In the wake of the fatal train crash at Hoboken on September 29, many speculated about how the crash could have been avoided. The New York Times, in an editorial the next day, focused on failure to install advanced safety technology, and particularly lack of support from New Jersey's government.  While the cause of the crash has not been determined, many speculate that an advanced safety technology called Positive Train Control (PTC) might have prevented NJ Transit Train 1614 from running through its bumper, crashing into the historic Hoboken Terminal, killing one bystander and injuring more than 100, mostly on board the packed rush hour train.

Congress mandated PTC in a 2008 law, with a 2015 deadline for its installation; but most railroads failed to meet the deadline and, facing threats that nationwide freight and passenger trains would be shut down, Congress extended the deadline three years. According to the Times editorial, "Commuter train systems like New Jersey's have struggled in large part because state and federal governments have not provided enough money to help them buy the necessary equipment and software." In the case of NJT, says the Times, none of its trains or routes was equipped with PTC by the end of June, and it will cost $225 million to complete the PTC installation.

In New Jersey, the Times says, one cause is the "squabbling" in Trenton over how to fund the state's transportation needs. Republican Gov. Chris Christie is at loggerheads with the Democrat-controlled legislature; the Governor is willing to increase the state's gas tax, one of the lowest in the  nation, but only if the Legislature agrees to decrease the state's sales tax, which legislative leaders say will blow a huge hole in the state's general budget. (Perhaps as a result of the Times editorial, state leaders reached agreement to end their impasse the same day. See above. - Ed.)

The Times points to "neglect and mismanagement of the mass transit system by Mr. Christie and other state leaders" which it said began long before the current gas tax standoff. Capital investment in the mass transit system fell 19% since 2002 even while ridership increased 20%. While train travel remains "incredibly safe," said the Times, reliability in New Jersey has suffered: the breakdown rate on NJT is four times that of Metro-North, and seven times that of the Long Island Rail Road, the other two suburban train operators in the New York area.