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New Jersey Senate President Starting Investigation Into NJ TRANSIT's Continued Failures

CRANFORD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – There are new troubles for NJ TRANSIT.

The president of the state's senate is calling for an investigation into what he calls the beleaguered agency's continued failures.

For NJ TRANSIT, it's been a never ending saga of commuter woes, with delays and cancellations becoming the norm.

"Late, late, late, very late!" commuter Charlie Gutierrez said.

nj transit
(Credit: CBS2)

Now it's a race to see which top Democrat will fix the system and become the hero for riders.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney calls the unreliability unacceptable and is creating a select committee of Democrats and Republicans to investigate the transit agency – saying its failures will hurt the economy, housing values, and quality of life in New Jersey.

"It's just beyond unfair what's been going on and it needs to be fixed," Sweeney said.

Gov. Phil Murphy claims he's already made NJ TRANSIT one of his top priorities, installing new leadership, ramping up classes for much needed engineers to replenish the depleted ranks, and increasing funding.

"At this point, it's too far into the administration and it's not better," Sweeney said about the governor's efforts.

Gov. Murphy has continually blamed the Christie Administration and leaders like Sweeney, who served alongside him, for gutting the transit system.

"We welcome the legislature's scrutiny and look forward to the discussion of their budgets that were negotiated with Governor Christie and sent to his desk, which reduced state funding to the agency by as much as 90 percent," the governor's office said in a statement.

Transit expert Janna Chernetz says NJ TRANSIT is in dire straits.

"It's going to take an effort between both the legislature and the executive branch in order to turn this agency around," Chernetz said.

"We can have all of the plans, the audits, the hearings, everything that can tell us what's wrong with New Jersey Transit -- even identifying the solutions -- unfortunately nothing is going to be possible unless it's adequately funded."

NJ TRANSIT trains are four times as likely to be cancelled as Long Island Railroad and Metro North trains. Sweeney plans to hold public hearings, round tables, and conduct site visits as part of the investigation.

Sen. Loretta Weinberg says the state needs to provide more than the $75 million in additional operating support for NJ TRANSIT in this year's budget.

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