Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Murphy Labels Transit a 'Disgrace'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Murphy Labels Transit a 'Disgrace'

Article excerpt

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy, while announcing his pick Wednesday to run the state's Transportation Department, called NJ Transit a "national disgrace" and vowed to "knock it down" and rebuild the ailing public transportation agency from the ground up.

The announcement came just days after The Record and reported that NJ Transit had promoted and given pay increases to 10 allies of Gov. Chris Christie as the agency faltered.

Murphy made reference to millions of dollars spent on "vacant office space" and "undeserved pay increases" at the agency — both stories recently reported by The Record and NJ Transit spent $4.4 million to purchase a floor at its Newark headquarters that it had been leasing for two years but not occupied.

"All of that has come home to roost," Murphy said.

Those are far from the only troubles Murphy and his nominee to lead the Transportation Department, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, will inherit at the beleaguered transit agency.

NJ Transit carries more than 500,000 riders on an average weekday. The agency was once considered a model for mass transit, but after years of lackluster state funding, it struggles to fully fund its operations and capital improvement program.

The Federal Railroad Administration launched a safety compliance audit of the agency in early 2016. In late September 2016, a commuter train crashed into Hoboken Terminal, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others in the railroad's first fatal incident in two decades.

Over the past few months, The Record and have covered a variety of issues facing the agency, from loss of employees to crumbling concrete at its stations to the lack of progress being made on installing a key safety system. Here is what we found:

NJ Transit has lost many senior supervisors and front-line employees to other agencies over the past two years. …

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