NJ Transit cancels 40 trains in 2 days — Murphy says it’s getting better
Despite the cancellation of at least 40 NJ Transit trains on Saturday and Sunday, Gov. Phil Murphy said things are getting better for riders.
A count by Townsquare Media of each line's Twitter account showed notices of 44 trains canceled, mostly on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, the Main Bergen Line and the Pascack Valley Line. All were canceled with the explanation "engineer availability."
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said that even with the recent graduation of new class of engineers, there is still a shortage of locomotive engineers.
"It's going to take some time to replenish," Snyder said. "It's an ongoing effort to rebuilding the force of our railroad engineers."
Snyder said NJ Transit notifies riders as soon as it becomes aware of an engineer being unavailable. "We apologize for all of our customers inconvenience this weekend," she said.
The governor at an appearance in Newark Monday said the agency has made great improvements in his 18 months in office, including the completion of a required PTC installation — a safety emergency braking system — and the establishment of six classes for new engineers.
"There's no question the data says it's getting better with a couple of caveats," Murphy said. "It's fine for me to say that but if it's your train that gets canceled you're not happy no matter how high our batting average is, and I don't blame you for being upset. I won't be satisfied until we bat 1.000."
The first of the classes, which takes 20 months to complete, has graduated, but Murphy said the full impact of the new engineers won't be felt until fall.
Snyder said eight of the 12 engineers who graduated in May are currently working and the other four will begin this week.
"You're still going to have higher outages in the summer than other times of the year. It's just the way the system works. The fact of the matter is we inherited a pool of engineers that the degrees of freedom (in staffing) had almost been eliminated. That will change. It is changing but it can't change overnight," the governor said.
Michael Symons contributed to this report.
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