NJ Transit to cut rail fares amid service disruptions for PTC installation

There's good news and bad news for rail commuters who use New Jersey Transit.
The good news is that fares will be cut 10 percent from November through January. But the bad news is that the fare cuts are to make up for additional service disruptions as NJ Transit seeks to meet a federal safety deadline.
Many trains have been canceled in the past few months to accommodate the installation of an emergency braking system called positive train control.
NJ Transit officials say that additional service disruptions are needed so the work is finished by the Dec. 31 deadline. Those changes are scheduled to go into effect on Oct. 14 and last through January.
Officials say that the agency will be reducing service by 18 trains a day. This will include NJ Transit’s busiest train line – the Northeast Corridor.
“On a national level, this is like the Apollo space program,” says NJ Transit executive director Kevin Corbett.
Corbett says that if the agency does not complete the PTC installation by the federal deadline, service could be shut down by the Federal Railroad Administration.
Corbett says that PTC is run through a communication between transponders built into the tracks and computers installed onboard the train.
“It passes the next signal on the track, that will send a thing to the mainframe saying ‘This train is going too fast,’ and it will override the engineer,” says Corbett. “Even if the engineer is going full throttle, it will automatically brake it. So you don’t want one train doing it and the next one not doing it.”
Crews will need to take trains out of service so that they can install antenna modules inside them.
Corbett says that when he came on as executive director earlier this year the PTC project was only 12 percent complete. He says that the services disruptions have to be done to meet the deadline, and says that last-minute cancellations will be kept to a minimum.
“It will be more predictable and more reliable, but the trains risk being more crowded because we’re cutting 18 trains out and we’re spreading those around,” he says.
More information about the service distributions can be found on the NJ Transit website.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.