SUMMIT, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is ordering an audit of the state’s beleaguered transit agency.
Murphy signed the executive order calling for an audit of NJ TRANSIT alongside Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Monday at a rail station in Summit.
The review will be from top to bottom. Murphy wants an assessment of safety, hiring, culture and finance, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.
“We cannot continue with a system that is increased fares 36 percent over the past eight years, even as customer experience eroded,” Murphy said.
It also comes after an Associated Press report found NJ TRANSIT had more accidents and paid more in fines for safety violations than any other commuter railroad in the country over the previous five years.
The report came after a September 2016 train crash in Hoboken that killed a woman and injured more than 100 people.
Delays, congestion, and cancellations have become the new normal for what once was the model for railroads in the country.
Stephen Burkert, a union representative for NJ TRANSIT employees said where and how money is spent should be looked at closely.
“Governor Christie, he cut back on funding so now you cannot be competitive with wages, so people are going elsewhere,” he said.
A shortage of engineers over the summer during track work caused cancellations and more headaches.
Burkert said skilled workers are being cherry picked and paid better by other agencies in New York and Florida.
According to the executive order, in 2015 NJ TRANSIT had over 50 percent more mechanical breakdowns than the second-worst railroad. The same issues persist and are to blame for recent delays.
“We are over-crowded, short equipment, not running full trains, so if out of ten cars, you only use six or eight, it takes you longer at stations,” Burkert said.
Transportation expert Martin Robins said the problem started when Christie made patronage appointments, with some being unqualified for the job.
“There was also excellent procurement system at NJ TRANSIT. Something really broke down in procurement process, the audit will help us understand,” Robins said.
Monday’s order is the fourth Murphy signed since taking office.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)