County Executive’s Corner: “Shape Up or Pay Up”

By County Executive Ed Day

New Jersey Transit is finally being held accountable for their poor service. Metro-North President Catherine Rinaldi told NJ Transit President Kevin Corbett last month in a letter that she intends to withhold 15% of the commuter rail’s monthly payments to NJ Transit until they restore two express trains on the Pascack Valley Line.

Metro-North started withholding 10% of the monthly subsidy they pay NJT in December of 2018. Increasing this by another 5% in January is a recognition of our commuters continued suffering and frustration and is an added push to NJT to restore our service sooner rather than later. It is as simple as this, if you do not provide the expected service it should come out of your bottom line, not our pockets.

I want to acknowledge both Metro-North and the MTA for heeding our calls in service to our New Jersey Transit beleaguered commuters and dropping the hammer on NJT to the tune of $3.4 million. We recently met with Metro-North President Cathy Rinaldi and MTA Chairman Patrick Foye on this and other issues facing Rockland County commuters.

We are currently working with staff from Metro-North to best determine how these funds should be used but we have every expectation that this money will specifically benefit our commuters who have been suffering because of these canceled express trains and sub-standard service.

Metro-North has said that they will work collaboratively with us and NJT to see if this money can be used to invest in transportation projects that would benefit Rockland County. NJT is currently running seven training classes for engineers; with their ranks bolstered there should be a reduction in canceled trains in 2020.

We are making progress and finally getting the MTA and Metro-North to back us up and I acknowledge that. And for those who are concerned this could worsen service know two things. Doing nothing will just encourage more disrespect and worse service to our commuters and this is a zero-sum game.

We are now finally not paying for service we are not getting and looking to re-invest those dollars into the Rockland & West of Hudson service. We will not let up on NJT, Metro-North and the MTA until they finally provide the service we deserve.