By Erin Delmore
“I said, ‘Aw man I’m going to be late,” said Newark resident Jaliyl Ali Lynn.
It’s a familiar refrain among New Jersey Transit riders.
“Delays are pretty common. Often for unexplained reasons, which is what gets frustrating,” said Bergen County resident Lewis Nelson.
“Sometimes it has issues where it’ll kind of just stop on the tracks,” said John Dwyer of Middletown.
Glynda Myers got stuck at Secaucus for nearly 30 minutes.
“You just sit there and you just wait and wait and wait until they decide to pull off. And we left and we still didn’t know what was going on. I had to jump off and get on another train eventually,” she said.
Ridership is up, but reliability is down on the heels of a threatened NJ Transit strike, that commuters feared would cripple the state’s transportation lifeline.
An analysis by NJ Advance Media shows that trains, buses and light rail vehicles operated by New Jersey Transit are breaking down more often.
Think of your car. The more miles you put on it, the more likely it is to give you a problem. Same goes for New Jersey Transit’s trains and buses. As the fleets age, they go fewer miles between breakdowns.
The NJ Advance Media analysis found that trains these days are only going about three-quarters of the distance they used to, just three years ago before breaking down.
That’s only about half as efficient as the Long Island Rail Road’s trains and a quarter as efficient as the MTA’s newest subway cars.
But NJ Transit outranks Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North when it comes to on-time performance, according to NorthJersey.com. Myers found the stats hard to swallow.
New Jersey Transit told us in a statement it reviews every delay daily and takes steps including fleet wide modification or component replacement to find potential failures before they result in breakdown.
Experts point to a chronically-underfunded system.
“There’s been a total of $6.5 billion transferred from the capital budget to meet operating needs since this process began in 1990,” said Tri-State Transportation Campaign Senior New Jersey Policy Analyst Janna Chernetz.
“I guess there have been a couple of occasions when you’re sitting there and your train should be here right now and it’s now and it’s a few minutes late. Of course that’s aggravating. I’m glad to hear that the contract dispute is resolved so no one has to worry about that,” said Congressman Scott Garrett.
Advocates say without long-term funding, there can be no long-term planning.