Blumenthal Calls on Metro-North President to Start Immediately

By Jamie Ratliff
|  Sunday, Jan 26, 2014  |  Updated 11:23 PM EDT
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Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants Metro-North to change presidents immediately and to give a date as to when the transition will take place.

Jamie Ratliff, Jon Wardle

Sen. Richard Blumenthal wants Metro-North to change presidents immediately and to give a date as to when the transition will take place.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling on Metro-North to immediately change presidents and for the railroad to give a specific date as to when incoming president Joseph Giulietti will begin his work in Connecticut.

"They need a new president right away to take charge and implement a total house cleaning. Heads need to roll," Blumenthal said. "There has to be accountability."

Current president Howard Permut is expected to retire next Friday and will be replaced by Metro-North veteran Joseph Giulietti, who currently serves as Executive Director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA) Tri-Rail.

Blumenthal says Metro-North has been unable to give him an exact date as to when Giulietti will take over.

A Metro-North spokesperson told NBC Connecticut she didn't know when, specifically, the new president would begin and said to contact SFRTA for more information. We were unable to reach anyone who could help us.

Blumenthal said that, with the avalanche of recent problems at Metro-North, an unspecified time in February is not soon enough.

"There has to be accountability for this series of incidents and accidents that can't be a coincidence. It reflects lapses in leadership and a culture that is failing in safety and reliability," said Blumenthal.

For nearly two hours, service was disrupted during Thursday's evening rush when officials say technicians overlooked a disconnected wire.

It's only the tip of the iceberg. Between recent derailments, one of which was fatal, to an employee being hit and killed on the tracks, to power outages, Metro-North has experienced a host of problems over the past few months.

Blumenthal said new personnel, new practices and a change in culture are required to move the railroad in a positive direction.

It's uncertain just what positions will be on the chopping block.

When NBC Connecticut asked Blumenthal if he hoped the MTA chairman would resign as well, he said, "At this point, I want to begin with the president, change the president because he operates and runs the railroad, and we'll see going forward whether there need to be other changes as well."

Regarding Thursday's incident, the senator said riders deserve to be compensated by MTA for the inconveniences they experienced.

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