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Via Garibaldi 8

Governor Murphy Comes Under Fire As NJ Transit Continues to Falter

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'Summer of Hell 2': Commuters, lawmakers unleash fury on NJ Transit

Curtis Tate, North Jersey RecordPublished 4:35 p.m. ET Aug. 8, 2018 | Updated 5:40 p.m. ET Aug. 8, 2018

 

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https://www.northjersey.com/videos/news/2018/01/30/video-murphy-announcement-nj-trans/109941192/

Gov. Phil Murphy announces his choice of Kevin Corbett to be the Executive Director of NJ Transit during a presser at Amtrak/NJ Transit station in New Brunswick on 01/30/18. Mitsu Yasukawa/Northjersey.com

NJ Transit riders, transit advocates and elected officials unloaded their fury on the agency's senior management Wednesday amid a summertime service meltdown.

And while the agency's board approved a budget for the next fiscal year that does not increase fares, it continues to raid capital funding to pay for operating costs, a practice that drew widespread criticism under the administration of former Gov. Chris Christie.

Though Gov. Phil Murphy has been in office only seven months, he's beginning to take some of the blame for what he inherited. NJ Transit's canceled trains, broken air conditioners, crumbling walls and deteriorating bridges are his problems now. 

"Our transit has never been worse," said David Peter Alan, chairman of the Lackawanna Coalition, a rider advocacy group.

As NJ Transit riders were already reeling from a reduced schedule to accommodate progress on positive train control, a required safety system, the agency has abruptly canceled trains almost every day.

https://www.northjersey.com/videos/news/transportation/2018/08/08/video-nj-transit-meeting-aug-8/940433002/

On Friday, the agency announced it would shut down an entire line - the one to Atlantic City — for the rest of the year, starting in September.

And over the weekend, the air conditioners that cool Secaucus Junction station failed, days ahead of two major sports events in the area, a Major League Soccer match and the beginning of the NFL preseason. .

The state Assembly and Senate transportation committees will hold a joint hearing about NJ Transit's recent troubles in a hearing next Thursday in Trenton.

"There's tremendous frustration out there," said Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, R-Summit. "There's tremendous anger."

Longtime passengers observed that conditions seemed worse than they did last summer, when an eight-week track repair project in New York's Penn Station forced many commuters to alter their routines.

"Last summer was a breeze," said Rahway commuter Mary Migacz, who's been riding NJ Transit for 38 years. "This is the 'Summer of Hell.' "

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NJTransit executive director Kevin Corbett talks to reporters during a customer forum held to alert riders of changes in train schedules starting June at the Hoboken Terminal on Monday, May 14, 2018. (Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran/Northjersey.com)

Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit's executive director, acknowledged the frustration.

"We thank you for your patience and we know it has been put to the test," Corbett said. "These are issues that will not be solved overnight."

The issues include a chronic shortage of locomotive engineers. In his monthly report to the agency's board of directors, Corbett noted that NJ Transit lost a net of 47 engineers from 2010 to 2017 because it had not hired enough to replace those who retired or left.

The USA TODAY NETWORK — New Jersey has reported extensively over the past year on NJ Transit's personnel issues, with engineers leaving the railroad to work for better salaries and career opportunities at Metro-North, Amtrak and other commuter railroads.

Nine new engineers are to begin working this month, Corbett said, and the agency will ramp up the number of training classes to four per year. The training takes 20 months.

NJ Transit also faces the difficult task of meeting a Dec. 31 deadline to install positive train control. Congress required the collision-avoidance system on passenger and freight railroads a decade ago. NJ Transit has fallen behind its peers on getting it done.

Corbett said progress had been made since he came to the agency in February, with about half the locomotives and cab control cars equipped for the system, 90 percent of employees trained and 70 percent of the antennas and radios needed to make it work.

While those efforts may pay off in the long run, the public sees an operation in disarray.

Joseph Clift, a former planning director for the Long Island Rail Road, suggested that the agency should have foreseen the problems it would have this summer and could have planned a reduced schedule ahead of time to cope with it. Riders may have grumbled about it anyway, but at least they could have seen it coming in advance.

"My view is if you cut service twice, you didn't know what you were doing the first time," Clift said.

Alan, the transit advocate, questioned what benefit suspending the Atlantic City service, as well as service into New York's Penn Station from the Raritan Valley Line, would bring to other parts of the system.

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Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti speaks as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy visited the Madison train station to talk about about proposals to fix NJ Transit. The governor has referred to NJ Transit a 'national disgrace' and vowed to make over the troubled agency. He signed an executive order in January that called for an audit of the organization. March 20, 2018. Madison, NJ. (Photo: Bob Karp/Staff Photographer)

 

He recalled times when the agency had discontinued service and advertised it as temporary, but the trains never returned.

"Tell us when service will come back," he said, addressing the board. "We are concerned we will lose those trains permanently."

Munoz complained that Democrats had criticized Christie for raiding capital to pay for operations, but now they were doing the same thing. In fact, the budget the NJ Transit board of directors approved includes $50 million more in capital funds for operations.

"He's a businessman," Munoz said of Murphy. "You don't do that."

Munoz was with Murphy at the Summit train station in January when the new governor ordered an audit of the agency and promised it in 100 days. Seven months later, Munoz said she was still waiting to see it.

Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the state's transportation commissioner and chairwoman of the NJ Transit board of directors, said the audit would be finished in the next 45 days and would inform how the agency addresses the many problems it has to tackle.

"We are working through these issues as they come to us," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said. "We walked into a firestorm in February."

Source: https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/transportation/2018/08/08/nj-transit-management-feels-fury-commuters-lawmakers/936276002/

 

 

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I mean do commuters really expect a improvement after 8 years of starving budget? Things don’t fix themselves overnight, the same is true for deferred maintenance as it doesn’t  appear immediately.

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1 hour ago, Mtatransit said:

I mean do commuters really expect a improvement after 8 years of starving budget? Things don’t fix themselves overnight, the same is true for deferred maintenance as it doesn’t  appear immediately.

Yes they do, especially when the current governor ran on the platform of change and providing more funding to turn NJ Transit around. The funding situation is actually just as bad if not worst now compared to when Christie was governor. He's been in office long enough now that the system should start stabziling. Instead it's worsening daily. I have two co-workers that live in NJ. We expect them to be 30-60 minutes late at least a few times a month due to cancellations or some other nonsense.

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15 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Yes they do, especially when the current governor ran on the platform of change and providing more funding to turn NJ Transit around. The funding situation is actually just as bad if not worst now compared to when Christie was governor. He's been in office long enough now that the system should start stabziling. Instead it's worsening daily. I have two co-workers that live in NJ. We expect them to be 30-60 minutes late at least a few times a month due to cancellations or some other nonsense.

NJT is actually doing a damn good job of triage right now -- they just can't communicate it. The reason so many trains are being cancelled now is because Christie&co completely failed to do any work on PTC. What that means is that in the space of a year, NJT has to make substantial progress, lest they not be granted an extension and shut down entirely. IMHO that situation would be worse than what's going on currently.

This cauldron of issues has collided with a crew shortage and an ops/capital budget bled dry by Chrystie. To expect all of those things to be resolved in six months sans suffering is ridiculous, and I honestly pin the blame for that expectation on NJT management. They need to tell people what they're doing and why in a clear and cogent fashion -- in other words, take a large dose of Byford. 

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30 minutes ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Yes they do, especially when the current governor ran on the platform of change and providing more funding to turn NJ Transit around. The funding situation is actually just as bad if not worst now compared to when Christie was governor. He's been in office long enough now that the system should start stabziling. Instead it's worsening daily. I have two co-workers that live in NJ. We expect them to be 30-60 minutes late at least a few times a month due to cancellations or some other nonsense.

NJ is facing a looming PTC deadline, and the progress they did since Murphy was tremendous, from 18% to 52%. Compounding the disruption is the crew issues they are facing, as people have been running to MN because the pay is better, and NJT only has 11 in training school. Murphy has gave NJT 200 million to get new engineers. Improvements wouldn’t happen overnight and the previous adminstration didn’t plan properly and didn’t care or fund it the right way. What you see now is the direct result from that

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8 hours ago, Mtatransit said:

NJ is facing a looming PTC deadline, and the progress they did since Murphy was tremendous, from 18% to 52%. Compounding the disruption is the crew issues they are facing, as people have been running to MN because the pay is better, and NJT only has 11 in training school. Murphy has gave NJT 200 million to get new engineers. Improvements wouldn’t happen overnight and the previous adminstration didn’t plan properly and didn’t care or fund it the right way. What you see now is the direct result from that

You keep talking about improvements, as if riders are so stupid that they don't know what's going on. They elected Murphy precisely because they knew that Christie wasn't managing NJ Transit effectively. No one expects the system to be turned around in six months but riders should expect some form of stabilization. The system is not improving from a service standpoint. It isn't just the trains either. The buses are equally horrific. I had meetings in NJ and the late and missing buses were noticeable and inexcusable given the time of day. Meeting the fed goals of PTC is one thing and separate of the overall issues right now. They've known what the issues are plaguing the system now for months, so there should be a plan in place to communicate effectively as to why trains are just being cancelled. Passengers don't know on a day to day basis why their trains are being cancelled. These are the real issues that can and should be addressed and it shouldn't take six months for that either.

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9 hours ago, RR503 said:

NJT is actually doing a damn good job of triage right now -- they just can't communicate it. The reason so many trains are being cancelled now is because Christie&co completely failed to do any work on PTC. What that means is that in the space of a year, NJT has to make substantial progress, lest they not be granted an extension and shut down entirely. IMHO that situation would be worse than what's going on currently.

This cauldron of issues has collided with a crew shortage and an ops/capital budget bled dry by Chrystie. To expect all of those things to be resolved in six months sans suffering is ridiculous, and I honestly pin the blame for that expectation on NJT management. They need to tell people what they're doing and why in a clear and cogent fashion -- in other words, take a large dose of Byford. 

Right and people elected Murphy on the premise that he would right the ship. As I said above six months is certainly enough time to effectively communicate why so many trains are being cancelled. Trains are one thing, but buses with broken AC in the dead of summer is just inexcusable. I saw a video a few days ago of such a set up.

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Gov Murphy and NJ Transit admin held a joint Press Conference today... he admitted he underestimated the mess left by the Christie administration

 

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13 hours ago, Mtatransit said:

NJ is facing a looming PTC deadline, and the progress they did since Murphy was tremendous, from 18% to 52%. Compounding the disruption is the crew issues they are facing, as people have been running to MN because the pay is better, and NJT only has 11 in training school. Murphy has gave NJT 200 million to get new engineers. Improvements wouldn’t happen overnight and the previous adminstration didn’t plan properly and didn’t care or fund it the right way. What you see now is the direct result from that

I just read something the other day that (NJT) got approved an extension for PTC installation until 2020 to comply. 

Improvements are being made. However, people are growing mad. Transportation funding is another issue for the state. Due diligence needs to be practiced and let everything run its course. 

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On 8/8/2018 at 11:38 PM, RR503 said:

NJT is actually doing a damn good job of triage right now -- they just can't communicate it. The reason so many trains are being cancelled now is because Christie&co completely failed to do any work on PTC. What that means is that in the space of a year, NJT has to make substantial progress, lest they not be granted an extension and shut down entirely. IMHO that situation would be worse than what's going on currently.

This cauldron of issues has collided with a crew shortage and an ops/capital budget bled dry by Chrystie. To expect all of those things to be resolved in six months sans suffering is ridiculous, and I honestly pin the blame for that expectation on NJT management. They need to tell people what they're doing and why in a clear and cogent fashion -- in other words, take a large dose of Byford. 

What he’s done could actually amount to industrial sabotage 

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17 hours ago, 46Dover said:

What he’s done could actually amount to industrial sabotage 

It more then likely could be. However I do like the direction that Murphy is traveling. And if he keeps it up then hopefully soon the Christie Corporation Crumble as I like to call it, will be a thing of the past!

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7 hours ago, LIRRMedford said:

It more then likely could be. However I do like the direction that Murphy is traveling. And if he keeps it up then hopefully soon the Christie Corporation Crumble as I like to call it, will be a thing of the past!

Heh please. It's not like Murphy is allocating so much money to NJT to turn them around. The Democrats are stealing from NJT just like the previous administration, so let's not sit here and kid ourselves. My question is how long are people going to keep drinking the Kool-Aid that it's all because of the Republicans? Six months in he can sing that tune, but a year or two from now? Not so much. This is his agency now not Christie's so it's time for him to step up and own it since that's one of the main things he ran on and why he was elected.

Some things that they can address now that won't cost much is they buggy and crappy app system and all of their broken ticket machines.

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1 hour ago, LIRRMedford said:

 I agree 6 more months and I would raise questions. Not jumping any bandwagon but I still think its an improvement.

I had meetings in Hoboken a few months ago I was not impressed at all with NJT. Broken machines... Old buses. I have more meetings later this year, so we'll see.

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9 hours ago, Via Garibaldi 8 said:

Heh please. It's not like Murphy is allocating so much money to NJT to turn them around. The Democrats are stealing from NJT just like the previous administration, so let's not sit here and kid ourselves. My question is how long are people going to keep drinking the Kool-Aid that it's all because of the Republicans? Six months in he can sing that tune, but a year or two from now? Not so much. This is his agency now not Christie's so it's time for him to step up and own it since that's one of the main things he ran on and why he was elected.

Some things that they can address now that won't cost much is they buggy and crappy app system and all of their broken ticket machines.

Dude. Murphy almost tripled NJT's state contribution. If that isn't money, then I don't know what is. 

I also think Christie's issue was less funding and more management. The people he installed in NJT's upper echelons were woefully incompetent, and were really only there to satisfy the political agendas of the governor. That, for example, is why there were practically no new classes of engineers under Christie, and no progress on PTC -- there was no vision for the agency beyond being a political tool for Christie. 

Give Murphy some time. Because of the management issues Christie caused, fixing NJT is a 4 to 5 year endeavour (that stat is from the exec. director's mouth). I think during that time, Murphy must own what he's done, but I think he's wholly in the right to point out the players that took NJT to this dark place. Causation doesn't go away with election. 

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38 minutes ago, RR503 said:

Dude. Murphy almost tripled NJT's state contribution. If that isn't money, then I don't know what is. 

I also think Christie's issue was less funding and more management. The people he installed in NJT's upper echelons were woefully incompetent, and were really only there to satisfy the political agendas of the governor. That, for example, is why there were practically no new classes of engineers under Christie, and no progress on PTC -- there was no vision for the agency beyond being a political tool for Christie. 

Give Murphy some time. Because of the management issues Christie caused, fixing NJT is a 4 to 5 year endeavour (that stat is from the exec. director's mouth). I think during that time, Murphy must own what he's done, but I think he's wholly in the right to point out the players that took NJT to this dark place. Causation doesn't go away with election. 

We’ll see. If the funding is there and the budget isn’t raided as has been noted, then problems should be addressed.

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NJT in Christie’s Era was a disaster. NJT was lucky they got the Multilevel order before Christie started to raid NJT’s budget. He put in incompetent people into the agency using newly created roles such as  “policy and strategic planning director”. I will give Murphy one to two years to improve. Engineer shortage is a real issue at NJT and I think it’s time for NJT to tell commuters to just brace for a significant cutback in service. It’s better than guessing if their train will come every morning. Quite frankly, I think some branches could be cut back to the main junction and some expresses could run as locals to free up some crew.

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