New Jersey governor touts NJ Transit improvements

RELATED TOPICS: TRANSIT | COMMUTER RAILROADS | NJ TRANSIT
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy rode this NJ Transit train to a Thursday press conference touting improvements in the commuter railroad's service, noting the train was on time and the trip was "wonderful."
Ralph Spielman

SECAUCUS, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy joined NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett and state Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti Thursday at a press conference to note progress in improving NJ Transit service since Murphy took office.

Murphy noted he had arrived at the Secaucus station named for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg by NJ Transit train No. 3240: “It was on time. It was a wonderful experience. It was unannounced. It was not rigged.” The governor said increased funding, engineer recruitment, and renewed attention to customer experience have led to a reduction in cancellations and improvement in on-time performance; he also announced there will be no fare increase for NJ Transit service this year.

NJ Transit has seen a 47 percent decrease in train cancellations in the first three months of 2019, compared to the first quarter of 2018. Work to improve the agency has included:

— A proposed $150 million increase in funding in the fiscal 2020 budget.

— $31 million in investments by NJ Transit and Amtrak to improve Northeast Corridor rail infrastructure between the Portal Bridge, near Secaucus, to Trenton. That includes track and platform work in progress at Amtrak’s Newark Penn Station. [See “Amtrak, NJ Transit to invest $31 million in Northeast Corridor,” Trains News Wire, May 15, 2019.]

— Recruitment of more than 100 train engineers to address the shortage that existed when Gov. Murphy was inaugurated. The first class of new engineers has graduated, with the second slated to graduate in October and the third in November.

— The creation of a Customer Advocate and Chief Customer Experience Officer, with Stewart Mader filling the position.

 “This is only the beginning,” Corbett said. “We will continue to maximize our resources to improve the customer experience and deliver the services customers depend on.”

This summer may test NJ Transit’s progress.

Amtrak’s Infrastructure Renewal program at New York Penn Station starts on June 28 and will last until Sept. 2, affecting NJ Transit’s schedules as well as those of Amtrak and the Long Island Rail Road. NJ Transit engineers have also been refusing to work overtime to cover vacations for others, which had caused trains to be cancelled last July and August. [See “NJ Transit train cancellations increase as engineers refuse OT work,” Trains News Wire, June 26, 2019.]

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