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NJ Transit pursues 'improved customer experience'

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Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a budget press conference at the Rutherford Train Station on June 26.
Gov. Phil Murphy speaks at a budget press conference at the Rutherford Train Station on June 26. - ()

New Jersey Transit will deploy a “customer experience unit” of at least six staffers and upgrade its mobile app to provide push notifications for delays and cancellations — all part of a new communications strategy unveiled Wednesday.

The announcement by the Murphy administration marks one of the first overhauls of the beleaguered statewide agency since the October unveiling of a 158-page report detailing how to fix NJ Transit’s consistent commuting woes.

Under NJ Transit’s new “Engage. Inform. Improve” campaign, the agency will be dedicated to an “improved customer experience” for its commuters.

The changes to the communications strategy mean the agency will provide commuters with faster information about delays, cancellations and other disruptions to buses and trains.

Customers will be able to use Apple Pay and Google Pay to make purchases on the agency app for tickets.

“Our goal is nothing less than a customer-focused agency that engages with riders, listens to them and thinks like them.”

- Gov. Phil Murphy

“While so much of what is happening to transform and restore NJ Transit is not yet tangible to its customers, it is foundational to the long-term improvements we need,” Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said at a press conference at the Trenton Transit Center.

She was flanked by Gov. Phil Murphy and NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett.

“Our goal is nothing less than a customer-focused agency that engages with riders, listens to them and thinks like them,” Murphy said.

Murphy said the agency is at roughly 93 percent toward the completion of the federally mandated emergency braking system called positive train control.

If NJ Transit meets the Dec. 31 deadline, the agency would be able to appeal to the Federal Railroad Administration for a two-year extension to ensure the PTC technology is fully operational, boosting the new deadline to Dec. 31, 2020.

Murphy said that when he took office in January, PTC was only 12 percent installed. In a mad dash to complete the installation, NJ Transit has shut down the Atlantic City Line through early next year and also frequently taken many tracts offline, which has contributed to significant delays and cancellations.

NJ Transit is in the process of purchasing 113 new multilevel rail cars and 182 new 45-foot cruiser buses, the governor's office said. Since Jan. 1, NJ Transit has hired 300 new bus operators and received more than 5,000 applications for locomotive engineers.

A class of 13 locomotive engineers is expected to graduate in May, followed by another three classes by the end of 2019.

“New buses, new trains, a new app, a new minds set, the hope is the combinations will lead to a more meaningful customer experience,” Murphy said. “We won’t get to nirvana overnight, but there is no question we are in a better place and we’ll get to a better place going forward.”

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz


Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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