Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
Listeners: NJ Transit Needs Overhaul
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 04:00 AM
Following our story on how NJ Transit stumbled when it came to preparing for storm Sandy, you were pretty clear. You want better management, and better communication.
"Overhaul management on all levels," wrote Adrian DeVore on our Facebook page. "Take weather events seriously!" DeVore wanted better communications with riders, as did Steve Gorka, who urged NJ Transit to "display paper schedules and alternate bus info at stations. Not everyone has internet access."
Some of you criticized us for not slamming the MTA for building a new South Ferry station so deep below ground not long before Sandy, at a cost of $500 million -- which will cost even more to replace. The new station was completed just four years before Sandy -- the MTA's newest subway station. It used funds from the federal post-9/11 aid package. The MTA has pointed out that the decision to build that station was made in 2002, long before climate change adaptation had become part of transit planning.
We were also taken to task on our website by Mark_M for not acknowledging that "extensive damage to the rails and equipment throughout the system, totally unrelated to where the cars were stored," also was a cause of severe delays.
Evelyn McHugh wrote on NorthJersey.com, referring to the NJ Transit Hurricane plan -- 3 1/2 pages of black -- "That blacked out page isn't redacted. It's the entire NJ Transit plan - a blank page. The losses sustained, even in the light of the extent of the final track of the storm, is inexcusable and incompetent. The MTA had below grade service areas in flood zones that sustained a level of damage that was likely not directly predictable. NJT stored equipment in yards next to bodies of water in areas with a mean elevation that even a child might have seen was in peril, and they just LEFT it there. They can hide, claim it's a security issue, or whatever, but the facts and the final tally of loss are direct indicators of an incompetent and poorly run agency with no accountability, in their own eyes, to anyone."
Today's radio segment digs into NJ Transit's climate change planning. While NJ Transit did make efforts to get ready for intense storms and rising seas, no alarm bells were sounded inside the agency.
Even before that part of the segment aired, you had a lot to say on this issue.
"Unlike Gov Cuomo, Gov Christie has still never acknowledged Climate Change as the likely root cause of Hurricane Irene, the Halloween Blizzard, Hurricane Sandy and tornadoes and other bizarre weather almost never seen in New Jersey's history," wrote Orbit7er. "When Jim Weinstein gives the excuse that "NJ Transit" is different than the MTA he is totally correct! Because New York City CARES about its Green public transit whereas Gov Christie has only done cuts, fare hikes, the cancellation of the ARC project rather than rerouting it to Penn Station and Grand Central. Instead Gov Christie is wasting $7 Billion on widening the NJ Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway and other road widening projects while slashing Green public transit all over NJ."
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ, wrote of trying to get information from NJ's Department of Environmental Protection. "I filed an OPRA request with the NJ DEP based on NJ DEP Commissioner Martin's December 3, 2012 testimony to the Senate Budget Committee on DEP's planning and preparedness for Sandy. Martin repeatedly touted the DEP's plans...Here is DEP's basis for denial: 'The subject plans have not been finalized, are considered deliberative and confidential pursuant to N.J.S.A 47:1A-11. In addition, some components of the plans are confidential.'"
Keep the comments coming.