NEWARK - As the National Transportation Safety Board continues its investigation into a deadly New Jersey Transit train crash in Hoboken, the agency is coming under fire for several recent incidents.
The Sept. 29 Hoboken crash killed a woman and injured more than 100 other people. Two people were killed in a NJ Transit bus crash in Newark a few weeks prior.
Much of NJ Transit’s infrastructure is old or cannot accommodate the amount of traffic. There is only one rail tunnel into New York City from New Jersey, leading many to worry that a disruption would be catastrophic.
The transit agency also recently had a fare hike and many passengers tell News 12 New Jersey that the trains and buses are often late.
“We are kind of stuck. There’s no alternative,” says Newark resident Shadi Ibrahim. “It’s the only thing for us here in New Jersey.”
Some say that part of NJ Transit’s problems could be tied to a lack of funding. The state cut expenditures by 90 percent, a decision led by Gov. Chris Christie.
But some changes are in the works. There are plans to fix the portal bridge and build a new rail tunnel into Manhattan.
NJ Transit officials announced Thursday that Steven Santoro has been named as the new executive director. Santoro has been with the agency for 16 years and previously served as the assistant executive director of capital planning and projects.
Some of New Jersey’s lawmakers say the biggest issue is to equip NJ Transit tracks with positive train control systems. A federal mandate stated all trains should have PTC systems, but the deadline was pushed back to 2018.
The train in Hoboken was traveling more than double the speed limit right before it crashed. Sen. Robert Menendez says PTC would have prevented a tragedy.
"No matter what [caused the train’s] speed to double, positive train control…would've stopped it in its tracks,” Menendez says.
NTSB officials say the train was badly damaged in the crash, which is hampering their investigation into what caused the accident.