NJ Transit blames Beyonce, Christie and weather for Friday delays
NEWARK — The late-running Beyonce/Jay Z concert at MetLife Stadium is largely to blame for at least 16 canceled NJ Transit trains during Friday morning's commute.
Powerful thunderstorms forced concertgoers to seek cover. The concert didn't start until 11 p.m. and ended after midnight.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said that the railroad is contractually obligated to provide rail service when attendance at MetLife Stadium is over 50,000.
"Due to inclement weather, last night’s concert started later than usual and ended very early this morning, forcing crews to work until close to 3:30 a.m. today. During this time, we safely transported more than 12,000 customers to MetLife Stadium and had to get them home as well. As a result, some of these crews did not have the required rest time to begin their scheduled shifts this morning," Snyder said.
The post-concert scramble added to the delays caused by the installation and testing of positive train control braking equipment and a higher-than-usual number of crew absences, according to Snyder.
Dozens of trains have been canceled this week as a result of the work. Gov. Phil Murphy, who is on vacation with his family in Italy this week, took heat back home after his Twitter account touted his administration's efforts to right the embattled transit agency.
On Friday, NJ Transit defended the pace of its brake installations and took a swipe at Murphy's predecessor.
Snyder said that NJ Transit's PTC project completion increased from 13 percent to 52 percent in the last three months. She also said that nine engineers are ready to join their roster of engineers upon graduation from their training program within the next week.
The statement also blamed the Christie administration's "failure to adequately fund NJ Transit" for the problems the railroad faces today and touted the effect of an increase in spending.
"What we can tell you is that Governor Murphy’s historic funding increase will provide the necessary resources to restore NJ Transit as a national leader in public transportation. For instance, we've made substantial progress on our PTC project and we're continuing to ramp up installation — in fact, we've made more progress in the last six months than was made over a number of years under the prior Administration."
"The governor's budget also allows us to staff other critical positions, like bus operators, and we're expanding our recruiting efforts to fill positions across the organization. It's going to take some time to undo nearly a decade of under-investing, but we're wholly committed to NJ Transit's success and already starting to see movement in the right direction.