Metro-North President Howard Permut, a member of the team that set up the railroad more than three decades ago, left a farewell message to riders as he retired today.
Permut served as president of the railroad for five and a half years. He said he’d been planning on retiring, but it was affected by a year full of turmoil – including the railroad’s first-ever fatal derailment in the Bronx on Dec. 1, when 4 people were killed and dozens more injured.
The tragedy had a deep effect on the 62-year-old, lifelong railroader.
Metro-North was established 31 years ago, but Permut served even before then as an official with the railroad’s parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Here’s his statement from the MTA website:
After a 34-year career at Metro-North, I am retiring today (Friday, January 31) as president of the railroad. Joseph J. Giulietti, who currently serves as executive director of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, and who previously was a Metro-North executive for 15 years, will succeed me.
Metro-North has constituted the major part of my career, and a good part of my life. I was privileged to be one of the founding members of the railroad in 1983.
We faced great challenges, many of which, at the time, seemed insurmountable. Yet over the years, we achieved successes that were unimaginable in those early days. We became the busiest railroad in the U.S. and along the way earned a reputation for delivering excellent customer service. Last year, we celebrated two significant milestones – our 30th anniversary and the Centennial of Grand Central Terminal, for which we serve as the proud steward.
Amidst all the strides that we have made, however, last year was unarguably the most difficult period in Metro-North history and the most difficult of my tenure. The serious incidents that occurred, including the tragic Spuyten Duyvil derailment, shook us to our core. This event, in particular, will affect me for the rest of my life.
Every employee at Metro-North is committed to working diligently to operate the railroad in the safest manner possible, and to regain your trust. Your safety has always been, and always will be, our first priority.
Leading this railroad has been an honor. Without a doubt, any records that Metro-North has achieved have resulted from the hard work and dedication of its employees. It has been a privilege to be associated with this team.
I thank you for your ongoing patronage through the good, and even the tough times. For their unwavering support of Metro-North through the years, thanks also goes to our service partners and elected officials without whose assistance we could not have accomplished the many service enhancements that benefit our customers and communities at large.
I know that this railroad’s new president, and all of its employees, will continue the pursuit of excellence that was set in motion in 1983.