NJ Transit chief promises safety enhancements on accident-plagued system

A New Jersey Transit train plowed into the  Hoboken Terminal in September

A New Jersey Transit train plowed into the Hoboken Terminal in September

The executive director of New Jersey Transit admitted Friday that the system has a higher number of train accidents than other commuter rail lines.

Many of those incidents are related to rail-yard switches and human error, Steven Santoro told lawmakers during a hearing spurred by a fatal crash at the Hoboken terminal in September.

“We’re analyzing employees’ behavior, we’re conducting a safety pilot program, and we’re investing in new equipment,” he said. “Other measures include the continuing installation of inward and outward facing cameras on our rail equipment.”

Santoro, who said New Jersey Transit intends to hire more workers to help improve safety, said he is stymied by a law that requires candidates to live in New Jersey, making it tough to find applicants with specialized skills.

“I personally experienced not being able to hire a couple of very qualified people who lived on the borders of New York who are willing to come to work for New Jersey Transit and didn’t want to move,” he said. “So we going to aggressively pursue waivers that are allowed under the residency law for key positions.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Help us get to 100% of our membership goal to support the reporters covering our region, the producers bringing you great local programs and the educators who teach all our children.