Commuters Petition For New Leadership At NJ Transit

Sean Adams
February 28, 2020 - 11:10 am
NJ Transit Crowd

Peter Haskell/WCBS 880

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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — After another packed night at Penn Station, it appears New Jersey Transit commuters have had enough.

A signal problem late Thursday caused hour-long delays in and out of Manhattan and left Penn Station packed with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of frustrated commuters.

NJ Transit has acknowledged the delays were caused by a train engineer who ran a red light. It took the agency five hours to find the source of that signal violation, which led to 60-minute train delays. The guilty engineer and conductor have been taken out of service, and face possible disciplinary action.

Riders say these types of issues are a chronic problem.

"Rush hour, when I leave around 5:30, you know, that's when all the, that's when everything happens and that's when it's really packed down there. Oh, everyone goes crazy," one woman said.

"It's a zoo, it's like mayhem. You're just trying to figure out what trains to get on and try to figure out a way to get home," said commuter Brian McCormack.

A group called The New Jersey Association Of Railroad Passengers is calling on NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett and State Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti to resign.

Commuters also launched a Change.org petition, appealing to Gov. Phil Murphy, the state legislature and the NJ Transit board to bring in new leadership. As of the publishing of this article, the petition had about 750 signatures.

"We the 900,000+ daily commuters of NJTRANSIT and residents of NJ respectfully request the state government and board of NJTRANSIT to find new leadership for this agency," the petition reads. "The current state of NJTRANSIT is unacceptable for the daily riders who are routinely left stranded day after day. We need to hire a transit veteran who has the knowledge and will to turn NJTRANSIT around. "

The petition believes that veteran could be Andy Byford, who last week stepped down as president of the New York City Transit Authority after two years on the job. The Englishman and world renowned transit expert has been  credited with leading a turnaround of the subway system. He came from the Toronto Transit Commission and has also worked in transit agencies in Sydney and London.

"He is a proven leader with support from those around him, his riders, and the lowest level staff in his organizations. This man can build a winning team. This is the kind of leader NJTRANSIT needs at the helm going forward," the petition states.

This is not the first time Bryford's name has been brought up as the answer to NJ Transit's problems.

Earlier this month on the 880 In Depth Podcast, New Jersey State Senate Majority leader Loretta Weinberg said, "It would not be a stretch for our administration to reach out to him.”

Murphy has said he stands by Corbett.

Meanwhile, there could be more trouble down the tracks.

The Gateway Tunnel Project has stalled and the feds have not yet committed money for new rail tunnels under the Hudson, so Amtrak will rehab century-old tunnels, which will cause even more delays in the years to come. 

"They built the Empire State Building in 18 months, so if they really wanted to get it done, they would get it done and so the want, they can't agree on where to get the money," one commuter tells WCBS 880's Sean Adams.

A Trump administration official on Thursday suggested the Hudson River train tunnels should be repaired before the government commits to building a new one.