Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Open Letter to NJ Transit

Dear New Jersey Transit,

You need to get your shit together.

I hate to be so blunt and kind of mean about it, but it's what needs to be said. I'm 22, and I've been commuting from Bradley Beach/Asbury Park to New York Penn Station regularly for school for about a year and a half. I am a regular on the North Jersey Coast Line. I've used your trains for years before this, and will probably be stuck using them for years after I graduate to visit friends and do business. This is not a fact that I'm happy about.

Your mission statement, as taken from your website (and a poster in the Asbury Park train station) reads as follows:

Its mission is to provide safe, reliable, convenient and cost-effective transit service with a skilled team of employees, dedicated to our customers' needs and committed to excellence.

This is almost completely contrary to the experiences I've had using your service. Most of your conductors are incredibly nice, friendly, and willing to help customers as best they can. But your service is not reliable, convenient, or cost-effective. Maybe it was at one point, but it certainly isn't right now.

Let's start with "reliable and convenient". NJTransit, when my train gets stuck for more than half an hour twice in three weeks there is a serious problem. When a train has to be over-crowd itself taking on all of the passengers from another train, causing the passengers already on it to be cursed at and rather roughly shoved around instead of providing both sets of passengers with working trains, you cannot call your service "convenient".

When two weeks later, there is a problem with your tracks and passengers are left to wonder WHERE their train is going to go in order for us to get to our destination, you cannot call yourselves "reliable". Nor can you when I check your website and am SURPRISED that my line doesn't have any alerts on it.

Now let's move on to "cost-effective". This is my least favorite part of your mission statement, because I really really do not like being lied to. Your service has LONG since stopped being cost-effective.

Last year you made some changes to your ticket pricing and schedule. . .

How can increasing ticket price and reducing service possibly be cost-effective to your customers? A round-trip ticket from Bradley Beach or Asbury Park to New York Penn Station had previously been $20. This was affordable. Now? A round trip is $30. That's a $10 increase. That's $10 I'm not spending on comics (supporting my industry), art supplies (my job), or food (basic survival). This would be acceptable if there was an increase in trains, or if there was any kind of noticeable improvement to the services already being offered. But I've already made note of the fact that you have decreased the amount of trains running, and your rail system is full of problems causing delays.

I know the economy is in a bad state, and I know this winter was harsh. But you COULD be making a lot of money and are screwing things up for yourselves by making mass transit expensive, unreliable, and an all-around pain in the ass to use.

Get on the ball. Fix this. And do it soon.