Gov. Phil Murphy met Thursday with New Jersey Transit employees who are training to become train conductors, locomotive engineers and bus operators at the Ferry Street training facility in Newark.
“Replenishing NJ Transit’s workforce is a critical component of improving the customer experience for the nearly one million New Jerseyans who rely on NJ Transit every day,” Murphy said in a statement. “Investing in hundreds of newly trained locomotive engineers and bus operators represent our commitment to improving safety, service, and reliability for New Jersey commuters and will put NJ Transit on a positive path moving forward.”
In 2018, Transit launched a major marketing and recruitment effort to fill critical positions in the agency, particularly locomotive engineers and bus operators. More than 4,000 applications were received for locomotive engineering positions with 102 trainees hired, Murphy said.
For the first time in its history, Transit has six locomotive training classes running concurrently, Murphy said. Five of those classes began in 2018 and one began in 2017.
In further support of this workforce replenishment effort, Transit debuted its new accelerated locomotive engineer training class in October 2018 with 14 assistant conductors learning to become engineers. The accelerated program leverages the existing railroad knowledge that the assistant conductors have to reduce their training time from 20 months to about 12 months. The program fulfills the agency’s commitment to streamlining the locomotive engineer training process, while still ensuring compliance with Federal Railroad Administration requirements.
Throughout 2018, Transit held open houses to test bus operator candidates on the spot and make tentative offers. As an incentive, the agency offered a $6,000 sign-on bonus to any applicant already possessing a commercial drivers’ A or B license with a passenger endorsement and air brakes.
Transit hired 386 new bus operators after more than 8,000 applicants expressed interest.