LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey’s governor-elect rode the rails Saturday.
Phil Murphy has been critical of New Jersey TRANSIT and is calling for major changes. But as CBS2’s Dave Carlin reported, some questioned the day of the week he picked and the kind of train he chose to ride.
The cracked and crumbling stairway from platform to parking lot at the Linden train station was just one long-neglected NJ TRANSIT problem the governor-elect saw firsthand on his town-to-town tour.
“Pretty unacceptable, isn’t it?” he told Carlin. “It’s unacceptable.”
“The one thing you got to get right is commuter rail, and we’ve not gotten it right,” he said.
Most of his rides were on light rail. Some riders asked – why not pick the packed trains on a weekday?
“When everyone’s commuting back and forth to the city,” said Max Tanner, of West Windsor. “That’s when he can see NJ TRANSIT at its heart.”
Murphy told Carlin, “I ride a lot of NJ TRANSIT, so I’ve seen it on weekdays plenty.”
“This happens to be the inaugural weekend. We’re doing it today to get to as many communities as possible,” he continued. “But we are very familiar with NJ TRANSIT – the good, the bad and the ugly.”
He said his Saturday tour succeeded in bringing him face-to-face with various city leaders and with residents on trains, in stations and even in crowded diners.
“Help is on the way,” he told commuters at Hoboken Terminal.
Murphy also walked through downtown Hoboken with Mayor and fellow Democrat Ravi Bhalla.
“We want to work together collaboratively to make sure we deliver the mission of government to provide mass transit services in an effective and cost-efficient manner,” Bhalla told WCBS 880’s Ethan Harp.
Steven Rodas, of Jersey City, said communication with riders could use improvement.
“I ended up grabbing a bus and getting to New York, you know, pretty late (for work),” he said.
Murphy said he knows what commuters really want is a more dependable system – big fixes, but not on their backs financially. He suggests new blood and different bosses will be part of the answer.
“We need to put the right leadership in and put the right priorities and vision in place,” he said.
Murphy also said it appears NJ TRANSIT has untapped assets and resources, including real estate that can be leased or better managed to help pay for overdue upgrades.