Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

NJ Transit Fumble

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

NJ Transit Fumble

Article excerpt

MONDAY-MORNING quarterbacking is common after Sunday's game but usually it focuses on what happened on the field, not by the trains. But New Jersey's sole experience with the Super Bowl was a mass- transit fiasco, and now state Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson is conducting an internal investigation. Like all Monday- morning reviews, corrections come too late to change the final score of Sunday's game.

Rumors of Simpson's dissatisfaction with NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein have existed for years - long before NJ Transit failed to prepare properly for Superstorm Sandy and as a result lost $120 million in rail equipment, roughly a third of its fleet. But whether or not the rumors are true, Weinstein has remained in place. And he still does after thousands of football fans waited hours to get to the Super Bowl and to leave MetLife Stadium after the game.

Simpson has asked two NJ Transit board members to lead an investigation. While we are cautiously hopeful some good may come of it, there are some facts that prevent us from expecting much. Where has the NJ Transit board been since the Sandy debacle? NJ Transit officials have made excuses for its failures, and Governor Christie and legislative leaders from both parties have sung Weinstein's praises.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Wood-Ridge, has been a mostly solitary voice in demanding explanations from the transit agency. So while the Christie administration is being investigated for the unexplained closure of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, it is important for the public to recognize that NJ Transit's failure is the result of bipartisan apathy. Democrats and Republicans in Trenton have cared little for mass transit.

Some officials blame the NFL for underestimating the number of fans who would use mass transit on Super Bowl Sunday. Giants co- owner John Mara said 2,000 parking spaces were purchased for the Super Bowl at $150 apiece but not used. …

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