NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — NJ TRANSIT riders have shown time and time again they can’t catch a break. The agency has been scrapping service all summer long, but says it has an explanation.

Commuter frustration may have been at an all-time high Monday, with train after train cancelled due to what NJ TRANSIT called “operational issues.”

So what’s the story?

NJ TRANSIT wouldn’t go on camera to discuss the rush hour issue, but blamed Monday’s “annulments,” as they called them, on higher than anticipated engineer absences as well as federally mandated positive train control installation.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Sources say only one to two engineers a day are pulled for testing, so something just doesn’t add up. Transportation expert Janna Chernetz blames it on a lack of proper funding, even under Governor Phil Murphy who made fixing the agency a cornerstone of his campaign.

“NJ TRANSIT has to be able to pay the engineers and pay management competitive salaries,” said Chernetz. “That’s also due to a lack of adequate funding.”

Trains are unable to run without engineers, many of whom with experience left NJ TRANSIT to work for Metro North and Amtrak who both pay as much as $10 more an hour than at NJ TRANSIT. Sources tell CBS2 many engineers are now working overtime on one of their rest days to make up for the shortage, but during the summer months vacation can be more appealing than overtime.

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