Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
Embattled NJ Transit Head Leaving
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 - 05:00 PM
Jim Weinstein, the embattled head of NJ Transit, will leave the agency by the end of this month.
In an email today, Governor Chris Christie announced Weinstein would be replaced by Veronique (Ronnie) Hakim, who currently heads the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
“Both Ronnie and Joe have been effective, capable professionals who focus relentlessly on getting the job done for our state. I want to thank each of them for their willingness to continue to serve the people of New Jersey in these new roles,” said Christie. “I also want to thank Jim Weinstein for his dedication and service through our entire first term together. I wish him well in the next phase of his career.”
Christie's email said the change continued "the transition to a second-term leadership for the Administration." Hakim would be in place before March 1, Christie said.
In recent months, Weinstein's leadership has come under increasing fire. During Sandy, NJ Transit stored hundreds of rail cars in flood-prone areas, leading to $120 million in damage — not to mention months of frustrating delays for commuters. And earlier this month, NJ Transit was criticized for its Super Bowl performance, when its rail line to the Meadowlands was overwhelmed by thousands more passengers than either the agency or the NFL expected.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been critical of Weinstein's leadership, applauded the change — but offered a warning.
"I think Ronnie Hakim has had a successful tenure at the Turnpike and is well regarded," he said. "I think she'll make an excellent executive director. My word of caution: nobody can run that agency without the necessary support from the state budget."