Every week I bump into someone on the train or at a store who says… “Hey… You’re that train guy!”  Who knew that this job would come with such notoriety?  But while nobody seems to want my autograph, they all want to talk about their favorite transportation problem, usually in the form of a question.

Here are a few of my favorites, by category:

On our roads:

Why can’t they get disabled cars and trucks off the road quicker, avoiding back-ups?

Why don’t they raise the speed limit on the interstates to reflect the real speeds that people drive?

Why are the overhead lights on our interstates and parkways always burned out instead of illuminating the road for better nighttime safety?

Why can’t they keep truck inspection / weigh stations open 24 x 7?

Why are trucks allowed to “Jake brake,” downshifting noisily, without getting a ticket?

Why are gasoline prices on the interstates’ service areas always higher than on local roads?

Why do we have “zone pricing” for gasoline in Connecticut instead of letting competition determine the lowest price?

In our skies:

Why are airlines allowed to squeeze more people on planes, in tighter seats with no knee room?  Is that really safe?

Why do the airlines always lie to us about delays?

Why can’t families with screaming kids be seated in their own section, away from me?

Why does the car service to the airport cost more than my flight?

On Metro-North:

Why can’t we have heat in the winter and AC in the summer, instead of the other way around?

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

Why do the train conductors hide in their compartments?

Why doesn’t somebody enforce the Quiet Car rules?

Why can’t they bring back the bar cars?

Why do I have to stand all the way to New York at rush hour because there aren’t enough seats?

Why don’t they have carts selling coffee and donuts in the morning, run by Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks?

Why isn’t there a choice of first or business class seating on Metro-North?

Why don’t we have Wi-Fi?  Amtrak does!

Why can’t we get a rebate on our ticket price when trains are late or service is cancelled?

Why are fares on Metro-North the highest commuter fares in the U.S.?

Why is there an eight-year waiting list for parking permits at my station?  Why don’t they just build more parking?

Why do they charge a fee to get a refund on unused train tickets?  And why do tickets even expire?

Why isn’t there a map at each station showing how to get to local businesses and landmarks without taking a cab?

Why can’t lawmakers in Hartford be required to commute on Metro-North at rush hour before they vote on the CDOT budget or fare increases?

Why has CDOT taken more than three years to negotiate a contract to rebuild the Stamford parking garage, let alone start construction?

Why are station waiting rooms kept locked on nights and weekends in the winter?

Over the years I’ve found that these simple questions all have complex answers.  If the issues were so easily addressed, they’d have been solved long ago.

But what are your pet peeves?  What are the questions that you have about “getting there”?  Send them along and let’s see if I can’t help find the answers: CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com

Republished with permission of Hearst CT Media. Jim Cameron is founder of The Commuter Action Group, and a member of the Darien Representative Town Meeting.

Jim Cameron is founder of the Commuter Action Group and advocates for Connecticut rail riders. He writes a weekly column called "Talking Transportation" for CT Mirror and other publications in the state. Read past Talking Transportation columns here. Contact Jim at the Commuter Action Group.

Leave a comment