The criticisms that commuters have voiced over the years are finally being heard. After months of negotiations, we finally have a customer service pledge. This pledge was a unified team effort by local officials, first responders, the CT Rail Commuter Council and the Department of Transportation to ensure a clean, comfortable and safe commute for all passengers.

DOT Commissioner James Redeker deserves credit for the level of attention he brought to this matter, often taking phone calls from commuters personally and always taking their point of view seriously. Most of all, this pledge is a credit to those passengers who expressed their frustration with the state of rail service in Connecticut by writing, emailing, calling or testifying at our public hearing in Westport.

One woman, who had experienced severe panic while seven months pregnant in a closed 105-degree stranded train, emailed her testimony to us just after she delivered her baby. From this strong feedback, I was able to develop a document that served as a template for our Commuter Council and the MTA. It evolved into a new customer service pledge from the MTA, not only in Connecticut, but on all its railways.

More Information

Fact box

After years of complaint fatigue, passengers should take solace in the renewed commitment by rail management -- that they will be treated as paying customers that deserve good service. Please read the complete current draft of the customer service pledge.

Pledge to Customers

Metro-North Railroad is dedicated to delivering safe and reliable transportation. Our highest priority is to ensure your safety and these rights are always subject to that paramount concern:

1. A safe, reliable ride -- Our top priority is to provide transportation that gets you to your destination safely, comfortably and on time.

2. Accurate and timely information -- We will provide accurate, timely and meaningful information on service conditions, including via email alerts, mta.info, news, and public address announcements on stations and onboard trains to keep you informed and allow you to plan your trip wherever you are.

3. Courteous employees -- Employees will be helpful and courteous at all times and will provide accurate and timely information to customers. Our goal is always to provide excellent service.

4. A clean environment -- We will maintain a clean environment for our customers and the communities we serve, including, on railcars, at stations and in station buildings we maintain. We will work to keep our property on and off the train clean and litter-free.

When service is disrupted, you can expect us to respond quickly and your safety will remain our No. 1 concern:

5. Alternative transportation -- We will make every effort to stop trains at stations and open the doors to allow riders to seek alternate transportation and will provide customers with information concerning alternate routes and means of transportation. If scheduled MNR service is not available, we will make every effort to provide customers with emergency bus service whenever possible.

6. Comfort -- If a significant incident occurs that prevents us from bringing a train to a station or that strands a train in a station for an indefinite amount of time, we will move immediately to assist affected riders. Emergency personnel will be dispatched to offer medical assistance and efforts will be made to provide water.

7. Weather emergency notification -- If it becomes necessary to temporarily suspend service when extreme weather is forecast, we will use all our communication means so you can "know before you go."

8. Severe service disruption procedures -- MNR customers will be given up-to-date information regarding service restoration, including estimates when service will resume.

This pledge will be posted on our web site and at our stations. If you are not satisfied with the level of service you have received from Metro-North, email us at mta.info and let us know.

Also, look for the "Q"

The "quiet car" initiative will begin Monday, Jan. 9, on trains on the New Haven Line main line and its branches. The pilot program doesn't allow cell phone conversations or loud talking in the train car.

New train schedules will be available during the week of Dec. 26 and will use a "Q" to designate quiet cars. The quiet car will be the last car for trains going to Grand Central Terminal and will be the first car for trains going to Connecticut.

As always contact my office with your comments and questions 1-800-842-1421 or SenatorBoucher@cga.ct.gov.

State Sen. Toni Boucher represents the 26th District, which includes New Canaan.