Facing growing anger from commuters over systemic and lengthy delays on New Jersey Transit trains, Gov. Chris Christie refused to answer a question on Thursday about the state’s rail service before he left for a campaign trip to Iowa.Asked by a New York Times reporter whether he cared about New Jersey Transit riders, Mr. Christie did not reply or acknowledge the question.Electrical problems under the Hudson River have caused three days of delays for commuters this week, raising fresh questions about the region’s languishing infrastructure and Mr. Christie’s move to abort plans for a new rail tunnel under the river. Critics have accused Mr. Christie of abandoning the tunnel partly to solve the state’s budget woes and to earn more credibility with fiscal conservatives as he prepared for a presidential run.Mr. Christie, along with state and local officials, spoke at a small gathering in front of the Spring Lake Fire Company No. 1 in Spring Lake, N.J., to announce a grant toward flood and storm resilience efforts in the area.As soon as the governor closed the event by thanking everyone for coming, he headed toward the firehouse while the audience applauded. Once the applause quieted down he was asked by a reporter, “Do you care about New Jersey Transit riders?” The governor did not respond or turn to see where the question had come from as he continued walking into the firehouse.For a campaign that is based on Mr. Christie’s penchant for candor, his silence on the issue is somewhat contradictory.
So much for the "Tell It Like It Is" tour.
And here's the clincher:
After three days of delays on NJ Transit, Monday - Wednesday, there are delays again this morning:
After a one-day reprieve, New Jersey Transit train riders are dealing with delays again this morning.
Trains into and out of New York Penn Station are running 30 minute behind schedule as of 7:20 a.m. due to power problems, NJ Transit said on its website and via Twitter.
Rail passes will be honored on NJ Transit and private buses as well as on PATH trains.
"We have a problem again with the overhead power system in the NY terminal area," said Craig Schulz, an Amtrak spokesman. "We"re restricted to operating three trains at a time through the Hudson River Tunnel, which will mean some delays (up to about 30 minutes) for Amtrak and NJT customers."
The overhead wire system on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor through New Jersey and into New York is about 80-years old. The cash starved railroad doesn't have the funds to replace aging wires and signals.
"Our engineering folks are working to isolate and rectify the problem as we speak," Schulz said.
Christie of course killed the ARC tunnel project when he became governor:
In 2009, Chris Christie’s predecessor broke ground on a fully funded, $8.7-billion project that would have created a new tunnel under the Hudson River to connect the commuter-rich suburbs of northern New Jersey with job-rich midtown Manhattan.
There were strong arguments in favor of the tunnel's necessity. The two existing rail tubes connecting north Jersey to Midtown were nearing capacity—they comprise the most serious bottleneck on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The corridor provides 260 million trips a year, and that number is growing.
"The importance of the connection to New York City to the state of New Jersey is almost impossible to overstate," said Tom Wright, executive director of the Regional Plan Association. "Literally the most important industry for the state of New Jersey is commuting to New York City."
But Christie, in an early assertion of his intention to redefine the relationship between New Jersey and New York, argued that the project was too risky and cancelled it, and redirected much of its funding to road repairs within his own state.
New York senator Chuck Schumer—who had worked to line up federal funding for the project which the region was now going to lose—called Christie's decision "one of the worst decisions that any governmental leader has made in the 20th century, or the 21st century."
If Amtrak’s century-old tunnels were decrepit and nearing capacity then, they’re in worse shape now.
Indeed they are.
As New Jersey residents trying to get to New York City all this week have discovered.
Want this kind of "truth-telling" for yourself, America?
Vote for Chris Christie for president.