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Lawmakers seek closer look into NJ Transit's safety, funding

An aerial view of the Hoboken crash site.
Photo – National Transportation Safety Board


A growing number of lawmakers are calling for more federal and state examinations of the safety record of New Jersey Transit, following the Sept. 29 train crash in Hoboken that killed one person and injured 100 others.

Yesterday, New Jersey state lawmakers voted to grant themselves subpoena power as they begin to look into the crash. And on Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) in a letter called on U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to investigate safety concerns as well as funding at the commuter railroad.

"Questions have been raised as to what role mismanagement of NJ Transit and underinvestment in New Jersey's rail infrastructure may have played in the derailment, as well as the role of positive train control (PTC) in preventing this derailment," the senators wrote.

Menendez and Booker specifically urged Foxx to determine "whether a lack of funding impaired the ability of the agency to address safety needs,” the letter stated.

"We would also like to understand whether any safety operations or projects may have been prevented by a lack of funding and what impact that had on the safety of the system," they wrote.

The senators also wanted to know more about progress NJ Transit has made in implementing PTC, and whether more needs to be done at the agency to meet the requirement. They also want Foxx to determine whether an exemption for PTC implementation at the Hoboken Terminal should be re-evaluated in light of the recent crash, as well as a 2011 Port Authority Trans Hudson train derailment at the terminal.

In a separate letter, the senators asked the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the federal agency tasked with investigating the Sept. 29 incident, to examine the role of "mismanagement and underinvestment" at NJ Transit in their investigation of the crash.

Also, last week the senators led a letter from the entire New Jersey congressional delegation to Foxx in support of NJ Transit's request for federal funding to advance PTC implementation along its rail lines.

Today, the New Jersey Legislative Oversight Committee will hold a hearing to address the transit agency's management, operations, safety and "prolonged delays" in PTC implementation, according to a press release issued by Booker's office.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/21/2016