Train Riders Bill Of Rights Introduced [AUDIO]
At least one state lawmaker firmly believes New Jersey Transit (NJT) rail passengers deserve a better riding experience in every aspect. State Senator Jennifer Beck has introduced, "The Rail Passenger Bill of Rights."
She says it is in response to record numbers of customer complaints regarding New Jersey Transit rail service, despite the agency reporting improved on-time performance.
"New Jersey Transit is making progress under this Administration as evidenced by the last quarterly on time performance report, but riders are still overwhelmingly displeased with the experience they're having," says Beck. "If our goal is to increase ridership, we have to make sure passengers are getting their money's worth."
The measure states that passengers have the right to: reliable and on-time transportation; accurate and timely information about train arrival times and service delays; helpful, courteous service from the operator's employees; and safe, comfortable, and clean trains and stations. To achieve these goals, the "Bill of Rights" prescribes a variety of remedies including: ensuring enough seats are available for each ticketed passenger, better announcement of service delays, including email and text notifications like those used by airlines, clearer posting of alternate transportation information when service is disrupted and better maintenance of stations.
Beck says when 17,000 customers were surveyed in November of 2011 riders gave NJ Transit a score of 4.1 on a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being the top score. She thinks delays may play a part in that low score, but says riders have many more issues than that.
"There's a lot more that goes into a rider's experience on NJT than simply whether or not the train arrives on time," explains Beck. "Failure of heating or cooling systems on trains, dingy stations, and overcrowding on trains can ruin a commute. Passengers have a right to a minimum level of service when they ride our state's mass transit system."
Beck says NJT has the census data to determine when more trains might be needed in order to ensure a seat for every passenger.
Civil penalties for violating the rights set forth by the bill would not exceed $1000. Any award would be at the discretion of the Division of Consumer Affairs.