Judge rules against conductors' effort to stop new Metro-North schedule

News Wire Digest second section for June 16: Report claims little evidence suggests transit spreads virus; Connecticut reaches agreement on making 1880s station accessible
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A Metro-North train arrives at New Haven's State Street station in August 2019. The union representing Metro-North conductors lost in court in a bid to force the commuter railroad to return to its pre-pandemic schedule.
TRAINS: David Lassen

More Tuesday morning rail news in brief:

Judge rules against conductors' effort to stop new Metro-North schedule

A federal judge has rejected an effort by the union for Metro-North Railroad conductors to delay the railroad’s new schedule, which took effect Monday. The Rockland/Westchester Journal News reports that U.S. District Court Judge Ronnie Abrams ruled late Saturday against the request from the Association of Commuter Rail Employees to stop the schedule change because it was insufficient to address crowding on Metro-North trains and put ACRE’s members at risk of contracting the coronavirus. Instead of the new schedule, which returns service to approximately 61% of pre-pandemic levels, the union wants a return to the full pre-COVID schedule. Union officials declined comment, while a Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman welcomed the ruling and said “ACRE’s continued misinformation campaign is nothing more than a distraction” from protecting the health of employees and passengers. The MTA has previously said the effort is primarily about generating more pay for union members [see “Metro-North conductors sue, claiming health risk from crowded trains,” News Wire Digest, June 12, 2020].

Article: Little evidence to support belief transit spreads virus
An article in the magazine The Atlantic claims that there is little evidence to support the theory that public transit has played a role in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, despite widespread concerns and a much-publicized April report from an MIT economics professor that New York’s subway system was a major and perhaps the primary vehicle for spreading the disease. The Atlantic article points to studies in Paris and Austria that found no infection clusters linked to transit, as well as the experiences of cities like Hong Kong, which had relatively minor COVID-19 outbreaks, despite relying heavily on transit before the pandemic and continuing to use it more than many other locations.

Connecticut will make New London station ADA compliant
The Connecticut Department of Transportation will ensure the railroad station in New London, Conn., is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act as part of a settlement with the U.S. Attorney’s office. The Connecticut Post reports the settlement, announced by John H. Durham, U.S. attorney for Connecticut, requires the station to have at least one accessible entrance, accessible ramps, toilets, platforms, and routes to the station that are ADA compliant. The New London station, opened in 1887, is served by Amtrak’s Acela and Northeast Regional, and by Shore Line East commuter trains.

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