New Jersey governor, other officials address ire of NJ Transit riders

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NEWARK — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and other officials addressed the ire of commuters over NJ Transit’s recent woes on Thursday, with Murphy blaming his predecessor for the problems and the state’s transportation commissioner asking for patience in correcting them.

“I don’t blame commuters one bit for their anger and cynicism,” Murphy told reporters at NJ Transit headquarters, according to a Bloomberg report. “We are climbing out of a deep hole after eight years of failure.” Murphy, a Democrat in his first term, succeeded Republican Chris Christie, who instituted significant budget cuts on NJ Transit during his two terms.

“We’re committed to getting this right,” Murphy said. “If anything, I underestimated the mess.”

Facing equipment shortages and playing catch-up on positive train control installation, NJ Transit has cancelled 20 or more trains on some recent days, in addition to scheduled service reductions [See "NJ Transit to reduce trains as part of PTC catch-up effort," Trains News Wire, May 4, 2018]. It will also shut down its Atlantic City Line next month until early 2019 [See "NJ Transit to shut down Atlantic City line for PTC installation," Trains News Wire, Aug. 6, 2018].

State Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Saccetti said there were no immediate solutions for the commuter system’s problems.

“There’s nothing that’s going to happen today, tomorrow, that makes such an appreciable difference that you’re not going to come and have this conversation with me next month,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.“Planning and good management started in February. You’ve just got to give us time to actually start to see the fruits of that labor.”

Members of the state legislature have scheduled an Aug. 16 hearing to further examine the transit agency’s problems.

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