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Former Official Says Port Authority Heading in Right Direction

2-6-14

The Port Authority is making some changes, creating a new reform commission and extensions to its rails. Alan Vorhees Transportation Control Founding Director and former Port Authority official Martin Robins told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he believes the Port Authority is heading in the right direction.

“I’m encouraged that the commissioners have taken the lead,” said Robins. “A number of the commissioners I think are very upstanding people who can do something, so I’m pleased that that’s happening but I don’t believe that it is the end of the process of reforming the Port Authority.”

Along with some of the actions that the Port Authority plans to do, Robins said that both legislatures and governors for New Jersey and New York need to make a new compact. Along with a new agreement, Robins said the the Port Authority needs to depoliticize.

Following the resignation of David Wildtstein, the Port Authority has decided to eliminate his former position — one that had been created for him. According to Robins, the former position is now a footnote in the evolution of the George Washington Bridge controversy.

“I think that there’s no question that it was probably a made-up job for purposes that only he, Bill Baroni and the governor really know; maybe David Samson as well,” Robins said.

Robins said that the biggest problem at the Port Authority is the job of deputy executive director, because of the way the job is structured. The deputy director does not report to the executive director, according to Robins, and the executive director is not allowed to take on responsibilities.

As a former Port Authority official and having worked with public transportation, Robins said that NJ Transit was put in a difficult position during Super Bowl XLVIII. According to Robins, NJ Transit had pressure from several sources and that officials had predicted a lower number of people using mass transit heading to and from the game.

After a similar situation during a U2 concert at the Meadowlands, Robins said that NJ Transit officials could have put their foot down and said how much they knew they could handle on the rail system.

Following the outcome of the Super Bowl, there could be more demand for mass transit at MetLife Stadium for major events, said Robins. But he said that NJ Transit will have to reconfigure services to better assist passengers at events such as the Super Bowl.