State hearings held to better improve New Jersey Transit

New Jersey lawmakers are holding hearings to find ways to better improve New Jersey Transit.

The agency is dealing with funding issues, which led to what lawmakers say are "crappy commutes." The hearings are being held in the wake of a deadly crash involving a NJ Transit train in Hoboken earlier this year.

One of the issues the transit agency is having difficulties with is installing positive train control (PTC), a safety measure that helps keep trains from speeding. The system is not yet in place.

"New Jersey Transit problems run much deeper than the failure to implement positive train control on a timely basis," says state Sen. Bob Gordon.

Lawmakers on Tuesday questioned Amtrak's PTC expert George Hartman. Amtrak has already installed the system along the Northeast Corridor. Hartman says that New Jersey tracks are challenging for PTC.

"Down on the south end between New York and Philadelphia, and Philadelphia and Washington, the demographics of the railroad, the topography, there's quite a few curves, there's not a lot of tangent track," Hartman said.

Funding issues are also a problem. Experts testified that NJ Transit is the only transit agency that does not have its own dedicated tax.

Officials testified that the state's capital investment into NJ Transit has declined. Passenger fares account for more than half the agency's funding, which leads to more fare hikes.

The state committee will bring NJ Transit officials back for future meetings. They also want to invite the public to attend to get their input.

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