January 21, 2018
A few days before Phil Murphy took the oath of office as 56th Governor of New Jersey, he took a tour of the Hudson Bergen Light rail, starting out in Hoboken for a the ride through Jersey City along the waterfront to Jersey Avenue.
He talked with passengers and got a snap shot of what he thought some of the issues were with NJ Transit.
But in some ways, it was a fiction, because he didn't have to stand at the Bergenline Avenue Station to hear unmoved transit workers telling riders they would have to find another way to work or school because the elevators didn't work that day or hear how a shuttle bus would come, but never did, nor have to throw away the tickets passengers just paid for and validated because they could not be transferred to the public buses each was forced to take.
Murphy reportedly met with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop the Brownstone Diner, once called the second city hall, from when Fulop was still a councilman and held meetings there, and from there Murphy went via public transportation to North Bergen and Union City, meeting public officials there as well. But he did not have to put up with the sometimes rude drivers who would not respond to how much fair is needed to go from Journal square to 88th Street nor did he have to get put off a bus with a shout when by a driver telling people this is the last stop, or forced to stand in the cold at the Hoboken bus terminal while a driver sat in a warm bus a few feet away with the doors closed waiting for when the schedule said he should start.
If Murphy took a bus at all, all the buses arrived on time, not like the buses that travel to and from Bayonne, which often arrive late, and sometimes two at a time, with one so overcrowded people spill out the front and rear doors at each stop, while the other almost empty bus passes passengers by. Nor did Murphy take those New York City bound buses that are so overcrowded during rush hour coming out of Bergen County, Hudson County residents are forced to drive north to catch them at an earlier stop so they can even get on board.
No doubt, all the signs on the light rail stations worked telling him when the next train would arrive; his train door always opened; his train car did not uncouple in some remote part of the rail line between Liberty State Park and Bayonne, dumping passengers onto cold platforms to wait for another train to arrive.
This train trip, of course, highlighted his new aggressive stands against an agency he called “a disgrace,” as he asked most of the top officials to resign in the days before he actually got sworn in as governor, after which he might start to rebuild the troubled agency from scratch, even halting the proposed Union Dry Dock takeover being rushed through under the previous governor against the objections of local officials.
Whether or not this change will make the trains run on time may well determine if his administration can fulfill this and other promises he's made going into office.