Peabody award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
NJ Transit Now Knows Where to Put Its Trains When a Storm Comes
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 12:19 PM
A year and a half after Sandy, NJ Transit finally knows where to put its trains in the event of a hurricane.
In October 2012, as Sandy bore down, the agency was caught flat-footed. It chose to store its trains in a swamp (a.k.a. the Meadows Maintenance Complex) with results that were both predictable and predicted: the yards flooded, a third of the fleet was destroyed, commuters were frustrated for months, and the tab came to $120 million.
As a WNYC/Record investigation found, NJ Transit had missed years of warnings about climate change planning. Its hurricane plan at the time was just 3 1/2 pages. It contained nuggets such as where to store snacks for workers, but the nation's third largest transit agency had no idea where to put its trains.
The new plan shows just how slight the old one was. Its 22 pages contain detailed instructions about where to put trains ("T-12/18 Hours: Move Hoboken equipment to Bergen Tunnel..."), the chain of command, transporting workers to make sure all of them are in the right place when the system shuts down, how to inspect equipment to get it up and running, and lots of other detail.
The plan "outlines the basic organizational structure and lines of authority under which Rail will operate in the event of an emergency or disaster of any level."