POLITICS & GOVERNMENT

Gov. Murphy pushes to replace Newark Airport monorail

BY Michael Aron, Chief Political Correspondent |

The AirTrain is a crucial part of the infrastructure at Newark Airport. Gov. Murphy took it to get to this press conference and it stalled twice.

“It is the reason we’re late today,” Murphy said.

The governor said $400 million would patch it up for another decade, but he’d prefer spending $2.1 billion and create a whole new system.

“This system first opened in 1996 and is now nearing the end of its useful life. So a simple thought, let’s not waste money keeping it on life support. Let’s invest in a modern and reliable AirTrain,” Murphy said.

The system breaks down too often, especially in the cold, pointed out the governor. He added that just patching it up isn’t fair to the airline passengers who depend on it.

“Eleven million riders a year on this system. They deserve more than a bubble gum and duct tape approach to making their flights,” said Murphy.

Murphy urged the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the regions three major airports, to find new ways to self-fund the needed upgrade.

Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said the agency is committed to creating world class airports.

“Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. Every single consumer survey puts our airports at the absolute bottom of the survey,” said Cotton.

Port Authority Board Chairman Kevin O’Toole said a new Terminal A, costing $2.7 billion, and a new rental car hub are signs of new vitality at the agency.

“Look across the way right there. Look at the iron workers out there in 10 degree weather. That is symbolic of what is going on at the Port Authority, working hard, turning around the image and the infrastructure in this region,” O’Toole said.

On other topics, Murphy dodged a couple of questions about the sexual assault case that continues to swirl around his administration.

“I apologize I’m gonna give the same answer I’ve given the past couple of weeks—I’ve got nothing new to add on this.”

He said the minimum wage deal he announced last Thursday should pass in the Legislature this month, “I’m looking forward. I’ve got the pen right here ready to go.”

Murphy’s still hoping to pass a marijuana legalization bill, despite growing misgivings within the ranks.

“We have another leadership meeting coming up. I still believe we can make progress on this,” he said.

A $400 million upgrade to the AirTrain at Newark Airport still needs the approval of the Port Authority board and of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New Jersey’s governor laid out the case for it today.