New Jersey Transit Ignored Climate Change Warnings

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 10:16 AM

South Orange commuters waiting in line for a bus in the days after Sandy (Nancy Solomon)

New Jersey Transit commissioned a study on climate change. But the report didn't raise alarms, and when Sandy roared in, the nation's largest statewide transit agency was overwhelmed, leaving trains in low-lying areas and suffering $120 million in damage to a flooded fleet.

In the second part of our radio story on how NJ Transit Failed Sandy's Test, we dive into a comparison of how the New York's MTA prepared for climate change, and how NJ Transit prepared. After a 2007 storm which shut down a woefully unprepared MTA, New York's transit authority commissioned several studies, and developed a plan to move trains out of harms way during serious storms, which it concluded would become more frequent and more severe as a result of climate change. During Sandy, 19 of 8,000 MTA rail cars suffered water damage.

But while NJ Transit performed its own study, it was essentially a planning document, not an operations manual for how to respond to severe storms. And it specifically didn't look at where to put the trains during hurricane storm surges. The agency's executive director, James Weinstein, told a state assembly hearing "I confess I haven't studied" the climate change report.

All this was happening while the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, was putting the brakes on the state's participation in efforts to combat climate change, including shutting down that state's office of climate change and withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

We suggest you cozy up to the full narrative here.



Comments [5]

Who cares if Sandy was not even a hurricane, not a tropical storm driven by ocean heat and convection, but instead a storm of storms driven by merging low pressure systems and a high tide.
Who cares if the 18ft surge was equal to storm surges of the 1800's.
Who cares if global warming had NOTHING to do with Sandy.
Who cares if ocean levels in the NY area are climbing at that the same slow rate they have climbed for over 100 years and NOT accelerating.

NJ Transit was wrong by not considering HISTORICAL floods, not some yet to occur possibility.

May. 14 2013 07:45 PM

Next investigative story is Andrew Cuomo and LIPA? Probably not because it doesn't fit your political agenda. Was Christie's approval rate too high for you?

May. 14 2013 07:27 PM

Quite the Fundraising kickoff scoop...

May. 14 2013 05:59 PM

It's going to get more and more expensive to deal with Climate Change devastations. Leaders who continue to stick their heads in the sand must be held accountable for their failure to heed Scientific predictions. Sorry New Jerseyites, you'll be paying for yours leaders' misguided decisions.

May. 14 2013 03:56 PM
Raymon Marella from Jersey City

NJTransit CEO said he was noterfield directly by the weather bureal about the storm.

May. 14 2013 03:32 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.