The Fly has learned that NJ Transit’s Rail Operations Division routinely jeopardizes employee and passenger safety by keeping trains moving despite the existence of on-board medical emergencies or unruly passengers.
Trains are not halted at the closest station stop because NJ Transit does not want to block tracks and prevent any following trains from continuing on schedule. Instead, NJ Transit train dispatchers are instructed to route trains requesting police or emergency medical (EMS) personnel response to the nearest station with “passing track” capability.
The Ridgewood station has a passing track; our police and EMS units are frequently dispatched to meet trains with unruly passengers, or those with persons requiring emergency medical assistance.
One such incident happened on the evening of Thursday, January 8th, at approximately 8:18 PM, when four (4) Ridgewood police officers were dispatched to meet NJ Transit Train #65, for assistance in removing two (2) unruly passengers from the train.
Train #65 (express from Secaucus Junction to Suffern) left Hoboken at 7:57 PM with a Secaucus Junction station stop recorded at 8:07 PM. Two (2) passengers became unruly near the Rutherford station. The train crew was instructed to continue operating the train through to Ridgewood’s passing track, where they would be met by uniformed Ridgewood PD and NJ Transit PD officers.
Why wasn’t the train stopped at the station just beyond Rutherford? What if the two (2) unruly passengers had been armed and began using their weapons in Rutherford? If a passenger had collapsed with a heart attack in Rutherford, would NJ Transit have also continued the train up to Ridgewood?
The Fly believes NJ Transit must place the goal of passenger and employee safety ahead of on-time performance.