Metro-North Touts Station Enhancement Program

Labor-management cooperation gets results at Bedford Hills and elsewhere as part of the railroad's new, interdepartmental effort to better maintain its stations on a regular schedule.

"Metro-North wants to be a good neighbor to the communities we serve," says Metro-North President Howard Permut. "We want to make sure our stations are an asset and a point of pride to all to use them."

The new approach required working with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 808, to improve productivity.

The newly created Paint Gangs report to work at the station they are to paint, which means that there is no loss of productivity because there is no travel time. The entire shift is spent painting.

Chris Silvera, Secretary Treasurer of IBT Local 808, said: "The results of the Paint Gang initiative are a testament that management and labor can come together and produce a positive result for all."

The Station Enhancement Program is a more holistic approach to station maintenance whereby everything that needs fixing gets fixed, starting with a fresh coat of Hunter Green paint.

While the intensity of each station project varies, all upgrade work includes: changing recycling bins if needed, replacing damaged protective film on windows that prevent scratches from ruining the glass, cleaning the station right-of-way (track), re-stenciling the ‘Watch the Gap' signs, repairing damaged edge board (the wooden strip between the platform and the train), replacing concrete benches with more comfortable wire ones, fixing shelter heaters, installing energy-efficient lighting, and power washing all station exterior surfaces, windows and overpasses.

The Paint Gangs are supplemented by sheet metal workers, plumbers, masons, carpenters, electricians and elevator mechanics -; just about every trade is involved in this team effort.

This year, in addition to Bedford Hills and Katonah, crews are working now at Chappaqua and Mount Kisco. In addition, lead abatement was completed this year at the station building at Peekskill, which then was repainted in its historic color scheme.

In addition, five stations in Connecticut: Wilton; Cannondale; East Norwalk; Rowayton; and Springdale; got the station enhancement treatment, including painting the shelters, replacing glass windows, and installing new recycling containers. Metro-North's partner, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CDOT), also painted most of these stations' exteriors.

Currently, Metro-North is identifying what needs to be done next spring, prioritizing the work that will eventually lead to a cyclical schedule.

The Station Gangs' outdoor season, when they focus on station exteriors, is from April through October, and then when cold weather arrives they head indoors to concentrate on interior work.

Last winter, they did their magic at Poughkeepsie Station on the Hudson Line: Woodwork in the Main Waiting Room was repaired by the carpenters, and then sanded, re-stained, and re-varnished; the overpass crown molding, window sills and baseboards were repainted; and the vestibule was refreshed. The Harlem-125th Street Station also got the treatment, with work done on benches, door trims, and radiator covers.