Ed Stearns read in the Metro-North Railroad newsletter Thursday morning that the new M-8 trains would be rolling in by the first quarter of the year, but like many commuters he has his doubts. "I don't believe that," Stearns said as he exited the train after his commute from New York. Metro-North has been promising the new train cars for six years, yet problems continue to delay their introduction.

At a meeting of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council on Wednesday night, Connecticut transportation Commissioner Jeffrey A. Parker said the new cars might go into service in eight weeks, blaming the most recent delay on software problems.

However, Commuter Council head Jim Cameron of Darien disputed Parker's explanation. "We've found out that it's not just software, but hardware problems, too," Cameron said. He said the council had asked that a representative from the cars' manufacturer, Kawasaki, attend the meeting to explain the problems, but the request was denied.

"They said it was too complex, and people wouldn't understand. I said, 'Please do not be insulting and condescending.' Many people who ride the trains have doctorates. They shouldn't treat us like idiots," Cameron said. He said the best estimate was that 80 new cars would be in service by the end of the year.

Stearns agreed that Metro-North should be more upfront about the problems delaying the long-promised trains. "The most frustrating thing is the lack of communication."

After this winter's heavy snowstorms, about 120 train cars are still out of commission, returning at a rate of about 10 per week. At that rate, it will be another three months before the trains are running at full capacity. Metro-North reduced its regular schedule for February to deal with the car shortage.

Cameron said that with crowded trains and out-of-date cars, more people are working from home or driving into New York City. "I know of people who are moving back to the city, and taking their tax money with them," he said. "People are not going to continue living in Darien and paying taxes if the trains will not run."

What do you think of the delays of the new Metro-North cars? Do you think Metro-North should be more upfront with its riders? How does this affect your commute? Voice your opinion in the comments below.