What’s the Deal With NJ Transit? [AUDIO]
Electrical issues, unanticipated weather events and other mishaps have wreaked havoc on the New Jersey Transit rail lines over the past few months, particularly the Northeast Corridor.
NEC trains faced delays of up to 30 minutes Wednesday morning because of water main break in Queens, New York. Another bout of delays hit later Wednesday due to a fatality on the tracks. On Tuesday, downed wires halted service on the NEC and caused delays up to an hour.
NJ Transit riders had their chance to voice their opinions of the agency on Wednesday in Newark, where the Board of Directors held its monthly meeting.
From an antiquated rail system to panhandlers at train stops, the list of complaints was varied. However, what had most people bothered was the number of delays and other technical problems.
"I think we've run into some real challenges on the Northeast Corridor that have inconvenienced and disrupted the lives of our customers," said James Weinstein, NJ Transit Executive Director.
While he understands rider frustration, he added, "I think the suggestions that somehow we can just pay for what needs to be done are naïve."
The NEC rail line belongs to Amtrak, and according to Weinstein, Amtrak has been underfunded by Congress almost since the day it was created.
"We're paying the price for it now," said Weinstein. "Until the kinds of investments that are needed are made, we're going to continue to have problems."
He continued, "If you look at the parts of the railroad we run, they're all in a state of good repair."
Weinstein noted NJ Transit pays Amtrak $100 million per year for capital improvements and other measures. Still, he said, Amtrak has not been funded the way it should.
Riders also cited a lack of communication between NJ Transit and customers during delays and emergencies. According to Weinstein, that has not been a problem.
"We communicate in a whole series of ways," he said. "We're trying to make New Jersey Transit more user-friendly."