HOBOKEN — As part of a series of events leading up to his inauguration, Gov.-elect Phil Murphy took a ride on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Jersey City this morning, highlighting inefficiencies of the state public transit system he’s previously called a “national disgrace.”
Murphy started off outside of City Hall, joined by his family and a number of public officials, including new Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Freeholder Anthony Romano, calling the day “a big transit day.”
“As our infrastructure goes, so goes the state,” he said, adding New Jersey is the fourth smallest state geographically, and the densest state, in the country. “We’ve got to get transit right. We have not gotten it right.”
He visited a local book store before heading to the Hoboken Terminal, hopping on a train to Jersey City while speaking to local commuters.
Meeting residents all across the state today, talking about what we need to do to fix transit. #NewDayNJ pic.twitter.com/uaHzxqxbp0
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) January 13, 2018
“Mass transit is not optional; it’s pass or fail,” he told reporters aboard the light rail. “Getting that right is a huge priority for us and it’s not where it needs to be.”
Murphy made his first step in shaking up the NJ Transit system earlier this week, asking for the resignation of a number of senior staff members within the agency.
And in December, he introduced former Turnpike Authority Executive Director Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti as state Department of Transportation commissioner, and as chairwoman of the boards of NJ Transit, the Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority.
He offered no immediate solutions to the public transportation system — only telling reporters that “from the outside looking in, there seems to be a lot of untapped potential.”
“We need new leadership, we need to get (NJ Transit’s) vision and strategy set — get an assessment of where the deficiencies are (and) get the commuter experience back to where it used to be and needs to be again,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”
When asked if he had an estimate of when commuters would see some improvements, he said that it’s “hard to tell until we get there.”
“We’re not in there yet… try as you might through the transition to get the information you need — we’ve gotten a lot, but we just can’t tell until we’re in there.”
He stopped off at the Jersey Avenue Light Rail station and visited the packed Brownstone Diner on Jersey Avenue and Grand Street, meeting with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and a number of other Hudson County officials.
He will spend the rest of the day traveling parts of the state via the transit system, meeting public officials in Union City and North Bergen, among other towns.
He will be sworn into office as New Jersey’s 56th governor in Trenton on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
Corey W. McDonald may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @coreymacc. Find The Jersey Journal on…