NJ Transit warns of major disruptions in event of strike

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 03, 2016 12:31 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey Transit, the transportation network that handles commuter traffic into New York City from the state, on Thursday released plans for a possible strike on March 13, warning of major disruption if the industrial action goes ahead.

NJ Transit officials said the emergency plan could only accommodate 38 percent of normal traffic, displacing over 100,000 commuters and leading to snarl ups on roads and serious overcrowding on alternative public transportation routes.

Officials said a shutdown could force an additional 10,000 cars per hour into rush hour traffic during peak times, creating tail backs over 20 miles into New Jersey as commuters jostle to pass through limited crossing points into Manhattan.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on Thursday he was hopeful a deal could be reached but that he would not "give away the store" in negotiations with labor unions. He said his first responsibility was to taxpayers and fare payers.

The strike comes as a poll showed Christie's approval rating in New Jersey hit a new low after he endorsed Republican front-runner Donald Trump in his bid for president. Six local papers called on Christie to resign after the endorsement.

No Agreement was reached on Thursday in talks between NJ Transit and 11 unions in the NJT Rail Labor Coalition, union representatives said. The parties will head to Washington on Friday to meet with the National Labor Relations Board.

The unions are asking for 2.5 percent annual pay rises in return for increases in employee health-care contributions. They say that is their final offer and they will not accept the 0.6 percent they say NJ Transit is offering.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Chizu and Alan Crosby)