Remembering Orrin Getz (1939–2022)

Riders on Metro-North’s “West of Hudson” trains on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Line trains lost a friend when Orrin Getz left us on March 21. He was 82. Getz was a member of the Metro-North Commuter Council, representing Rockland and Orange counties in New York State. Metro-North, of New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), owns the tracks on the New York side, while NJ Transit operates the trains. Trains to Port Jervis use NJT’s Main or Bergen County Lines between Hoboken and Suffern, N.Y.

Getz’s advocacy colleague from Rockland County, Randolph Glucksman, remembered him this way: “Even before his appointment to the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council in 2016 and later after his election as MNRCC Vice-chair, Orrin was always a strong advocate for improved West-of-Hudson rail service. He attended Metro-North committee meetings and NJ Transit board meetings, even taking time off from work when he was employed by the Empire State Development Corp. After retiring, we would regularly travel to these meetings together.” Glucksman himself is a rider-representative at the MTA, representing Metro-North riders in the area. He retired from the NYCT system with the rank of Superintendent and had known Getz for over 45 years. He added, “Because Orrin established good relationships with the Metro-North presidents and senior managers at NJ Transit, Pascack Valley and Port Jervis Line customers benefited from additional train service.”

Getz was also not afraid to confront decision-makers when he believed it was necessary. A few years ago, NJT board member Bruce Meisel apologized for being late to a meeting, blaming heavy traffic. Meisel lives along the Pascack Valley Line, but he was known for not riding the transit he governed at the time, but disparaging it. In his statement, Getz told Meisel that if he had been on the train with him (Getz), he would have gotten to the meeting on time. Meisel replied, in essence, that NJ Transit was not dependable enough. Apparently, that comment said it all.

Getz was a member of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP) and the Empire State Passengers’ Association (ESPA). He also belonged to the “Advocates’ Roundtable”, an informal network of advocates along NJT’s lines that included members of the Lackawanna Coalition and NJ-ARP. He continued his advocacy activity for as long as his health allowed him to do so.

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