NJ Transit Executive Director Veronique "Ronnie" Hakim opened by stating that she considers herself the company’s rider advocate, and recognized the dedication of transit advocates such as the Coalition in promoting the interests in passengers. She highlighted that in her own past experience as a bus commuter and parent, every morning meant going through a “risk assessment” of how much parenting time she could fit in and still make the bus. To that end, NJ Transit is working toward the goal of putting the most timely and accurate information available in the hands of riders.  She also brought up the issue of on-time performance statistics, acknowledging that the single number was often unrepresentative of riders’ experiences, and added that Rail Operations management is working on delivering station by station numbers.

Hakim expressed the view that NJ Transit needed to improve (and is actively working on improving) its relationship with partners such as the Port Authority, NY Waterway, and Amtrak. On the Port Authority front she mentioned an effort to eliminate a part of the holding pattern that buses that don’t have space available at PABT go into, which causes them to go a substantial distance away from the terminal before doubling back through city traffic. She also mentioned trying to build a taskforce of all the players whose decisions affect the flow of buses (such as the NYPD).

On the subject of Trans-Hudson mobility, she stated that all options are on the table, and that NJ Transit is doing what it can to help Amtrak with planning Gateway and the MTA with considering a possible extension of the 7 subway line to Secaucus. She also noted that she has been making an effort to get NY Waterway – a trans-Hudson link that is running at under 25% of its capacity – to promote itself in order to take a greater share of the riders crossing the “[Hudson] Ocean” (echoing a joke one of our members had made earlier).

Her comments on New York improvements were threefold: first, NJ Transit is actively participating in the Northeast Corridor Raceway project of improvements that Amtrak is making between Trenton and New Brunswick. She acknowledged that NJ Transit’s main interests were further north (i.e. the part of the line that all New York bound trains merge into), but felt that investment here could still benefit from a reduced number of late trains – both NJ Transit and Amtrak – that cause substantial delays when they get to New York. She also stated that NJ Transit had a vested interest in ensuring that the process was being expedited as much as possible given the disruption its construction is causing at Princeton Junction and Hamilton. Second, she highlighted an effort to get more timely track assignment information from Amtrak’s New York Penn dispatcher. Third, NJ Transit now has 6 customer service employees on the 7th avenue concourse (the NJ Transit part of the station) whose duties include ensuring the escalators are operating in the right direction.

 

I think I speak for the entire Coalition in expressing our hope that the efforts at improving NJ Transit service for all its riders continue, and that transit management continues to engage us actively as representatives for and of their stakeholders, the riding public.