NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney Says Murphy Already Had Power to Fix NJ Transit Troubles

A New Jersey Transit train arrives at Hoboken Terminal during morning rush hour.

A New Jersey Transit train arrives at Hoboken Terminal during morning rush hour. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy’s response last week to the ongoing problems at NJ Transit was to call on the legislature to remove state-residency requirements for engineers. But, Senate President Steve Sweeney says Murphy doesn’t need additional legislation.

NJ Biz reports that Sweeney says Murphy’s administration already has a Residency Review Committee, which has the power to waive the residency requirements. The requirements, Murphy says, makes it difficult to hire people for open engineer positions.

Sweeney put out a statement urging the governor to take advantage of that authority as “the most effective way to quickly put more engineers to work and to alleviate a shortage that has been a problem in the making for years.”

NJBiz reports the legislature had also already been moving on legislation long before Murphy called for it, with both the state Senate and Assembly taking initial action on it in early June.

Murphy campaigned on a pledge to fix the problems with NJ Transit, but now—seven months into his term—has said he didn’t realize what bad shape the agency is in. He has blamed this summer’s woes on former Gov. Chris Christie.

Commuters, however, complain that service this year is worse than during last year’s so-called “Summer of Hell.” They say a large part of the problem is that agency this year does not communicate problems and cancellations in a timely manner, leaving would-be riders stranded at the last minute.

Murphy and transit officials have promised to improve communications.

Quote of the Day: “Chris and I figured out what we could agree on, and we worked together to get it done. I had some of the brutal fights of my life with him, but we’re friends.” — Senate President Steve Sweeney, on his relationship with former Gov. Chris Christie.

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NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney Says Murphy Already Had Power to Fix NJ Transit Troubles