McKeon Requests NJ Transit Records on Work Schedules, Employee Fatigue in Light of FRA Review

Letter to Executive Director Santoro Follows Federal Regulators’ Concerns About Transit Safety

In response to news of potential work-hour violations at New Jersey Transit, Assemblyman John F. McKeon issued a letter to the corporation’s executive director Wednesday requesting data on work schedules, management of fatigue-related safety risks and timekeeping records.

McKeon’s letter to NJ Transit Executive Director Steven Santoro follows a Bloomberg News article stating that the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) review of a two-day sample of timekeeping records for certain NJ Transit engineers and on-board crew identified more than 200 instances of possible employee work schedule irregularities. The FRA has recommended penalties for the potential work-hour violations, which include altered duty logs and insufficient periods of rest between shifts, according to the article.

“We’re just a few months removed from a fatal train crash in Hoboken that was an eye-opener for commuters in New Jersey,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee. “The notion that sleep-deprived employees at New Jersey Transit may be endangering passengers on a regular basis is cause for alarm.”

Among the information McKeon has requested Santoro submit to the Assembly Judiciary Committee by Feb. 8 is the following:

  • Train conductor and engineer schedules from the last two years for employees who may be at risk of fatigue;
  • Fatigue mitigation tools in use for each employee, if applicable;
  • The method by which NJ Transit determines the work schedules of conductors and engineers;
  • Instances in the last two years that caused a conductor, engineer or other on-board crew member to work beyond scheduled hours;
  • Actions NJ Transit has taken to manage employee fatigue risks;
  • A description of how timekeeping records are stored; and
  • The frequency of internal audits of work-hour logs.

“The safety of NJ Transit passengers and employees alike hinges on the agency’s adherence to laws intended to ensure that rail crews are well-rested and alert while on the job. Promoting transparency and accountability by making sure accurate records are kept is a big part of that,” said McKeon. “I look forward to cooperating with Executive Director Santoro in an effort to further examine what’s wrong at NJ Transit and ultimately reform it on behalf of all who rely on our state’s public transportation network.”

The New Jersey Assembly Judiciary and Senate Legislative Oversight committees have been conducting investigatory hearings to gain a better understanding of New Jersey Transit’s safety record, management and budgetary constraints.

A copy of the letter is here.