Every now and then — or let’s be honest, rather regularly — stories come out about New Jersey Transit that remind us of just how inept the agency can be. Lately, seemingly everyone has escaped responsibility for leaving rolling stock in an area vulnerable to floods as a giant hurricane came in, and despite a $450 million repair bill, Gov. Chris Christie has yet to fire anyone in charge. But there’s more to New Jersey Transit’s problems than that.
On a smaller scale, even mundane stories are a cause for concern. Take, for instance, New Jersey Transit’s decision, after decades of ignoring the problem, to close up a shortcut. For decades, Manhattan-bound riders walking to the Teterboro station were faced with a tough choice: Walk a mile on Route 46, a dangerous road with no shoulder or sidewalks or cross the tracks, an otherwise illegal maneuver that NJ Transit had tacitly approved. That approval ended recently when the NJ Transit built a fence. Officials cited “safety” as the primary concern which is laughable if you consider the remaining access options. It might be “safer” for New Jersey Transit’s exposure to liability, but it’s not safer for the people walking to the train station.
We could debate the best way to solve this problem for a while. Maybe an underpass would work or an overpass, but for now, New Jersey Transit has gone with a fence. And just how much does this fence cost? According to the NorthJersey.com report, NJT will spend $100,000 to build a fence eight feet high and 300 feet long. One hundred thousand dollars. It blows the mind. According to a fencing cost estimate site, installing 300 linear feet of chain-link fence in Teterboro, New Jersey, should cost a little over $5000. Instead, New Jersey Transit is going to spend twenty times that amount. No wonder it’s impossible to have a rational discussion on expanding the region’s transit network.