Though service appears back to normal, NJ Transit still getting an earful over Friday’s mass cancellations

SECAUCUS, N.J. — After Friday’s record number of cancelled trains, NJ Transit commuters are demanding answers as to what happened.

The agency says the engineers’ union encouraged its workers to call out over a contract dispute, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Monday.

“Cancelled” train lines lit up the boards across NJ Transit on Friday, and by 7:45 p.m. the agency said there were still no trains running out of New York, Newark or Hoboken.

Steve Cody was trying to get from New York City to Middletown.

“So I called Uber and they, they quoted $200,” Cody said. “And it took more than three hours because of the gridlock.”

“I was upset because we get no alerts,” Park Ridge resident Jiomar Isaac added.

READ MORENJ Transit rail service resumes after night of chaos and confusion  

NJ Transit did cross honor all train tickets on buses, but riders Rozner spoke with said those buses were full or did not take them close enough to their destinations.

“We expected at least there would be one train coming within two hours,” Allan Dguerra said.

NJ Transit says the number of engineers who called out of work Friday was nearly triple an average Friday. Saturday was 44 percent more than usual and Sunday saw above average, too.

Friday was the state’s observance of Juneteenth. Engineers did not get it as a paid holiday due to an impasse in contract negotiations.

In court papers, the agency says the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers’ chairman, Jim Brown, admittedly e-mailed members last Monday that “NJT has made it clear that engineers will not be paid for the holiday. Don’t let that deter you from celebrating the holiday!!!”

NJ Transit declined to make anyone available for an interview to explain whether there was a backup plan for commuters. Rozner called Brown on Monday, but he said he couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“I think we wait and see what the results of the legal action are. This is completely and utterly unacceptable,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

After a federal court order Sunday, the union did post a notice encouraging engineers to report for scheduled work. By Monday, most trains appeared to be running on schedule, but one rider said the Pascack Valley line had a mechanical issue, leaving him waiting two hours for the next one.

“A lot of people said that on my train said they spent this money and they’re not getting their money’s worth,” Ron Zobali said.

NJ Transit will be back in court Tuesday morning in Camden with the engineers’ union. 

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