NJ Politics Digest: NJ Transit’s Long Overdue Audit Paints Bleak Picture

 

Two months and hundreds of angry social media posts by stranded commuters later, the audit points out just how bad the agency still is at communicating with its customers.

Two months and hundreds of angry social media posts by stranded commuters later, the audit points out just how bad NJ Transit still is at communicating with its customers. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

When you want to fix a state agency notorious for poor service and delays, it’s not a good idea to miss your deadline.

But that was the situation Gov. Phil Murphy was in on Tuesday, nine months after taking office and delivering the results of an audit of NJ Transit that he had said would take about three months to complete.

Murphy and his team have held off on making significant improvements to the agency’s service until the delayed $1.3 million audit was completed, even though NJ Transit service has become a statewide crisis with frustrated commuters filling social media with complaints.

The audit’s findings came as little surprise—describing an agency short on funding and a vision for the future, while hamstrung by a bloated bureaucracy and problems attracting and retaining personnel.

But Murphy, who in August held a press conference promising to address the agency’s problems, said now he will act on the audit’s recommendations. Murphy, however, warned that improvements will take time.

In August, Murphy also promised to improve communications, so commuters would be informed of delays and cancellations. Two months and hundreds of angry social media posts by stranded commuters later, the audit pointed out just how bad the agency still is at communicating with its customers, particularly on social media.

On Tuesday, Kevin Corbett, who is paid $280,000 annually as the agency’s executive director, again said the agency will improve its communications.

In a bit of irony, the agency was posting on social media during Murphy’s press conference at the Metuchen Train Station on Tuesday, informing commuters of additional delays. The tweet, posted at 11:34 a.m., informed riders that an 11:25 a.m. train from Secaucus would be 10 minutes late due to track maintenance.

Quote of the Day: “Whenever it’s about one random industry, it feels more like the product of lobbying and political capture than it does the product of a reasoned debate about what’s best for consumers and sellers in the state.” — Jacob Hale Russell, on a bill backed by South Jersey Democrats that would drastically curtail legal remedies for consumers suing car dealers—a bill that seems to benefit Democratic donors.

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NJ Politics Digest: NJ Transit’s Long Overdue Audit Paints Bleak Picture