Governor McGreevey, Commissioner
Fox Say AMTRAK Contingency Plan Impossible
New Jerseyans commuting into New York City would be stranded in the event of a government shutdown of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox said this afternoon.
Commissioner Fox said that New Jersey officials learned today that Amtrak would forbid New Jersey from operating the Northeast Corridor Line, leaving the state with no options to meet its mass transit needs in the event of an Amtrak shut down.
“Intercity rail is a national commitment and the Federal government has a responsibility to ensure the viability of an interstate rail service, just as it does for interstate highways and aviation. It is irresponsible for the federal government to permit the shutdown of Amtrak, thereby impacting the entirety of New Jersey’s public mass transit system,” Governor McGreevey said.
“The lives of hundreds of thousands of commuters and the economic vitality of businesses across the East Coast are being threatened by an ideological battle being waged in Washington, D.C.,” Commissioner Fox said.
“A government shutdown of Amtrak could pitch our economy and our transportation network into chaos that no amount of contingency planning can mitigate,” said Commissioner Fox. “Our highways, buses and rail lines cannot absorb the 100,000 people who would be affected. It is indefensible to put the economy of this state and region in jeopardy over a $200 million loan guarantee.”
A shutdown next week would stop 60 percent of NJ TRANSIT’s trains in their tracks and leave 80,000 commuters, 75% of the corporation’s customers, stranded. NJ TRANSIT trains that do not use the Northeast Corridor to access New York City are currently packed to capacity as the system continues to deal with the aftershocks of September 11th.
With respect to a contingency plan, Commissioner Fox said the state simply does not have extra trains and buses that can absorb an additional 80,000 commuters daily.
“We can only hope our elected officials in Washington will prevail and avert what would surely be a crisis for New Jersey and the region,” said Fox.