Oct. 14 — The results of a federal safety audit of New Jersey Transit conducted prior to a fatal train crash in Hoboken, N.J., last month should be released immediately, according to top Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Committee ranking member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), railroad sub-panel ranking member Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) and Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) called for the Department of Transportation to take swift action to ensure the safe operation of NJ Transit. Along with publicly revealing findings from a federal audit that reportedly uncovered dozens of safety violations, the DOT should also release copies of any correspondence between the Federal Railroad Administration and NJ Transit since the beginning of the year, the lawmakers said in a letter sent Oct. 14.
“At this moment, there is an $86 billion backlog to bring our Nation’s public transit systems to a state of good repair,” the letter said. “The horrific tragedy in Hoboken and the deterioration of NJ Transit only underscore the need for increased investment in our transit systems.”
The lawmakers questioned the actions of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who they said pushed for the diversion of public transit funding to road-building projects. “Safety must be our number one priority, and that is something that we believe the Christie administration ignored,” they said.
There has been a 62 percent increase in NJ Transit accidents and incidents between 2010—when Christie took office—and 2015, compared to the previous five years, according to FRA data.
The FRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when or whether it would release the audit report.
NJ Transit is the nation's third-largest mass transit agency. It has been under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board since Sept. 29, when a train crashed into the Hoboken station, killing one person and injuring more than 100 passengers. The train was traveling at more than twice the legal speed limit when it ran through a barrier at the end of its track.
The NTSB released a preliminary report Oct. 13 showing the train's brakes were working at the time of the crash. Both House and Senate Democrats have said the incident illustrates the need for all commuter railroads to quickly install automatic braking technology known as positive train control.
Freight and passenger railroads must comply with a federal mandate to install PTC by Dec. 31, 2018.
NJ Transit is among a handful of major public transit agencies that have yet to begin installing PTC systems on commuter trains (See previous story, 10/05/16).
Following the Hoboken crash, the agency's board appointed a new executive director; it had functioned without one since 2015. But the board has yet to approve a proposed $2.1 billion operating budget for the fiscal year or address an estimated $46 million funding gap.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Beasley in Washington email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Heather Rothman at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2016 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)