Train riders did not hold back their feelings about Metro-North. They were invited to speak out during a special forum in Fairfield.
"If this were a restaurant quite frankly no one would eat there," said Spencer Brown, who takes Metro-North every day from Westport to Grand Central. "If this were an airline and you had a choice nobody would fly it... The bottom line here is that service on metro north is deplorable. And it's not something that's occurred over the last year."
Commuter after commuter vented Tuesday night to a panel including Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker and railroad officials. The Connecticut Transportation Lobby hosted the forum.
"We're not just commuters we're family people. We depend on that railroad to get us to our office in the morning," said Westport resident Thomas Orofino.
"I don't believe that you guys care enough. I don't because we shouldn't be telling you this for the first time," said Neal Edelson, also of Westport.
Commissioner Redeker acknowledged the tough times the railroad has gone through over the past seven months, including the 10 day power outage in September in the Bronx and the deadly derailment in December, also in the Bronx.
"It's important for me and metro north to be listening to customers," Redeker said. "There's a lot of frustration. Performance is nowhere where it needs to be.
Performance was among the litany of things that was nagging at customers. Overcrowding was another.
"Standing in an aisle for an hour or hour and 20 minutes to get to work you feel like you need a shave and a haircut by the time you get there," said Orsino.
"We're not customers. We're like animals half the time we're commuting," Edelson added.
On Tuesday the National Transportation Safety Board recommended improvements for the railroad that included inward and outward recorders on trains and speed limit signs at all locations where one isn't already there.