Fourteen graduates of NJ TRANSIT’s latest Locomotive Engineer training class were recognized during a ceremony Thursday for finalizing their formal classroom training and passing the Northeast Operating Rules of Advisory Committee and physical characteristics exams.
The latest class – the fourth to graduate this year – raises NJ TRANSIT’S addition of new locomotive engineers to 127 since Governor Phil Murphy took office in 2018.
“This is a major accomplishment,” said Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr., Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.
“This next generation of engineers will help enhance this country’s transportation systems, which is an integral part of our daily lives, something many of us tend to forget. We are extremely thankful for the hard work these graduates have put in toward their education and anticipate their future contributions.”
The 14 engineer trainees will complete their field training and begin their final check rides later this month.
The trainees completed a rigorous 78-week long program and passed extensive testing, including a final exam of more than 800 questions.
Their addition brings NJ TRANSIT’s active roster of engineers to 404. A full roster consists of a minimum of 390 engineers.
Murphy, State Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, and NJ TRANSIT President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin S. Corbett recognized the latest graduation class of engineers.
“At the start of our Administration, we took over an NJ TRANSIT that was hobbled by years of dysfunction, underfunding, and a lack of strategic planning,” Murphy said.
“Four years later, NJ TRANSIT has 127 new locomotive engineers, completed PTC (Positive Train Control), and drastically improved metrics across the board. New Jersey commuters are benefitting every day from the reforms, revamps, and rebuilding that we have undertaken. I look forward to the future service of these dedicated engineers as part of a new era at NJ TRANSIT.”
NJ TRANSIT has graduated 11 classes of locomotive engineers since Murphy took office – more classes than had graduated in the previous five years of his administration combined.
“Since Governor Murphy took office in 2018, his administration has made it a priority to provide NJ TRANSIT with the necessary tools to ensure its customers arrive at their destinations safely and efficiently,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.
“We congratulate this current class for their commitment to NJ TRANSIT and its customers.”
Corbett praised the class for its ability to navigate the pandemic to graduate.
“This class began its instruction right at the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, and we very well could have suspended all locomotive engineer training at that time,” Corbett said.
“Instead, we stayed the course by quickly shifting a number of the training program’s elements online. As a result, today we have a full roster of locomotive engineers, and a full pipeline of trainees, providing a more reliable commute for our customers – just what our region needs as riders are returning to the system.”
The next locomotive engineer training class is set to graduate in April of 2022.
In addition to addressing the engineer shortage, NJ TRANSIT, under the leadership of Murphy’s administration, has made a host of improvements throughout the transportation system (visit www.njtransit.com/progress for details).
IMPROVING SERVICE, RELIABILITY & SAFETY
- FY2021 vs. FY2019 On-Time Performance – Improved for Bus, Rail & Light Rail Across the Board
- Rail improved from 90.0% in FY19 to 93.3% in FY21
- Bus improved from 91.3% in FY19 to 98.0% in FY21
- Light Rail improved from 96.6% in FY19 to 96.9% in FY21
- Rail cancellations decreased 15% in FY2021 vs FY2019
- Fully restored depleted ranks of locomotive engineers
- Hired more than 1,000 bus operators since 2018
- Achieved full certification for Positive Train Control (PTC) before the December 31, 2020 deadline
- Added and purchased new buses, multi-level rail cars and dual-mode locomotives – including the agency’s first eight electric buses
- Added, extended or provided enhanced bus service on 100 bus routes over the past two years
ENHANCING OUR CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
- Added numerous features to the NJ TRANSIT Mobile app, resulting in a 4.8/5 rating with over 89,000 reviews
- Introduced customized push notifications with service information
- Added “How Full Is My Ride?” feature to inform customers about crowding conditions on vehicles
- Launched “Arrival Alerts” to provide notifications when customers begin arriving at their destination
- Introduced a new “Map My Ride” feature to allow customers to track the locations of their buses and trains in real-time
- Launched NJT Rewards program for riders to earn points for their NJ TRANSIT ticket purchases, redeemable for offers from businesses throughout the state.
- Introduced the popular new FLEXPASS discounted ticketing option for customers whose commuting patterns have changed due to COVID-19
- Strengthened Access Link with launch of Access Link Online, Mobile App & Social Media Accounts for service information & updates
- Modernized fare collection systems, including rolling out handheld mobile ticket scanners on trains, new electronic ticket validators on buses, and new ticket vending machines
ADVANCING MAJOR CAPITAL PROJECTS
- More than $4 billion in capital projects underway or soon to enter procurements since 2018
- Awarded NJ TRANSIT’s largest ever construction contract for $1.6 billion to construct a new Portal North Bridge
- Awarded construction contract for new $600 million Raritan River Bridge which broke ground in September 2020.
- Advancing Walter Rand Transportation Center Improvement Project with commitment of $250 million investment
- Commenced $190 million upgrade to renovate and reimagine Newark Penn Station
- Advanced electric bus program with the charging infrastructure construction at Newton Avenue Garage in Camden
- Advancing new Northern Bus Garage construction, which will include the necessary charging infrastructure to support an all-electric bus fleet
- Made major capital investments in Trenton Transit Center, Lyndhurst Station, Elizabeth Station, Perth Amboy Station and others
SETTING A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
- Released NJT 2030, the agency’s first-ever 10-year Strategic Plan, and accompanying 5-year Capital Plan
- Unveiled roadmap to a 100% zero-emissions bus fleet by 2040
- Collaborated with Northeast Corridor Commission to develop CONNECT NEC 2035, a detailed plan for infrastructure investment covering 150 projects along the corridor
- Awarded the first contract for the Meadowlands Transitway “Innovation Challenge” project, improving reliability, frequency and capacity between Secaucus and the Meadowlands Complex.
- Commenced the NEWBUS Newark Bus Network Redesign Study to optimize the bus network for the greater Newark region to best serve the needs of customers, businesses and employers.
- Embraced Transit-Oriented Development to better serve New Jersey communities, including advancing projects in Jersey City, Somerville, Aberdeen-Matawan, Metropark, and others
RESPONDING TO COVID
- One of the first transit agencies in the country to begin disinfecting vehicles and major stations daily, before the first COVID case was identified in NJ
- Published Ride to Recovery: NJ TRANSIT’s COVID-19 Response & Path Forward, to document the actions taken by NJ TRANSIT as well as chart our path forward for the post-pandemic future
- Secured an estimated $4 billion in federal relief funding to maintain full service levels throughout the pandemic.
- Collaborated with regional transit agencies on the MASKFORCE program to assist with encouraging proper transit customer behaviors.
- Implemented VAXRIDE initiative to provide sponsored rides to vaccination appointments