NJ Transit Commute Chaos: "An Incompetence I've Never Seen"

NJ Transit Commute Chaos: "An Incompetence I've Never Seen"

The New Jersey Transit suffered another major delay on Friday, upsetting thousands of commuters and causing problems for a week that would mark the descent from one of the country 's best commuter railways into one of the country' s most troubled states and pressure on the country Governor, who had pressurized the governor, symbolized revival of the railroad a priority after taking office this year.

In the morning, an Amtrak car was derailed in one of two single-lane tunnels under the Hudson River between Pennsylvania Station and New Jersey, officials said. No injuries were reported but the impact on commuting was significant.

Amtrak said there would be delays of up to an hour for the commuter trains that share Penn Station with Amtrak.

For the drivers of New Jersey Transit, the country's second busiest railroad station, this has become a well-known refrain, and this week's particularly bleak series has increased political influence on Gov. Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat who called the transit system "national shame" when he ran for governor last year.

After inheriting a system that had gone through years of disinvestment and poor management, Mr. Murphy vowed to reverse things. "Governor Murphy knows that nothing is more important to rebuilding the economy of New Jersey than turning around New Jersey Transit, and he remains fully committed," said Mr. Murphy spokesman Dan Bryan.

But many drivers say the railroad is as unreliable as never before.

The derailment meant that the week ended as it began, and the commuters of New Jersey Transit suffered:

• On Monday, a shortage of engineers forced the cancellation of a train from Manhattan. His passengers crowded into a later train.

This train crashed on a bridge near Newark, and the narrow passengers stayed in dark cars for more than an hour without air conditioning.

• The next day a balky Swing bridge, over 100 years old, caused train delays in the morning.

The bridge repeated this stunt later in the day, resulting in delays that fell during the rush hour of the drive home.

• On Wednesday evening, a train from New Jersey Transit briefly came to a halt as he left Penn Station, blocking one of the tracks into the suburbs and annoying parents who rushed home to take children away for Halloween.

One of those frustrated parents, Dave Kass, cited the delays on three consecutive days as "Trifecta" of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak failures that own and operate Penn Station, the swing bridge, and the remaining routes between Manhattan and Pennsylvania Station in Newark.

Gary Leon, who has been commuting to Manhattan by train from central New Jersey for 36 years, said he could not recall a time when service was so unreliable.

"What has changed in the last two years, in my opinion, was just a level of incompetence I've never seen before," said Mr. Leon.

New Jersey Transit also continues to frustrate its customers, having twice canceled the service twice this year because they could not provide enough engineers and equipment to meet their schedule.

On the track where Mr. Leon drives, the Raritan Valley Line departs, the train canceled the same train, the 18:33 clock. Departure from Pennsylvania Station in Newark, three days in a row: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr. Kean said he was worried that the decline of New Jersey Transit would hurt the state's economy, which would cause people to vote for New York or Connecticut if they were looking for suburban homes in the region.

"It's already having an impact on the state economy," he said. "If your transportation infrastructure is insecure, it makes a difference when a person tries to decide where to find their family."

Mr. Bryan accepted Mr. Kean's criticism.

"Due to years of inadequate investment and mismanagement," Bryan Bryan said in a statement, "in the years Senator Kean has been silent, New Jersey Transit has come a long way to becoming a world-class transportation agency."

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