New Jersey Transit's fiscal management and safety infrastructure will be scrutinized at New Jersey Senate hearings in the wake of the Sept. 29 Hoboken, N.J. train crash that killed one woman.
The hearings set for Oct. 21 will examine financial operations and safety problems of the nation's third-busiest public transportation system, including prolonged delays implementing "Positive Train Control" technology, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Legislative Oversight Committee Chairman Bob Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, announced Friday. Gordon said NJ Transit officials and representatives from other rail lines that have utilized the safety technology that has proven successful in preventing accidents. He emphasized that with a new funding agreement now in place for New Jersey's Transportation Trust Fund, NJ Transit should make new safety measures a priority,
"Last month's fatal NJ Transit train crash in Hoboken and the fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia last year underscored the need to expeditiously implement Positive Train Control technology on all passenger and freight rail systems," said Gordon in a statement. "Now that a new Transportation Trust Fund is in place, we need to ensure that NJ Transit moves quickly to install critical safety controls designed to prevent high-speed crashes."
The NJ Transit press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The agency is facing a $57 million budget deficit. It is also tasked with finding a way to pay for its share of planned Gateway Tunnel rail project connecting New Jersey to Manhattan. It hiked fares 9% last year to address a $56 million budget gap.
NJ Transit promoted its longtime head of capital projects, Steven Santoro, to be its new executive director on Oct. 13 to replace Veronique Hakim, who departed to become president of New York City Transit last December. Dennis Martin, NJ Transit's vice president and general manager, worked as the agency's interim executive director during the nearly year-long search process.