Wednesday, August 10, 2011

NJ Transit Again Graces Commuters With Significant Delays

Apparently NJ Transit couldn't be held to its word after it said that it would be able to repair the "minor derailment" outside NY Penn Station in time for a normal morning rush hour.

Indeed, it had sent out alerts to riders as of around 4am claiming that there would be a normal commute, but yet alerts began being sent out as of 7am saying that delays would continue through the morning rush, and by the middle of the rush hour, the delays were reported at more than an hour. NJ Transit said that PATH would be cross honoring tickets, which meant that delays and larger than normal crowds flowed into PATH.

The delays are absolutely inexcusable. NJ Transit claimed that they had to wait until after 8pm last night to shut down the overhead catenary lines so that a crane could remove the second of two railcars that had derailed. Why wait? NJ Transit could carry out an investigation and shut down the overhead lines so that the cranes could have removed the train during the day yesterday. That wasn't done, so the delays persisted.

It turns out that this minor derailment wasn't so minor. The only thing minor about it was that there were thankfully no injuries and that the railcars remained upright. Everything else was a major headache for commuters throughout the entire region.

Now one has to wonder why NJ Transit sent out alerts saying that traffic had returned to normal and yet reverse course a few hours later when it was not completed with the repairs.

At the same time, where is Gov. Chris Christie to hold NJ Transit accountable for its woeful performance during a service disruption. For those who think that Christie's killing of the ARC Tunnel would somehow have prevented this problem, think again. The ARC Tunnel would not have been in place until the end of this decade at the earliest. That means that NJ Transit would have been building a major capital project it can't afford to actually operate and can't deal with a service disruption on its existing service without inconveniencing the maximum number of people possible.

The Legislature should be holding NJ Transit accountable as well. Where are calls for an investigation on that front? The Legislature helps set the budget and is charged with oversight, and yet there's no accountability from anyone.

That means that NJ Transit continues to lurch from one mess to another and commuters only recourse is to continue giving NJ Transit failing grades for service, especially during service disruptions.

So, if you're a NJ Transit commuter, go ahead and fill out the customer service survey and let them get an earful about just how badly they've screwed things up - even with higher fares and less service.

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