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Gordon, McKeon Invite Testimony from Commuters on How to Improve NJ Transit Performance

Joint Senate/Assembly committee hearing on NJ Transit on Thursday, February 23, in Hackensack is third to be held in the wake of the fatal Hoboken train crash

Senator Bob Gordon and Assemblyman John McKeon today announced that the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and the Assembly Judiciary Committee will meet jointly in Hackensack on Thursday to hear testimony from commuters on how to improve New Jersey Transit operations, service and safety. The 4 p.m. hearing on February 23 will be the third held by the two committees in the wake of the fatal Hoboken train crash last fall.

“We are pleased that NJ Transit committed to meet the 2018 federal deadline for the installation of life-saving Positive Train Control on all of its trains, which was a principal focus of our initial hearings,” said Senator Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic), chair of the Senate oversight committee. “But it is clear that the problems at NJ Transit run much deeper — from inadequate and uncertain funding to high management turnover to equipment failures that lead to more frequent breakdowns than other commuter railroads in the Northeast.”

“As a frequent commuter on NJ Transit, I know all too well the issues that the residents of New Jersey face on a nearly daily basis while utilizing our mass transit system,” said Assemblyman McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “I, along with Senator Gordon and most every other member of the Legislature, hear from residents every day about issues with NJ Transit service. While NJ Transit tends to only have public hearings in the middle of the day, our committee made it a goal from day one to hold hearings that the public could actually attend and give us their anecdotal accounting of the system and their experiences. It’s time they had a chance to have their voices heard.”

Senator Gordon and Assemblyman McKeon said they decided to hold the February 23 afternoon/evening hearing at 4 p.m. in the Bergen County Administration Building Freeholder Chambers in Hackensack because it is on the Pascack Valley Line, where a young mother was killed and dozens of passengers were injured when a New Jersey Transit train traveling at an unsafe speed slammed into a passenger platform at the Hoboken Train Station in September.

“The safety of the public is not up for compromise. Between train breakdowns, bus accidents and other service interruptions, it’s clear that NJ Transit has a long way to go to get back to being the transit system of example for the rest of the nation,” McKeon said. “My partner Senator Gordon and I are committed to putting NJ Transit on a path to being the transit system our residents deserve.”

“New Jersey Transit commuters should expect safe, reliable transportation service at an affordable price,” Senator Gordon said. “But last July’s 9 percent fare hike was followed by a week of midsummer delays due to tunnel problems, the fatal crash of NJ Transit Train #1618 in late September, and a series of revelations about ongoing maintenance problems. The purpose of this hearing is to get testimony not only from transportation experts, but in particular from commuters who see the problems at New Jersey Transit firsthand every day.”