Given a second chance to act, New York Governor Kathy Hochul has chosen to side with safety.
In late 2022, a bill requiring two-person crews on freight trains in the state reached her desk — and she vetoed it.
But something changed in 2023. Perhaps it was seeing legislatures and governors in both Ohio and Minnesota take the steps to pass legislation, or the catastrophic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that happened last February.
Either way, Hochul made the right decision on December 8, 2023, when she signed S.5775 into law: capping a superlative effort from SMARTTD’s New York State Legislative Board led by State Legislative Director Sam Nasca.
A mere three years ago, a bill establishing a minimum freight crew size did not even make it out of a state Senate committee. Now, New York is the third state in 2023 to pass two-person crew legislation, bringing the total number of states to have implemented legislation or regulations regarding a minimum two-person crew to 12.
“Another state has come to the conclusion that a two-person crew is appropriate and necessary for safe railroad operations,” SMART-TD National Legislative Director Greg Hynes said. “We thank all of the legislators, especially state Senator Timothy Kennedy, who introduced the bill in his chamber, and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli for their leadership.
“Congratulations to all on the TD New York State Legislative Board for pulling together and achieving another victory.”
The bill was introduced in March and establishes an escalating structure of fines for violations by Class I and II rail carriers that run freight trains without two on the crew in the state. It took effect in January 2024.