New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is counting on a hiring push to help alleviate overcrowding and on-time problems for New Jersey Transit’s buses.
Gov. Murphy announced Monday a plan to hire 40 more drivers, part of a broader effort to shore up an agency that has come under increasing criticism for its safety and reliability.
The new drivers will be deployed on several New York-bound routes in Bergen, Hudson and Union counties where overcrowding is especially problematic. Riders frequently post pictures from those and other routes on Twitter showing buses with packed aisles from front to back.
The driver positions start at roughly $17 per hour and pay as much as $28 per hour, and they will drive existing buses that often sit idle, NJ Transit officials said.
“We think folks can begin seeing improvements in the near term,” Gov. Murphy said.
Gov. Murphy and NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett called the plans “targeted relief.” They are part of the Democratic governor’s plan to overhaul NJ Transit, an agency he has called “a national disgrace.” Gov. Murphy’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year calls for an increase in NJ Transit’s state operating subsidy from $140.9 million to $382.5 million.
More people ride NJ Transit’s buses than ride trains, though rail woes generally get more attention due to the problems with aging infrastructure and the fight over the $13 million Gateway project to build a new tunnel into New York.
NJ Transit provided about 12 million passenger trips on buses in January, the most recent month for which data are available.
Several bus routes in northern and southern New Jersey also will be monitored closely for on-time performance. Those include buses from Woodbury and Bridgeton into Philadelphia; from Paterson and Rutherford into New York; and from Hackensack and North Bergen into Jersey City’s Journal Square.