Sweeney Statement on NJ Transit
TRENTON – Senate President Steve Sweeney issued the following statement today on NJ Transit:
“The NJ Transit service failures that have disrupted the lives of commuters in New Jersey require swift actions by the officials responsible for overseeing the operations of train services. There are remedies that can be implemented immediately to alleviate the crisis conditions that adversely impact train services just as there is a need for transit officials to focus on any additional actions needed to make sure these failures are not repeated.
“The administration already recognizes that the Employee Residency Review Committee has the power to grant waivers of the residency requirement for locomotive engineers, which will help address the severe shortage of operators that is having a near-crippling impact on services. We urge the committee to exercise that authority immediately. It is the most effective way to quickly put more engineers to work and to alleviate a shortage that has been a problem in the making for years and has now become acute. Training new engineers should be a planning priority, but we don’t have the luxury of waiting for new classes of trainees to become qualified to operate trains professionally and safely. We need them on the job as quickly as possible.
“The Senate held public hearings on NJ Transit followed by legislation introduced in January that highlighted the need for the residency exemption, but NJ Transit did not respond until yesterday when it sent a letter to the Review Committee. We urge the committee to take the actions needed and utilize the authority it already possesses by committing to granting the waivers that will allow qualified, out-of-state applicants to work as NJ Transit engineers so this problem is addressed immediately.
“And, the systemic problems at NJ Transit must also be solved. Its operations must be improved and reformed, its board needs to be strengthened and it needs to be more responsive to the needs of commuters.”