New Jersey Transit is actually getting worse (Opinion)
How is it possible that New Jersey Transit went from one of the next public transportation systems in the nation to arguably the worst?
Some blame the lack of funding on Governor Christie. Others say it's a lack of priorities and mismanagement. Here's the bottom line, regardless of who is to blame, commuters receiving alerts about cancellations minutes before their train is scheduled to arrive and being stranded on platforms and then crowded into packed, late trains is unacceptable.
It's the problem of whomever was elected to fix it. That burden falls to Governor Phil Murphy. He made NJT a priority of his campaign and promised an audit and accountability. Seven months into the job and still no progress. Disappointing is an understatement. The Governor is showing a lack of focus and is so seemingly concerned with being the darling of the radical Left that he is missing an opportunity to actually solve a problem.
New Jersey voters are not hyper-partisan voters. For most of us, we live apart from the talking points from major candidates and live in the world of the practical. Yes, we have core principles and beliefs, but when it comes to government, we just want them to do their job. Get out of the way of private prosperity, keep the peace in our communities and make the trains run on time. Pretty simple when it comes down to it.
President Trump is gaining support because whether you like it or not, he is practical. Immigration reform is about protecting Americans. Economic policy is about making it easier for the private sector to create jobs. Foreign policy is about keeping our enemies in check and reducing threats. Fiscal policy is about helping the middle and working class keep more of what they earn in order to provide relief from burdensome taxes. Trump gets it and will likely be rewarded with re-election.
Back in New Jersey, Murphy seems to be only about political positioning. Catering to the far left with his Attorney General joining lawsuit after lawsuit to go after the Federal Government. Raising taxes and, so far, refusing to discuss any meaningful changes to public worker health and pension benefits.
Maybe he thinks he'll be a credible candidate in 2020 and be able to leave NJ behind. Maybe he really believes that the way he sees the world through his Goldman Sachs glasses is reality. That all you need is money. Money is a start for sure. But money in the hands of politicians is dangerous. They need to solve this problem with the current funding level. They need to take advantage of some really low hanging fruit at NJT. Explore the value and the potential opportunity to sell the assets and then bring in a private transportation company to run the behemoth system. Privatize certain routes. Partner with ride sharing services for others. Work together with the Federal Government to create a balance between Amtrak and NJT. Again. Practical solutions as if New Jersey was a business.
Under current leadership, we're the worst business model ever. We have a product that no one wants and our solution is to raise prices. NJT is just one of a number of growing reasons people are losing interest in voting and simply planning the exit strategy when the kids are out of school. It can be fixed. Don't give up. I'm diggin' in. Because I love New Jersey. I know you do as well. But we can't expect that middle and working class New Jerseyans, who rely on critical public transportation, to stay here much longer.
How many people have to be driven out before the pols in Trenton get off the partisan talking points and actually attempt to solve the problem? I'll continue to push ideas on how I believe we can fix NJ problems from the trains to the casinos and everything in between.
Last point about the asset monetization for NJT. Sell what they have, use the proceeds to fill the budget gaps caused by decades of robbing one fund to pay for increased spending. Use the leverage of the new money to negotiate a deal that will actually force the public worker unions to come to the table and reform health care benefits and convert new workers to 403B plans. More details on this idea in the weeks to come.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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