New Jersey’s public transportation authority is the nation’s third largest provider of bus, rail and light rail transit, according to its website. But bigger is not necessarily better and safer, as the high number of accidents involving its rail service has come to light after the most recent accident in Hoboken left one person dead.
Federal regulators state they are “very concerned” about safety for the agency and how poorly it’s run, in light of the fact there have been more than 150 railway accidents in five years according to federal data, reports NBC New York.
In addition dozens of safety violations were found by the Federal Railroad Administration during a safety audit in June. That audit was sparked by an increase in railway accidents and resulted in NJ Transit being fined. Since the start of 2011, the agency has spent more than half a million dollars to settle 183 safety violations ranging from employee drug and alcohol use to violations of railroad operating rules.
There were ten incidents involving trains in August and September, five of which were derailments. There were 25 accidents in 2015. More than half of the accidents occurred in train yards and most of them were at low speed.
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into the NJ Transit train crash at the Hoboken train station is ongoing. In September, a commuter train crashed during morning rush hour, killing one person and injuring another 108 (74 of whom were hospitalized). The train broke through a barrier and traveled across a waiting area.
Like an airliner, the train had two “black boxes” which record data about the train. Investigators have recovered them both but one of them was not operable. They also recovered front-facing video and the personal belongings of the train’s operator, including his cellphone, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, reports NBC News.
The train normally has five cars; the day of the accident there were only four, according to the Journal News. NJ Transit stated it was running shorter trains due to mechanical problems with many of its cars. The train was so crowded, conductors couldn’t collect train fares. Many of the passengers were in the lead car, which was severely damaged.
Train engineer Thomas Gallagher reportedly told investigators that the train was traveling at ten miles per hour as it entered the station, which would be within normal limits. Early reports quoting passengers and eyewitnesses said the train was moving quickly when it crashed.
If you or your family member has been injured while using NJ Transit, there are special time limits on legal claims because it’s a government entity. A formal claim needs to be filed with the state government within 90 days of the injury, so you need to learn about applicable laws and decide whether to file a claim faster than in most other injury cases.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on a NJ Transit bus or train in New Jersey, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at 1-(973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Contact us so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your interests.