New Jersey Transit on schedule to meet U.S. deadline for safety upgrade

This Oct. 1

This Oct. 1

The chairman of New Jersey Transit said Friday the agency is making efforts to improve safety.

At a hearing, Richard Hammer told New Jersey lawmakers he could not discuss the potential causes of last month’s fatal train crash in Hoboken until the National Transportation Safety Board completes its investigation.

He did say New Jersey Transit will meet the 21018 U.S. deadline to implement new technology that can prevent accidents by slowing and stopping trains.

“Next year, we will have our positive-train-control test track segment up and running on six miles of the Morris and Essex line,” he said. “Successful testing will lead to a full strategic rollout of positive train control on the full New Jersey Transit system.”

Questioned about reports that New Jersey Transit has a higher accident rate than other commuter railroads, Hammer said rail yard incidents inflate the numbers.

“It’s held against us that we’re reporting more things. New Jersey Transit basically accounts for all that goes on,” he said. “We’re very open. We don’t just follow the minimum protocols.”

Hammer said the agency and it has the capital and operating resources to fulfill its mission.

“Sitting here today there is no discussions or any thought of a fare increase. I don’t have specifics that tell me that there’s a certain service reduction that’s being looked at or not being looked at,” he said. “There’s none that I am aware of.”

Assembly Judiciary Committee Chairman John McKeon said lawmakers will hold more hearings on the safety of New Jersey Transit’s system.

“I’m not — and I don’t think the public and the riding public particularly should be — in a panic. I think that they’re doing the best that they can, but it’s not good enough at this point,” he said. “And we’re going to be assured whether it’s resources whether it’s a better management team or a different approach that the future will be assured for commuters.”

McKeon, D-Essex, said the failure of New Jersey Transit’s executive director and his staff to show up at the hearing was disrespectful.

“We’re not to be trifled with and our subpoena power will be used judiciously.” he said. “This is about doing right by the state and about the future, but it’s not a good start.”

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