For months, passengers at Newark Liberty International Airport have been complaining about long waits at security checkpoints — but the situation could be improving soon.

During a news conference at the airport overlooking a security checkpoint in Terminal C, New Jersey U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, flanked by fellow U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and Democratic Congressmen Albio Sires and Donald Payne, announced several steps have been taken by the Transportation Security Administration to speed things up.

Menendez said The TSA has already brought in 25 additional screeners. Another 95 screeners will be hired by the beginning of June. The TSA has approved more overtime, so screeners can work longer hours, and additional K-9 units will be patrolling the checkpoints.

“These are positive steps that take place at a critically important time and they move in the right direction,” he said. “We cannot accept travelers enduring unreasonable and excruciating 2 hour long lines just to get through checkpoints.”

Menendez said that since Sept. 11, 2001, “all of us have accepted the realities of increased security at our airports, but this shouldn’t mean being held prisoner in long security lines.”

He also said addressing the long-line problem will take a team effort and some airlines, including United, are working with TSA to maximize staffing at the busiest flight times.

“Security and the safety of the flying public is our number one objective, but people are sick and tired of waiting, and we can do better,” he said.

Booker said he and other members of the New Jersey Congressional delegation have been working on this problem for several months, and he’s grateful to be able to announce this good news.

“Security and efficiency, short lines, a good experience at the airport are not incongruent,” he said. “People shouldn’t have to show up at the airport two and three hours before their flight just to get through the security checkpoint. That is not an issue of security. That is an issue of inadequate resources put toward organizations like the TSA, and it’s an issue of inadequate planning.”

Booker added the new security upgrades are important for another reason as well.

“People in this region have different travel choices they can make. We want them to choose Newark airport, not decide to go somewhere else because the security lines are too long,” he said. “Our economy in this region literally tens and tens of thousands of jobs, depend upon this airport right here. This is not just about the convenience that travelers should find, this is about jobs and economy prosperity as well.”

Menendez also called on the airlines to consider suspending their bag fees for the summer “to expedite security lines, more checked bags would mean less bags for TSA to screen at the checkpoint.”

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