New Jersey Transit to hire staff to improve service

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that New Jersey Transit would not hike fares in 2019. Many riders say NJ Transit hasn't been delivering.

A day after announcing in his proposed budget that NJ Transit would get $242 million more to improve rail and bus service, Murphy told commuters this time it won't be coming out of their pocket.

"We must earn back the trust of the commuting public and we do that by being responsible stewards of the public's trust and their dollars," Murphy said at the Board of Directors meeting. He told members to help fix the transit system now that they have the resources.

"I'm asking you, the board, executive management team, and every employee here at NJ Transit to do things better, smarter, and more efficiently," Murphy said.

Fares have increased 31 percent since 2010, according to NJ Transit, and 46 percent of the agency's operating budget is funded by passenger revenue.

"The only pumping in of money to NJ Transit for the past eight years has come from commuters," the governor said.

Executive Director Kevin Corbett said the agency needs more trained staff, which would help solve many of the problems. The agency plans to hire 40 new bus drivers, 12 trainmasters, railroad foremen, trainers, and compliance experts.

"We are below critical mass on staffing," Corbett said, adding that NJ Transit now has the resources in this budget to make sure the agency can deliver.