Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean said years of work across multiple administrations has resulted in today’s announcement by Governor Murphy of weekday off-peak, one-seat-ride train service to Manhattan on NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line.
Following the announcement at the Westfield NJ Transit Station, Kean issued the following statement:
“Westfield and other municipalities along the Raritan Valley Line are commuter towns. Having safe, reliable rail service directly impacts the quality of life of of our residents. Convenience matters too. That’s why I have long fought for a one-seat ride to Manhattan that doesn’t require commuters to waste time switching trains as they travel to and from work each day. The hours saved by not having to switch trains is time that can be spent having breakfast with family in the morning. It can make it possible to get home in time for a child’s game in the evening.
“I’ve worked for years alongside the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition and our mayors to make a one-seat ride a reality. It’s often seemed like an uphill battle, but we never gave up. We fought to ensure that Governor Murphy and his predecessor understood that this initiative is of the greatest important to our towns along the line. Today’s announcement is a direct result of those efforts.
“Whenever a problem was thrown at us, we had a solution. When we were told there weren’t enough engineers to run the trains, I looked at the root cause, which led to my legislation eliminating the residency requirement that prevented us from recruiting qualified candidates from nearby rail systems.
“When we were told that Transit needed additional financial support to tackle critical maintenance issues, the Legislature provided additional State Budget funding that prevented fare increases. We passed a Senate Resolution that I sponsored urging Congress to permanently extend a federal tax credit for railroad track maintenance.
“As a member of the Legislative Oversight Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to represent the concerns of distressed riders who want a one-seat ride that is safe, reliable, and affordable. Over more than a dozen hearings in recent years, we held Transit’s feet to the fire to ensure that they’re using the tools we’ve provided to accomplish all that is expected of them.
“As a member of the newly established Senate Select Committee on NJ Transit, I’m committed to expanding our efforts to ensure that commuters get the service they deserve. Securing a one-seat ride represents an important accomplishment, but there is still much more work to do to address all of the lingering challenges that plague NJ Transit.”