acela?

• Why can’t we get a rebate on our tickets when trains are late, service is cut or we can’t get a seat?

• Why can’t they build more parking at the stations to cut the five-year wait for permits?

• Why can’t I buy a 10-trip ticket that doesn’t expire in six months before I’ve used all the rides?

• Why can’t they put a map at every station showing the local businesses and how to get there without taking a cab?

• Why can’t Metro-North offer “quiet cars” like Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority do?

• Why can’t I buy a ticket on the train using a credit card?

• Why can’t Hartford lawmakers all be required to ride Metro-North at rush hour for a week to know what their constituents endure all year?

• Why can’t we do something about replacing the crumbling Stamford rail station garage instead of studying, talking and doing nothing for five years?

• Why can’t towns leave station waiting rooms open evenings and weekends, especially in cold weather?

• Why can’t they improve security on our trains instead of making us do their job with “If you see something, say something”?


On the highways

• Why can’t they get disabled vehicles off the road faster, avoiding back-ups?

• Why can’t town police direct traffic when back-ups on I-95 send cars pouring onto the Post Road?

• Why can’t they fix the overhead lights on I-95 so our highway is illuminated at night?

• Why can’t they ticket trucks for using “Jake Brakes,” down-shifting noisily?

• Why can’t they keep the truck-inspection stations open 24/7?

• Why can’t we get reasonably priced gas on highway service areas instead of having to get off the road and into local traffic?

• Why can’t they put tolls on I-95, priced by time of day, with proceeds being used to subsidize mass transit?

• Why can’t they jail people endangering others by talking on cell phones while driving?


In the air

• Why can’t they give us a human-sized seat with legroom at a fair price?

• Why can’t the FAA improve safety by making sure pilots and air traffic controllers are properly trained, rested and supervised?

• Why can’t they be honest with us about delays instead of always saying “it’ll be another 20 minutes” over the course of hours?

• Why can’t they seat families with screaming babies in their own section, away from me?

• Why can’t I take a car service to the airport for less than the cost of my flight?

• • •

What questions would you add to our “Why can’t they” list?

Send them to me and I’ll try to get the answers and share them in future columns.


Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 20 years. He is chairman of the Metro-North Commuter Council, a member of the Coastal Corridor Transportation Investment Area and the Darien Representative Town Meeting, but the opinions expressed here are his own. You can reach him at [email protected] or trainweb.org/ct.

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