NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Commuters are getting an update on NJ TRANSIT‘s plan to end delays, congestion and cancellations that have become nearly daily headaches for riders.
Gov. Phil Murphy first ordered the audit of the transit agency back in January.
Murphy announced the results at the NJ TRANSIT station in Metuchen.
There were plenty of exhaust fumes from NJ TRANSIT riders prior to Murphy’s announcement, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“My commute into the city from Metuchen was three hours,” said Metuchen resident Tom Lombardi.
Commuters at the train station were some of the latest casualties of what many consider a failing system. On Monday, there was no train during rush hour for an hour and a half, Burrell reported.
“Dangerous conditions. People overflowing the platform. I actually went home. I couldn’t get to work. No way to run a railroad. It really isn’t,” said commuter Tom Albi.
“We knew we needed to do more than just, as they say, pop the hood, change a couple of spark plugs and expect the car to run as new. We knew we need to pull out the engine, break it down, and assess it piece by piece,” Murphy said. “This audit is what will allow us to begin rebuilding NJ TRANSIT and restore faith in its operations.”
The audit revealed a “broken operational chain of command,” Murphy said.
“The five top areas that they’ve identified for us to review are organizational structure, customer experience, procurement, personnel recruitment and the operating capital funding sources. These are not new to anyone who has heard us speak over the last several months,” said NJ TRANSIT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
Murphy said his administration will act on the audit’s findings.
Transit officials say they’ve already begun making changes, with new leadership, more funding, and new focus on a communications strategy. After reviewing the report, they say they will also take steps to make staying with the agency more attractive for employees by offering sign-on bonuses for conductors and bus drivers.
The plan also to create a so-called “central war room” for customer communication.
“We are not going to let this audit collect dust,” Murphy said.
“This is fixable. This is within our grasp. And it is within our grasp in a reasonable amount of time,” he added. “We will get there.”
Regardless of what officials promise, many riders remain skeptical, believing that what the system really needs is an overhaul and better accountability.
“Fix it,” said commuter Steve Clarkson.
“We’ve got to do better. We’ve got to do better,” said commuter Ashley Scott.
The 179-page audit describes NJ TRANSIT as plagued by top-heavy management, low morale, a lack of funding and little or no strategic planning.
The audit recommends restructuring management and operating NJ Transit more like a business and less like a government agency. It also urges creating an office of strategic planning and an office dedicated to enhancing the value of NJ Transit’s more than $5 billion in assets.
Transit officials say a lot of the suggestions in the audit are obvious issues that they already knew about, but now that it has been released they say they will be doubling down on their efforts to fix it.
Murphy originally ordered the audit just six days after he was inaugurated in January. Back then, he said he expected the audit would take about three months to be completed. The results are finally coming in 10 months into his term.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)