NJ Transit isn’t improving. Let’s sell it. Now. | Rooney

NJ Transit isn’t improving. Let’s sell it. Now. | Rooney

By Matt Rooney

Did you see the New Jersey state audit of NJ Transit (click here) that dropped on Thursday, Save Jerseyans?

It’s grisly but it shouldn’t exactly surprise anyone either.

A few dozen bridges falling apart. Cascading train delays (thousands of them). Big-time wasted cash. Remember the $5 million NJ Transit spent on unoccupied office space?

“Virtually every aspect of New Jersey Transit’s rail operations, including poor on-time performance, problems with safety upgrades, and badly maintained infrastructure were laid bare in the State Auditor’s report,” said State Senator Tom Kean Jr. (R-21) who serves on both the Legislative Oversight Committee and the Senate Select Committee on New Jersey Transit. “As I’ve said repeatedly, rail commuters deserve improvement from New Jersey Transit, not more delays and excuses.”

Unsurprisingly, the Murphy Administration is still blaming Chris Christie but that’s a transparent cop out. In case anyone has been a coma for the last two years, you’re now on notice: the big man left office in January 2018. There’s also no reasonable expectation for things to be getting worse

“We’ve worked closely with commuters, local officials, and transportation advocates to hold New Jersey Transit accountable for the thousands of delays, canceled trains, and the unacceptable quality of rail service overall,” continued Kean. “Unfortunately, the State Auditor’s findings reinforce much of what we already know. New Jersey Transit isn’t doing enough to fix what’s wrong. New Jersey’s rail commuters deserve better.”

The real question: what does better look like?

Republicans are doing what they should: holding Murphy to account.

The next step: proposing a big, bold solution that voters can get behind in 2021.

“Privatization” shouldn’t be a dirty word. Selling the system’s assets would fill the state’s coffers. There’s no shortage of examples through the years – domestically and internationally – of public-private partnerships improving public transportation’s efficiency and cost.

“Cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo have rails and subways ruining efficiently, on-time and earning profits. The reason? Private companies run the rails,” our friend Bill Spadea explained back in 2015. “It’s time to get government out of transit. In 2007 the main train line in Tokyo between several major cities had an average delay of…18 seconds! Can you even imagine a New Jersey where train delays were measured in seconds? Only the efficiency and accountability of the free market can fix what ails NJ Transit. I wonder if there are any politicians in Trenton with the courage to propose such a long overdue solution?”

This is yet another situation where Republicans need to be bolder than they’ve been in the past.

Voters respond to dramatic solutions when they perceive a dramatic problem. “Dramatic” is one of the only non-four letter words that accurately describes the seemingly never-ending embarrassment that is our state’s public transportation system. Enough. Sell it.