Study: Rail commuters experienced 5-hour delays 85 times in last 5 years

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Passengers traveling between New Jersey and New York have experienced rail delays of five hours or more about 17 times per year in recent years, according to a new study.

The review was conducted on behalf of New Jersey Transit and Amtrak. The study covered 2014 through 2018 and says the delays cost commuters almost 2,000 hours in extra transit time.

“It happens every day. You go out and you're playing, as I say ‘transit roulette,’ Am I getting there on time or am I not?” says Gateway Development Corporation chairman Jerry Zaro. “It's an intolerable way for people to have to live.”

The study's findings were released Monday by the overseers of the Gateway Tunnel Project, a multibillion-dollar project to build a second Hudson River rail tunnel and a new rail bridge over New Jersey's Hackensack River.

RELATED: Bill would create entity to push for Gateway rail tunnel funding 
RELATED: New Jersey lawmakers fight for Gateway Tunnel funding 

The study found that the delays were mostly caused by mechanical problems and aging infrastructure.

The $13.7 billion tunnel project has been stalled by disputes between New York and New Jersey and the federal government over how the cost will be divided up.

“I think this is too big a project. It must have federal support. But I think we are taking the steps in a bi-state, bipartisan way to make the first steps to getting this done,” says New Jersey state Sen. Loretta Weinberg.

But some says that the project is too big to get done.

I'm absolutely in favor of Gateway but I'm in favor of a Gateway that can be built. What they're proposing here - $30 billion - is not going to happen in my lifetime,” says former Long Island Railroad planner Joseph Clift.

Clift says that he has warned commissioners that building new tunnels and bridges without adding capacity won't help rail commuters.

“It's like having two two-lane highways that just drop back into a two-lane highway. You need extra track all the way to Midtown Direct,” he says.”

Gov. Phil Murphy and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo have called the Gateway project “the most urgently needed infrastructure project in the nation."

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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