NJ Transit pay hikes put the cart ahead of the horse, says Munoz

NJ Transit pay hikes put the cart ahead of the horse, says Munoz

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz said more should have been done to change how NJ Transit operates before doling out big raises to officials appointed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

News accounts last week reported that top executives were given large raises despite the agency’s continued performance problems.

Nancy F. Munoz
“It’s not just the trains that run late,” said Munoz (R-Union). “It’s preposterous to give out raises when even its financial reports and performance data are generally a year behind.”

NJ Transit released its most recent 2018 financial report on June 3 – eleven months after the fiscal year had ended. The agency’s 2019 fiscal year ended on June 30.

Munoz, who is also a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, said more timely and comprehensive financial reports would help policymakers make better decisions to fix the broken agency.

“If Murphy is going to get NJ Transit running like a business, first he has to change how the agency is managed,” Munoz said, referring to the recommendation from Murphy’s audit released in October.

Munoz said that If the agency were a publicly held company, its annual reports would have to be released within 90 days of the end of the fiscal year with extensive quarterly reports also required.

Munoz sponsors legislation (A5440) that would change the timeline for annual reports, provide penalties for not reporting and require quarterly reports. It would also require on-time performance data for peak and non-peak rail service.

If the agency fails to report within 90-days, the executive director would have to convene public hearings in each of the state’s 21 counties. After 150-days, the executive director would be replaced.

Like other major public transit systems, NJ Transit loses money and is dependent on federal and state support. In 2018, the agency lost $1.8 billion. Since 2004, annual losses have been at least $1.26 billion.