Tens of thousands of New Jersey residents who commute to work in New York City would not be able to get to their jobs if NJ Transit workers go on strike in 10 days, the system’s leadership warned.
About 105,000 people commute into New York via trains, either on NJ Transit or in combination with PATH, which is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Dennis Martin, NJ Transit interim executive director, said the contingency plans will accommodate a maximum of about 40,000 people.
Martin said the agency will expand service on 30 bus routes, add service from five private bus carriers and offer free parking at five park-and-ride lots where buses will operate during peak hours.
NJ Transit estimated a normal 65-minute commute from Hamilton or Morristown into New York City could take well over two hours each way via bus and PATH train during a rail shutdown.
Sam Schwartz, a traffic engineer and former New York City traffic commissioner, said traffic backups could reach 20 to 25 miles on highways in New Jersey heading toward the Lincoln and Holland tunnels. He urged commuters to adjust the times they travel.
In a news conference on Thursday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie addressed the potential strike saying that he is monitoring the negotiations very closely and hopes to be able to bring them to a positive resolution without a strike.
“My first priority is the commuters in the state of New Jersey who use New Jersey Transit rail every day. So, we’re going to work hard to do that, but I’m not going to give away the store in the process,” he said.
Christie did add that in order to give NJ Transit workers the wage increases they want, the money will have to come out of taxpayer pockets.