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NJ Transit Hearings Long on Dialogue Short on Action

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Parsippany-Troy Hills NJ, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce (R-26) said today’s hearing of the state senate and assembly transportation committees with N.J. Transit executives failed to break new ground on how the organization will improve service.

“While the dialogue among legislators and NJ Transit officials is helpful, it does not seem like there are any changes in the works that will solve the ridership problems in the immediate future,” said DeCroce. “Our state’s commuters are very angry and rightfully so. When they show up to take a train and find it’s cancelled that’s a problem. It’s a problem when bus drivers don’t show up to work. But these are not new problems and they should have been addressed long ago by the officials who run the agency.”

The assemblywoman said the hearing covered a lot of familiar territory; such as the need to hire more train engineers and bus drivers, and the problem of engineers and conductors calling out sick and failing to have personnel to replace them – which results in cancelled service. But she said, these are problems of the internal operation of NJ Transit.

“The legislature cannot micromanage NJ Transit’s operations. If they have problems hiring qualified people, we should have heard a lot more about this long ago so it could have been addressed. If NJ Transit needs to waive residency requirements to hire skilled workers, I am sure the legislature will take action — and would have done so long before today. But for the agency to allow problems to fester year after year is simply unacceptable to me and the people I represent,” said DeCroce, a member of the assembly transportation committee.

The assemblywoman said part of the problem with mass transit is that NJ Transit doesn’t recognize its mission. “NJ Transit is in the business of providing safe and efficient transportation service to consumers. It needs to do a much better job of being responsive to its customers. The agency has to view itself – not as an arm of government — but as a consumer business. If NJ Transit were a privately held company it would be out of business – and justifiably so,” added DeCroce. “I hope we hear less excuse making in the future and more from NJ Transit on how it plans to change its operations and its culture to become a stellar consumer-oriented organization. I am certain the legislature will be as helpful as we can be to improving mass transit service in New Jersey.”

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