FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — A conductor on Metro-North’s New Haven Line surprised passengers Monday morning by taping a typed letter of apology to each seat on his train regarding an incident that occurred last Friday.
In his letter, conductor Michael Shaw expressed frustration with railroad operations after he advised riders to wait for an express train— which he thought was right behind his train— that ended up being canceled.
“I am as sick of apologizing to you as you are of hearing it,” Shaw said in the letter. “My error was trusting Metro-North that the other crew that usually runs as the local train would run behind us as the express.”
Shaw and his crew usually operate as the 6:52 a.m. express train out of New Haven. On Friday, however, they were told to run as the 6:46 a.m. local train, something Shaw said has happened previously. When this happened in the past, Shaw said the 6:46 a.m. train would then run as the 6:52 express behind him.
Since his train usually runs as the express, it had only six cars instead of the 10 needed for the local train. Not having enough cars— and confident the other train was not far behind him— Shaw advised riders at the New Haven, West Haven, Milford and Stratford stops to wait on the platform for the express train, not knowing it wasn’t on its way. He didn’t find out until that afternoon that the express train had been canceled altogether.
“When I heard that news, I was shocked and furious, and I still am,” Shaw said in the letter. “One, that I was never told this information, and two, that I made a huge mistake in telling you, my/our passengers, to ‘trust me and wait for the express train behind us’ not knowing Metro-North had canceled it.”
Shaw closed his letter by saying “some of us still care.”
Ashleigh Smith put a photo of the letter out on Twitter and said. "Some people on #MetroNorth still care. @Shawdogs65 left commuters an AWESOME letter this AM."
"Very classy move, sir! Did you take any heat from management for your public apology? On behalf of riders, thank you!" Jim Cameron of Darien said via Twitter. Cameron, a longtime train commuter, is the founder of the new Commuter Action Group calling for improvements on Metro-North.
When reached for comment Monday afternoon, Metro-North spokeswoman Marjorie Anders said the railroad shares Shaw’s concerns but does not “condone” the way in which he communicated them.
“Conductor Mike Shaw is one of the many Metro-North Railroad employees who care deeply about our customers, and his open letter expresses the same frustration that customers and employees alike feel about the railroad’s recent challenges,” Anders said in an email.
“Mr. Shaw made assumptions about train service based on his long experience, but Metro-North operations managers can and do make changes based on the conditions they encounter,” she added.
Metro-North, Anders said, communicates schedule changes on its website, the Metro-North Train Time app, and through text messages, email alerts and social media posts— all of which customers are urged to follow.
To see a larger photo of Shaw's letter, click here.