Report Details New Jersey Transit's Concealed Risks

Documents obtained by Bloomberg News detail myriad of safety woes at railway that carries 95,000 to New York City each day.

Commuters At Hoboken Terminal As NJ Transit "Summer Of Hell" Begins
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Federal inspectors uncovered a myriad of New Jersey Transit train cars with pervasive troubles that included defective brakes and electrical hazards in surveying the railway that carries 95,000 people to Manhattan each day, according to a recent report by Bloomberg News.

One engine was so defective it was classified as unsafe, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. From Jan. to Sep. 2017, federal inspectors filed 84 reports, in 10 cases advising that NJ Transit pay fines. 

In Hoboken, New Jersey inspectors on Aug. 12 came across a locomotive and its four cars resting on a track without the full brakes on, Bloomberg reports. The engineer was stretched out with his cell phone on and in use, with the transit worker "in no way 'attending' the equipment he was on." 

A Sep. 29, 2016, crash at the Hoboken terminal killed one person on the platform and injured more than 100 passengers, with investigators concluding an engineer's sleep apnea as the culprit. The locomotive's event recorder was no longer operational, but data on the accident was gleaned from another device. 

While federal regulators routinely inspect railroads, the safety risks at NJ Transit prompted them to delve deeper in 2016. While the agency seems to have largely put to rest the findings, inspectors in 2017 tested NJ Transit equipment an unprecedented amount, detecting ongoing glitches that illustrate years of budget gaps, according to the Bloomberg piece.