Even if you never ride Metro-North, the railroad\u2019s current problems are hitting your pocketbook. This \u201cwinter of discontent\u201d shows signs of becoming a chronic problem, bleeding our state\u2019s resources, human and monetary. Here\u2019s why. At the \u201cCommuter Speakout\u201d in mid-February in Southport, almost 200 angry riders turned out to confront CDOT and Metro-North officials, sharing their horror stories of longer rides, unheated rail cars and stranded trains. But they did more than complain \u2026 they threatened to move away. Several real estate agents told the crowd they had lost closings when folks moving up from NYC got wind of the Metro-North problems. Others already living in Connecticut said they were moving closer to their Manhattan jobs, to towns with dependable, cheaper mass transit. If people move out of Connecticut, they take with them their taxes, both local (property) and state (sales and income). Reduced demand for real estate lowers property values. Your town\u2019s grand list shrinks and taxes must rise to fill the gap, creating a vicious cycle. The \u201cgold coast\u201d is losing its luster. But surely this will all be fixed, right? By the spring, house hunters will be back, fueling the recovery. Maybe not, because Metro-North\u2019s new president isn\u2019t making promises for a speedy turnaround. Consider this: Many people chose where to live based on travel time to work. A one-hour commuting time from midtown Manhattan used to include portions of Connecticut all the way from Greenwich through Stamford, Darien and Norwalk. Not anymore. Trains are running slower since last spring\u2019s derailment \u2026 much slower. In the 1950s, the New Haven Railroad ran express from Stamford to Grand Central Terminal in 47 minutes. By 2000, Metro-North had increased speeds so the run could be done in 46 minutes, making Stamford a desirable bedroom community. Today, in the cause of safety, Stamford to GCT takes 63 minutes. Metro-North\u2019s new president, Joseph Giulietti, told lawmakers in Hartford that running speeds will not increase in the coming years, and possibly never. The Federal Railroad Administration has placed so many speed limits on the New Haven line that what used to be a 1:47 run from New Haven to GCT now takes 2:04, 17 minutes longer. With a typical five-working-day round-trip schedule, that\u2019s almost three hours a week in extra commuting time on top of the 17-plus hours already spent on the train! Nobody wants to compromise safety for speed, but neither do commuters want to pay the highest fares in the country for unreliable, slower service. Who\u2019s to blame? Gov. Rowland, who ignored investing in rail when there was still time to fix it, and Govs. Rell and Malloy, who treat the Special Transportation Fund like a petty cash drawer to pay for everything but rail. Most of all, our legislature bears the blame for ignoring transportation funding for decades. Doesn\u2019t it seem hypocritical for Mr. Malloy and our state legislature to be so \u201cangry,\u201d confused and \u201cappalled\u201d with the state of Metro-North today when it was their spending, or lack thereof, that got us in this mess? Jim Cameron has been a Darien resident for 22 years. He was a member of the Connecticut Rail Commuter Council for 19 years and still serves on the Darien RTM. The opinions expressed in this column are only his own. You can reach him at CommuterActionGroup@gmail.com.