The Latest: NJ Transit declines to answer safety questions

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Posted: Oct 21, 2016 2:29 PM
The Latest: NJ Transit declines to answer safety questions

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The Latest on a legislative hearing on New Jersey Transit following last month's fatal train crash (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

New Jersey Transit has declined to answer questions about its safety record because of the ongoing investigation into why a train crashed into a station last month.

Board chairman Richard Hammer told lawmakers on Friday he blamed the agency's accounting methods for higher accident and breakdown rates than other commuter railroads.

Hammer says NJ Transit counts every incident and accident involving its trains and tracks, not just those meeting federal reporting criteria.

Lawmakers investigating NJ Transit were disappointed the agency's senior leadership failed to appear and threatened to subpoena them if they don't show up at the next hearing.

A woman standing on the platform was killed and more than 100 people were injured when an NJ Transit train barreled into Hoboken Terminal on Sept. 29.

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11:20 a.m.

Lawmakers investigating New Jersey Transit say they're disappointed the agency's senior leadership didn't show up for a legislative hearing on last month's fatal train crash.

Sen. Robert Gordon says they'll use subpoena power if NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro and other officials don't accept invitations to the next hearing Nov. 4.

Assemblyman John McKeon says he received a text message Thursday night saying officials couldn't make the hearing because they had to meet with federal regulators Friday.

He says the lack of participation from NJ Transit's top management was "disrespectful" to the joint legislative committee looking into the agency's safety and financial woes.

State Transportation Commissioner Richard Hammer is testifying at Friday's hearing. He is the chairman of NJ Transit's board.

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Midnight

Lawmakers investigating New Jersey Transit are expected to focus on the role modern safety technology could have played in preventing last month's deadly crash.

Friday's hearing in Trenton comes after an Associated Press report found that NJ Transit had more accidents and paid more safety fines than any other commuter railroad since 2011.

NJ Transit has been sluggish in installing federally mandated positive-train control technology. Six years after its plan received approval, the agency is still using speed controls developed in the 1950s.

In last month's crash, a train sped to double the 10 mph speed limit and hurdled into Hoboken Terminal, killing a woman on the platform and injuring more than 100 other people.