FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is calling upon the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to bring legal action against Con Edison to recover losses from the Sept. 25 power outage in Mount Vernon, N.Y., that disrupted service on train service on Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line for 12 days.
During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing Monday in Bridgeport, New York-based Con Edison assumed full responsibility for the power failure that left an 8-mile stretch of the Metro-North New Haven Line without power. However, Con Edison President Craig Ivey said the company does not plan to reimburse Metro-North for the refunds it is giving to commuters. This promoted Malloy to write a letter to MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast, urging the MTA to undertake legal action against the power company.
The outage cost Metro-North about $8 million to $12 million in lost ticket sales, refunds and buses and other costs, said Howard Permut, president of MTA.
“Just as Con Edison compensated New York residents in 2006, when customers in Astoria and Long Island City were left without power for a week, Con Edison should accept responsibility for the costs imposed on commuters and on Connecticut taxpayers as a result of the recent failure,” Malloy wrote in his letter.
The power failure corresponds with upgrades that were being made to the catenary system in Mount Vernon. Of the two feeder lines powering the system, one was deliberately shut down for an extended period of time to be replaced. On the morning of Sept. 25, the remaining feeder failed.
As a result of the unexpected and unbudgeted costs of the incident, Malloy said recovered losses must include additional project costs, supplemental service costs, lost system revenue and fare credits to the customers who were affected.
The MTA, he said, has a responsibility to pursue legal action against Con Edison so the costs are not “shifted to Connecticut’s riders.”
Fairfield County state Sen. Toni Boucher, a ranking member of the General Assembly’s Transportation Committee, said Monday it’s unfortunate and frustrating that Con Edison does not want to “assume any monetary responsibility” for the power failure.
If Con Edison does not reimburse Metro-North the customer refunds, Boucher said commuters will pay the price.
“It will result in higher commuter fees and will come out of Connecticut's transportation budget. In the end, consumers will pay for Con Ed’s poor performance,” she said. “This money should not come out of the pockets of consumers. Instead, Con Ed should take responsibility by reimbursing those who have been affected.”
The 12-day train disruption costed the Connecticut economy an estimated $62 million, experts have said.