The Connecticut DOT and Metro-North Service Agreement preserves an antiquated policy, barring city straphangers from accessing same service as their suburban counterparts

(New York, NY) — Today, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer called on the Connecticut State Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Metro-North to end an agreement that prohibits passengers in the Bronx from boarding certain trains heading into Grand Central Terminal.

For over a century, and under the auspices of various rail companies, trains running on the New Haven line have allowed suburban passengers commuting from Connecticut and Westchester to exit at only a single station in the Bronx (Fordham), while explicitly refusing to board any Bronx commuters for the last leg of the trip into Manhattan. Today’s announcement follows the release of Comptroller Stringer’s proposal to end the MTA’s two-tiered transit system for 1.4 million Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn residents who are forced to choose between the high costs of commuter rail or longer commutes on the subway and bus.

When New Haven trains stop at the Fordham Road station, Metro-North’s public address system announces that the stop is “discharge only.” This exclusionary practice is historically rooted in a contract between the long-defunct New York-New Haven and New York-Harlem rail companies that dates back to 1848, but has been effectively extended for decades, most recently through the CDOT and Metro-North’s Amended and Restated Service Agreement.

“Metro-North and the Connecticut DOT’s decision to uphold this exclusionary policy of bypassing and neglecting Bronx residents is abhorrent and irresponsible,” said Comptroller Stringer. “While New York City’s transit system is in crisis, the MTA and Connecticut DOT are barring Bronx communities from trains that connect them with their jobs, schools, and loved ones. Your zip code should never determine your quality of life – not in this city or anywhere else in America. If New York wants to lead this nation, we must bring our transit system into the 21st century on every front. End this policy now.”

A report and proposal released by the Comptroller’s office Tuesday detailed a plan that would dramatically expand transit access in 31 neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens with Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road stations. Of these 31 neighborhoods, 13 are located beyond the subway map and are critically in need of improved transit access and mobility. People of color account for 82 percent of the population in these neighborhoods and 41 percent are foreign born. Nearly 60 percent of the renters in these communities are “rent-burdened,” leaving them with little to spare for the steep commuter rail fares.

Circumstances in the Bronx, meanwhile, are particularly dramatic. In the eleven neighborhoods with a Metro-North station, the unemployment rate is 12 percent and 61 percent of residents are rent-burdened — further underscoring the need for more affordable transit and improved job access across the city.

Moving forward, the Comptroller calls on the MTA to charge a flat fare of $2.75 on all transit trips within the city — whether bus, subway, or commuter rail­ — and allow free transfers. He also demands more frequent commuter rail service within the five boroughs, improved bus connections to Metro-North and LIRR stops, and that all commuter rail stations be made ADA accessible.