Welcome to a new year with the Lackawanna Coalition! We have an anniversary coming up this April—well, we do every year, but the 5s and 0s seem to get the most attention. We’ll turn 45 this April and will have a celebration at our meeting on the 15th of that month. We are also considering having dinner together first, so if you are interested in joining us at a Millburn restaurant, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of our former members, John Bobsin, noted this post on Trainorders: “One question, I ran into someone over the summer and he had an app(?) that showed the lead engine or cab car for any NJT train and its current location. The transitdocs site has Amtrak train locations across the country, minus lead unit number, but where is this NJT thing?” It got us thinking; we remember seeing such a site, nonpublished, in the past, but it vanished into a password-protected world. Some of us had used it to track disruptions, primarily, and we are now wondering why it was removed from sight—if Amtrak is O.K. with the public being able to track their trains’ movements, why not NJ Transit? We know that opacity is all too common at the agency—from curtailed agendas for board meetings, with the president’s report not available before the meeting, to missing ALT text on social-media graphics, to “Departure Fiction” that reports ghost
trains—even the windows on the rail cars, especially the multilevel units, are far from transparent. It’s time for the agency to share more with the riding public!
At the February board meeting, we’ll be talking about “N.Y.C. congestion pricing”—the Manhattan Central Business District Toll Plan that is expected to start in May, lawsuits notwithstanding. What is most important to us is that it is an opportunity for NJ Transit to put its best foot forward in attracting new riders, and we are confused and upset that
local and state politicians, up to and including the governor, tend to focus on blocking the plan rather than having joined early to get NJT a percentage of the revenue (given that the tolls will be partly paid by us New Jerseyans) and reminding motorists that they can avoid the extra expense by taking the train or bus. As we once again anticipate budget season in Trenton, we note two missed opportunities for better funding for our transportation agency: (1) the vetoed 3% automobile toll increase and (2) extending the corporate business tax surcharge as dedicated
funding for NJ Transit, and we encourage legislators to stop kicking the can down the road and come up with a plan to address the agency’s expected fiscal year 2026 shortfall of almost $1 billion. Don’t expect riders to cover that great a gap—and don’t cut service on which many people depend for all their mobility. Frequency and reliability are what
are needed to keep customers—and that means sufficient funding!
In Coalition housekeeping, welcome to my fellow officers—some new members in our executive suite this year, with our first full complement of officers in some time: Vito Havrilla adds vice chairperson to his legislative directorship, Rachel Herman comes on board as communications director and George Kaufer as membership director.
Dave Anderson returns as technical director, Daniel Chazin as secretary, and Brad Payeur as treasurer. Bob Hingel retires as vice chairperson, and we thank him for his years of service in that position—and are glad that he
will be remaining aboard as Millburn Township representative. Thanks, too, to all those at town hall, especially current Administrative Assistant Farah Kassim, for welcoming us to their conference room for all of our 45 years.