One thing Dems, Republicans agree on: NJ Transit is a mess
Fixing New Jersey Transit is apparently an issue that’s bringing Democrats and Republicans together in New Jersey.
As Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed an executive order Monday that calls for a comprehensive audit of NJ Transit, he was joined by four legislators — two Republicans and two Democrats.
Included in the group were state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat from Bergen County; state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, a Republican from Union County; Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon of Madison, who co-chaired a series of committee hearings on NJ Transit over the past eight months; and Republican Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz, who sponsored more than half a dozen NJ Transit bills last year, including one that would require the agency to provide free tickets to commuters who were delayed at least an hour.
Weinberg said efforts to fully understand and repair the problems at NJ Transit — which has seen countless recently delays and train cancellations — have been “a real bipartisan partnership." She thanked the new governor for putting a spotlight “on something that is so important to the economy of New Jersey, which is our transportation infrastructure.
Kean said it’s important for legislators to work together because “too many of the commuters in this district and throughout the state have experienced real problems with New Jersey Transit — lack of transparency, lack of service, lack of communication.”
“We need to work together on a bipartisan basis to ensure that the worker experience, the commuter experience and the citizen experience is unparalleled in this nation," he said.
He also said he looks forward to partnering with Murphy “ to make sure that the New Jersey commuter, New Jersey resident has a better travel and a more predictable travel experience.”
McKeon agreed lawmakers must work together in a bipartisan way to fix NJ Transit. He noted many people are adversely affected when the trains don’t run on time.
“Think of the hourly-wage employees who were docked pay because they couldn’t get to work on time. Think of the moms and dads on the phone saying. 'Please, it’s not my fault, daycare, that I can’t be home on time.'”
Munoz said the reliability of NJ Transit has a direct impact on residents all over the state, because “our property values are directly linked to our ability to commute to work.”
She stressed when it comes to fixing NJ Transit, a bipartisan approach is key.
“We want to have reliability, we want to have dependability, we want to have, as everyone has mentioned, courteous service, affordable service, and this (the audit) is a first step," she said.
Weinberg also expressed her hope that the audit would take a close look at the culture of NJ Transit, because of the more than $10 million “that has been paid out over the last decade in lawsuits for sexual harassment and racial bias.”
“Hopefully the audit will turn up whatever systemic issues have led to this kind of excess at New Jersey Transit," she said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com
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