As strike deadline nears, New Jersey Transit readies fallback plan

 (AP File Photo/Mel Evans)

(AP File Photo/Mel Evans)

In anticipation of a looming rail strike, New Jersey Transit officials laid out a contingency plan Thursday as they offered a grim picture of the ripple effect a strike could have on the entire region.

Dennis Martin, interim director of NJ Transit, warned that the plan will accommodate only 38 percent of the more than 100,000 daily rail commuters.

“Make no mistake, our contingency service cannot replicate the railroad,” he said. “We will not be able to provide the level of service or the capacity that our rail service currently provides to our customers.”

NJ Transit transportation consultant Sam Schwartz, who said roads in the region will also feel the pain, urged carpooling and telecommuting when possible.

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“All of you know what the Lincoln Tunnel looks like in the morning or the Holland Tunnel in the morning … it is not a pretty picture,” he said. “Now imagine adding 10,000 more vehicles that will have a domino effect through the region.”

The plan, similar to one deployed after Hurricane Sandy, consists of running charter buses from five regional park-and-ride locations; operating only during peak weekday hours; and enhancing service on 30 NJ Transit bus routes.

About a dozen unions representing thousands of New Jersey Transit rail employees have authorized a strike at 12:01 a.m. on March 13 if a settlement isn’t reached. The primary issues are wage and health insurance increases and back pay. The unions have been working without a contract since 2011.

The two sides are scheduled to meet Friday before a national mediation board in Washington.


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