Train Conductor Pens Apology Notes to 500 Passengers After His Mistake

02/26/2014 at 07:45 AM EST

Michael Shaw, Metro North Conductor, Writes Apology o Passengers
Michael Shaw, in his Twitter profile picture
Courtesy Michael Shaw.
A conductor on the nation's second-busiest commuter railroad apologized Monday to riders in Connecticut for an express train that failed to show up, delaying their trip into New York City.

Michael Shaw had told passengers Friday at four stations along the Metro-North Railroad to wait for an express train that later was canceled. He says he put 500 copies of his written apology on rail car seats Monday morning.

In the note he addressed to "our friends and passengers," he said he was shocked and furious.

"I am as sick of apologizing to you as you are of hearing it," Shaw said.

Commuters have recently complained about overcrowded rail cars, forcing many to stand for much of their trips into Grand Central Terminal in New York. In January, downed wires left nearly 200 passengers stranded for about two hours in 10-degree weather in Westport.

Shaw, president of the conductors union, said in an interview that Metro-North often apologizes, but not for every problem that occurs.

"I just did my own letter," he said. "I know a lot of the passengers."

Jim Cameron, a commuter advocate, said it's the first time he can remember a conductor apologizing in writing for Metro-North problems. Conductors have made "unofficial apologies" on the loudspeaker, but he's never known of a conductor leaving written apologies on rail car seats.

"That's extraordinary," Cameron said. "It not only speaks to the dedication of the employee but also the frustration they have with management and the embarrassment they have."

Shaw, 48, has been working at Metro-North for 30 years and said he loves his job. "I love the people," he said, comparing his work to postal carriers who know residents on their routes.

In addition, Shaw, who lives in North Haven, Conn., said he receives reports from his daughter who rides Metro-North daily.

"I get the complaints when I get home," he said.

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