Murphy: New DOT head must fix 'national disgrace' NJ Transit

Posted: Updated:

Gov.-elect Phil Murphy says a primary goal of his newly appointed head of transportation is to fix embattled New Jersey Transit, which he called "a national disgrace."

Murphy on Wednesday announced Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti as his choice for transportation commissioner.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti spent the last six years as a top official in Florida's Transportation Department. Before that she served for more than 20 years at New Jersey's DOT, including nearly 12 years as deputy executive director.

Murphy says that NJ Transit needs to be rebuilt from the ground up and says that Gutierrez-Scaccetti can “shake [NJ Transit] up so that we can make it right again.”

New Jersey Transit has come under criticism for problems including equipment breakdowns and frequent delays.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti says that she will clean the agency up after years of defunding.

“What it’s going to take for this team is to really get in and sort through what has happened or not happened over 7 ½ years…it just means we have to make certain we know what our requirements are.”

Murphy pointed out that the costs on riders are 36 percent higher than they were eight years ago.

Commuters tell News 12 New Jersey that costs have been going up since Superstorm Sandy and all they want is to keep the costs down.

But this could prove difficult after an announcement by Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to fund the Gateway Rail Tunnel Project. The plan would raise fares 90 cents on NJ Transit riders beginning in 2020 to help pay for the tunnel into New York City.

There was no indication if Murphy will undo that agreement. But he says that NJ Transit is the state agency most in need of a makeover.

“Enough is enough. It’s time to not just clean the house, but knock it down and rebuild it,” he says.

Murphy officially takes office Jan. 16.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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