HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Commuters were recently given a chance to sound off about their issues with NJ TRANSIT.
Lawmakers are looking to improve service and upgrade one of the busiest transit hubs in the Garden State. On Thursday, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas found out what that could mean for commuters.
“There are too many delays. There’s too many crowded trains, not enough room, not enough cars,” said Katrina Eichbrecht of Rutherford.
“All we want is like a Swiss watch — on time, predictable, generous schedule,” added commuter David Turner.
Mounting concerns from NJ TRANSIT commuters prompted the creation of a bi-partisan state Senate committee charged with fixing the system once and for all.
“Well, you can’t possibly ask commuters for any more money. We’re paying the highest costs in the area to start with and we have the poorest service,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said.
On Wednesday night, the Senate committee got an earful from commuters who gathered at the Hoboken Terminal for a public forum. It’s a space Sweeney said needs an overhaul, too.
“This train station is way underutilized. A developer could come in here and make a half a billion dollar investment and make millions and millions of dollars. This could be the next Penn Station,” Sweeney said.
Hoboken’s city leaders agreed that there’s an opportunity to make money. That’s why they’ve been considering plans that include creating more residential and retail space. However, Council President Jennifer Giattino said another transit hub better reflects their hopes.
“People now go to Grand Central not even to take the train. They go there to shop and to eat,” Giattino said. “I feel very much that our transit hub can be similar to that.”
But many of the more than 19,000 daily commuters don’t see the Hoboken Terminal as a destination.
“It’s a stop for me to get to my office or to my house,” commuter Thomas Ambrosio said.
Local leaders said they hope new development changes that. While the Senate committee expects to intervene, it’s not stopping Hoboken’s city council.
The Senate committee wants to present a comprehensive plan by February, just in time for budget discussions with Gov. Phil Murphy. It will also meet with NJ TRANSIT, and union officials.
While NJ TRANSIT said improvements to service have been made, it agrees more work still needs to be done.