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Rail News: Labor

NJ Transit emphasizes employee training, Gov. Murphy says

Conductors are trained at NJ Transit’s training facility in Newark.
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Replenishing New Jersey Transit's workforce is key to improving the customer experience for nearly 1 million rail and bus riders daily, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said during a Jan. 17 visit to the agency's training facility in Newark.

The governor met with employees training to become locomotive engineers, conductors and bus operators.

"Investing in hundreds of newly trained locomotive engineers and bus operators represent our commitment to improving safety, service, and reliability for New Jersey commuters, and will put NJ Transit on a positive path moving forward," Murphy said, according to a press release issued by the governor's office.

Last year, the transit agency launched a major marketing and recruitment effort to fill critical positions, particularly locomotive engineers and bus operators. More than 4,000 applications were received for locomotive engineering positions and 102 trainees were hired, according to NJ Transit. For the first time in its history, the agency has six locomotive training classes underway concurrently, five of which began in 2018.

"By filling these critical positions, we continue moving NJ Transit back to its status of national prominence with a keen focus on an improved customer experience," said Kevin Corbett, the agency's executive director.

NJ Transit debuted a new accelerated locomotive engineer training class in October 2018 with 14 assistant conductors. The program leverages the assistant conductors' railroad knowledge to reduce training time from 20 months to about 12 months, NJ Transit officials said.

The accelerated program fulfills the agency's commitment to streamline the locomotive engineer training process, while still ensuring compliance with Federal Railroad Administration requirements, they said.