TRENTON — On his first full day as New Jersey governor, Phil Murphy briefly clarified his December remark that NJ Transit is a "national disgrace."

"We talk about needing to tear up the floorboards and start from scratch," Murphy said at the end of a roundtable on raising the minimum wage, in audio obtained by New Jersey 101.5 through an agreement with 24/7 News Source. "I want to correct myself in the following respect: There are a lot of good men and women who go to work every day and try to do their best inside the context of NJ Transit."

Murphy, who is already tasked with selecting a new executive director of the agency with Steven Santoro stepping down in April, was responding Wednesday to a question of whether he had requested the resignations of other administrators who were Chris Christie allies, according to 24/7 News Source.

"We've got no gripe with the overwhelming amount of folks who are going to work every day," Murphy said. "It's the leadership that we have a gripe with. It's the funding."

The governor's remarks came in the midst of a rough beginning to 2018 for NJ Transit, which over a five-workday period through Jan. 11 canceled close to 100 peak-period trains, citing repairs made necessary by the year-opening cold snap even after temperatures warmed to seasonable highs.

Also on Jan. 11, federal regulators recommended what would be a record $12,000 fine against NJ Transit in anticipation of the agency missing a self-imposed deadline to fully implement positive train control on its fleet. On Monday, New Jersey 101.5 morning show host Bill Spadea spoke with former NJ Transit chief compliance officer Todd Barretta, who has filed a whistleblower lawsuit over what he called a "constant culture of non-compliance."

In addition to these issues, NJ Transit continues to contend with an Amtrak track upgrade project at New York Penn Station which is expected to last through May.

Patrick Lavery produces "New Jersey's First News" and is New Jersey 101.5's morning drive breaking news reporter. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

Previous reporting by Dan Alexander, David Matthau, and The Associated Press. Want to be part of our Commuter Advisory Board? Contact Dan at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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