NJ Politics Digest: As Commuters Fume and Sweat, NJ Transit Says No Relief in Sight

Commuters head from New Jersey Transit trains to PATH trains during a morning commute to Penn Station on the first day of interruptions in Hoboken, New Jersey on July 10, 2017. Photographer:
After hearing furious commuters complain of unannounced cancellations, equipment failures and other service delays, NJ Transit officials blamed the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie. Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy included a pledge to fix problems at NJ Transit as part of his promise to show New Jersey taxpayers they were getting good value for his increases to what was already one of the nation’s highest property tax burdens.

On Wednesday, the agency had a message for commuters who are suffering through what some say are conditions worse than last year’s so-called “Summer of Hell”—there are no quick fixes coming.

After hearing furious commuters complain of unannounced cancellations, equipment failures and other service delays, agency officials blamed the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie, who left office more than seven months ago, and said that issues with the agency “won’t be fixed overnight,” according to a report in The New York Times.

Murphy has been vacationing with his family at his Italian mansion during a summer heatwave that saw commuters fuming after several days of unannounced delays due to foreseeable things like worker vacations and unforeseeable incidents like air conditioning and equipment failures and workers taking unscheduled days off.

Murphy had made improving transit service in the state a major campaign issue and one of the cornerstones of his push to boost the state budget by about $2.7 billion. But so far, commentators said during a meeting of the agency’s board, things have only gotten worse.

Commuters and their representatives turned out to vent their fury at the transit board. A Republican member of the state assembly blasted transit officials for poor planning that has left commuters stranded and, as one commuter described it, dealing with zoo-like conditions.

“When New Jersey fails to plan, everyone’s plans suffer,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, according to the Times report. “There have to be better options than canceling trains at the last minute or shutting down lines altogether.”

Transit officials, who recently announced the agency would no longer be running train service on its Atlantic City line said things aren’t likely to improve anytime soon. The agency has hired new employees, but they must undergo a lengthy training procedure. NJ Transit is also struggling to meet a federally mandated deadline for installing a positive train control safety system, they said.

Quote of the Day: “Last summer was a breeze. This is the ‘Summer of Hell.'” — Rahway commuter Mary Migacz, on NJ Transit’s service failures.

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NJ Politics Digest: As Commuters Fume and Sweat, NJ Transit Says No Relief in Sight