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Assembly Approves Giving Judiciary Committee Subpoena Power to Investigate NJ Transit

Asm. McKeon will Lead Assembly Investigation into NJT Safety & Financing Operations; Judiciary will Work with Senate Legislative Oversight Committee

The Assembly on Thursday voted 71-0 to launch an investigation into the safety and financial practices of NJ Transit, giving the Assembly Judiciary Committee subpoena power to conduct the inquiry.

The Judiciary panel will work on the inquiry with the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee, starting with a 10 a.m. Friday hearing.

The bill (AR-185) sponsored by Judiciary Chairman John McKeon authorizes the Assembly Judiciary Committee to enter upon an investigation or inquiry into the financial and operating practices of the New Jersey Transit Corporation. The resolution grants the committee the power to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documents.

“The public and the state’s economic vitality depend on NJ Transit to fulfill its mission, but the public has lost confidence in the agency’s ability to operate safely and efficiently,” said Assembly Speaker Prieto (D-Hudson/Bergen). “Public safety must always be the priority at NJ Transit, but recent events call into question whether the agency and the administration have been committed to that all-important principle. The public deserves a thorough and professional investigation that answers all its questions, but most of all it deserves this – a safe NJ Transit.”

McKeon (D-Essex/Morris) has repeatedly raised questions about NJ Transit safety – especially after the recent Hoboken crash – and has been tasked by the Speaker with being the Assembly’s lead on the issue.

“This review will greatly assist the Legislature’s efforts to enact meaningful reform to ensure that NJ Transit fulfills its purpose – safe transportation service in the public interest,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “We’ve seen fare hikes on working families combined with service cuts. We’ve seen NJ Transit used as place for patronage for unqualified appointees. We’ve seen concerns about public safety rise. And we’ve seen a dearth of leadership at this vital agency. The public deserves better than what’s been getting.”

Prieto and McKeon had been considering asking the Office of the State Auditor to look into the agency, but concerns arose about how long it would take to complete such a review.

“The status quo at NJ Transit is not acceptable,” Prieto said. “New Jersey needs a reliable and safe mass transit system, and that’s not happening right now.”

“The public deserves a full accounting of what’s going on at NJ Transit,” McKeon said.