Fixing NJ Transit

The Record (Bergen County, NJ), November 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

Fixing NJ Transit


NJ TRANSIT is in trouble. Its safety record is poor, and more money and workers are needed to turn things around.

That's not news to thousands of commuters who regularly ride NJ Transit trains and buses. But until recently, state officials seemed in denial. Governor Christie hasn't made public transit a priority, and just last month, the state's Transportation Commissioner told lawmakers that "NJ Transit has sufficient money to fund its operations."

That tune changed last week when Steven Santoro, NJ Transit's new executive director, talked openly about agency problems, saying among others things that NJ Transit ended the last fiscal year with a $22.5 million deficit and that a federal safety inspection revealed serious deficiencies.

Santoro's candor was refreshing, but the picture he drew of an underfunded agency coping with massive challenges was not.

The problem can't be sugarcoated, especially in light of the September train crash in Hoboken that killed one person. The federal investigation discovered workers using personal cellphones while on duty and some trains that were without needed tools or a working fire extinguisher.

Santoro told lawmakers at a legislative hearing that NJ Transit needs more money and to hire about 300 additional employees, including more than 20 people to implement a high-tech safety system known as Positive Train Control. …

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