Stringer Challenges Discharge-Only Stop


The practice of deturring passengers at the Fordham Road Station is rooted in a contract that dates back to 1848. (Kevin Stoltenborg/The Fordham Ram)

By: Erica Scalise

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has called on the Connecticut State Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Metro-North Railroad to end an agreement that prohibits passengers in the Bronx from boarding certain trains heading into Grand Central Terminal.

According to Stringer’s office, the Fordham Road station on the Metro-North’s New Haven line is designated as a “discharge only” stop, where Manhattan-bound commuters waiting at the station are turned away.

Stringer referred to this as an “exclusionary practice” in a press release dated on Oct. 19.

“Metro-North and the Connecticut DOT’s decision to uphold this exclusionary policy of bypassing and neglecting Bronx residents is abhorrent and irresponsible,” said Stringer. “While New York City’s transit system is in crisis, the MTA and Connecticut DOT are barring Bronx communities from trains that connect them with their jobs, schools, and loved ones.”

Stringer said the practice is rooted in a contract between the long-defunct New York-New Haven and New York-Harlem rail companies that dates back to 1848, but has been effectively extended for decades, most recently through the CDOT and Metro-North’s Amended and Restated Service Agreement.

Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the MTA, told “AM New York” that they are reviewing the agreement and will continue to discuss the arrangement with officials in Connecticut. He added that the railroad just completed a $15 million upgrade to the Fordham station, and continues to transport 1,900 people per day between Fordham and Manhattan via the Harlem line. The MTA failed to provide a comment to The Ram.

The upgrade, which was completed in 2016, included a reconstructed northbound platform, a new entrance leading directly to Webster Avenue and 193rd Street and new permanent artwork, according to the MTA. The complete restoration did not include changes that would alter the train stops Stringer is referring to.

Metro-North officials are also trying to work with Amtrak to bring four New Haven line stations to the borough, according to Donovan.
Stephanie Albert, FCRH ’20, said that when taking the Metro-North, she has wished several times that the Connecticut trains would stop at the Fordham station.

“I think it’s inconvenient that these trains appear on the Metro- North schedule, but we can’t get on them with an MTA ticket,” said Albert. “I just assumed it was faster to not let people on and keep moving, but there are times where the train actually stops and they don’t notify us that we can’t get on which is confusing.”

Griffin Maher, FCRH ’20, is also troubled by the practice and referred to it as completely screwed up.

“I have tried to get on the train and have been told to get off and it is super annoying when there are multiple empty cars and I still can’t get on,” said Maher. “It’s especially annoying when it’s the middle of winter and you are standing in the freezing cold.”

The Bronx is not the only borough where Stringer has allotted plans to improve transit issues. A proposal released by his office on Oct. 16th outlined plans to expand transit access in 31 neighborhoods in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens with Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road stations.

According to the Comptroller’s office, of these 31 neighborhoods, 13 are located beyond the subway map and are critically in need of improved transit access and mobility.

Stringer also called on the MTA to charge a flat fare of $2.75 on all transit trips within the city, whether bus, subway or commuter rail and to allow free transfers. His demands also include more frequent commuter rail service within the five boroughs, improved bus connections to Metro-North and LIRR stops, and that all commuter rail stations be made accessible to people with disabilities.

In a press release by the Comptroller, the Bronx was singled out for its high unemployment rate and need for affordable transit amongst reasons to include it as a New Haven line stop.

“Your zip code should never determine your quality of life – not in this city or anywhere else in America,” said Stringer. “If New York wants to lead this nation, we must bring our transit system into the 21st century on every front. End this policy now.”