Consultant MWWPR Could Be Just What Railroad Needs, But Some Say $250,000 Spent Could've Been Put To Better Use

CRANFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey Transit’s problems over the year have been blamed on a lack of funding. Now, the agency is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an outside consultant.

One of the major complaints from NJ TRANSIT riders is that the agency doesn’t properly communicate when trains are canceled or delayed.

nj transit Stronger Than The Storm Creators Hired To Help Beleaguered NJ TRANSIT Improve Communication With Riders

New Jersey Transit riders faced service changes for their commute on Oct. 15, 2018. (CBS2)

“It’s difficult at time because of cancellations on trains. No ability to anticipate when I am going to get where I need to be and that level of uncertainty has caused me to look at alternate ways to get into New York City,” Cranford resident Hugh Welsh told CBS2’s Meg Baker on Wednesday.

Enter outside consultant MWWPR, which was hired in September for a six-month period for $250,000.

Some passengers said that cash should be spent elsewhere.

“I think infrastructure is probably more important than hiring someone to teach them how to communicate,” Cranford resident Brenda Mason said.

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Others CBS2’s Baker spoke to said if they can better plan their lives, it’s worth every penny.

“If service better get places faster…,” one woman said.

“I think they ought to know how to communicate with me. They get enough of tax dollars already but if need to do that to be more effective then do it,” Welsh added.

MWWPR is the same company that created the controversial “Stronger than the Storm” commercials featuring then-Gov. Chris Christie. The campaign won an award for bringing people back to the shore after Superstorm Sandy, but was criticized for giving Christie publicity with federal dollars.

“I think if you hire the right leadership, they ought to be able to handle this, themselves, and if they cant new leadership,” Westfield resident Mark Shore said.

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Still to be determined is whether MWWPR’s work will be redundant. An audit ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy found communication as an area of weakness. A different consultant made several recommendations, including rethinking how NJ TRANSIT deals with commuters on social media.

NJ TRANSIT said MWWPR, which is based out of East Rutherford,will conduct a full analysis of existing communications organizational structure to improve the effectiveness, timeliness, consistency and quality of customer communications.