Another “challenging” summer could be in store for New Jersey Transit riders, Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday morning—despite staffing increases and the full installation of a federally mandated emergency braking system meant to alleviate the symptoms that had created commuting nightmares for riders.
But would that mean the third “Summer of Hell” in a row for commuters? “I hope not,” responded Murphy at an unrelated event in Neptune City late Monday morning.
“My guess is it’s going to be another challenging summer because not surprisingly in New Jersey when people take vacations it’s typically when their kids are out of school when the weather’s good, and that includes engineers and they have a right to do that,” Murphy said.
Last summer, riders of the statewide transit agency were hounded by delays and cancellations which stemmed from staffing shortages, equipment failures and entire swathes of routes taken offline to rush through the installation of the positive train control braking system before the Dec. 31 deadline.
Many engineers and train operators had simply taken off from work, which led to other agency staff working overtime to make up for the loss of any hands on deck, and staffing shortages ensued.
What followed was near-constant news coverage by outlets on daily commuting nightmares, as well as real-time social media venting by frustrated commuters.
Throughout, Murphy and NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett made several public appearances where they said the condition of the statewide agency was far worse than they imagined – pointing to eight years of “neglect” under the prior administration of Gov. Chris Christie.