Gov. Phil Murphy has a message for New Jersey Transit commuters: He feels your pain. But as the state’s top executive made clear yesterday, he doesn’t have a quick fix for the rash of delayed trains and aging rolling stock — or the severe staffing shortage, which can lead to cancellations when engineers take unscheduled absences.
“Like everything else, there’s a small population who are spoiling it for the broader population,” Murphy said. “As to these instances, our administration is making it known that we need and expect everyone to report to their jobs as scheduled.”
“The great majority of engineers are responsible,” added NJ Transit executive director Kevin Corbett. “They’ve been working, a lot of them doing voluntary overtime they don’t necessarily need.”
NJ Transit Engineer Union general chairman James Brown said in a statement, “Do some abuse the system? Absolutely. But it’s not all bad apples. Some are tired, or they’ve used up their sick days. We’re trying to get everyone to chip in extra — work their days off, which a lot of them are doing. But we are short engineers. It’s a hard problem to fix.”
Nevertheless, some train cancellations will continue throughout the fall as the agency rushes to install positive-train-control safety gear by December 31, the federally mandated deadline. Murphy promised NJ Transit will start posting those schedule changes on every platform.
Thus far, NJ Transit has given plenty of warning to riders on the Atlantic City line, letting them know there will be no service at all starting in September, due to PTC deployment.
But riders on all lines have demanded better communication.
“I’m going to give him a chance to see if it’s going to get resolved. Under the previous administration, it was worse,” said Carla Johnkeith, an NJ Transit customer.
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