Metro-North Train Conductor Says 'I'm Sorry' -- 500 Times

Ever been on a train in the northeast? If so, you're probably reconciled to delays, mistakes, misinformation, and a lack of concern. But not on Michael Shaw's train. The 48-year-old Metro-North Railroad conductor takes his job seriously. So seriously that when he inadvertently told people on each of four platforms to wait for a roomy express train that never came, he felt terrible.

Shaw wanted to apologize, according to the New York Times. So he printed 500 copies of a page-long letter and left one on each seat of his train on Monday morning.
Train Conductor Writes 500 Apology Letters to Commuters

"I was like, 'Guys, just wait. Wait for the next train,'" Shaw told WVIT-TV in an interview. "'Trust me. It's coming right behind us, it's got eight cars. I saw them leaving. They're right behind us.' And then they're all like, 'OK, Mike. Have a good weekend. See you on Monday.'"

He thought he had just done the roughly 100 Connecticut passengers at each of the New Haven, West Haven, Milford, and Stratford platforms a favor. Why get packed into a train when you could ride with some room and only be a few minutes off your schedule? Only the train got cancelled without his knowing it. Another train didn't arrive for 30 minutes, enough to start playing havoc with people's plans.

"I felt like I actually lied to them because I told them the train was right behind us and then I found out later it was actually cancelled," Shaw told WVIT. "It was my fault for not finding out the proper information and getting it to them, so I felt responsible for doing that to them."

Over the weekend, he wrote a letter that, according to the Times, said in part:

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.

He then made 500 copies and left one on each seat. (At least one Twitter user posted a picture of a copy.) According to some interviews WVIT did with passengers, his gesture was appreciated and well received.

Well, maybe not universally. Apparently the train line didn't particularly like his action, according to part of a statement reported by the New York Times:

Conductor Mike Shaw is one of the many Metro-North Railroad employees who care deeply about our customers. His open letter expresses the same frustration that customers and employees alike feel about the railroad's recent challenges. While we share his concerns, we do not condone his methods of communicating them.

A spokesperson for the railroad told passengers to depend on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority website for the latest schedule information, not on a conductor.

According to the Times, Metro-North said that it didn't receive a single customer complaint about the letter. Otherwise, things have been rocky. The rail saw a collision and a derailment last year, leading to extra inspections that caused delays. In 2013, Metro-North allegedly had its worst on-time performance since 1990. According to WVIT, commuters have recently complained about crowded cars, and last month a problem left 200 Westport passengers waiting for two hours in 10-degree weather.

It turned out that there was also one more apology left for Shaw. On the Monday 6:52 a.m., he got on the public address system as the train approached Grand Central and apologized -- for a spelling mistake in his letter.

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