At a special meeting held mostly by telephone on Monday, March 4th, the New Jersey Transit Board of Directors voted to spend $20 million for repairs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The largest item, $16 million, will go to Bombardier for repairs on multilevel railcars that were left in low-lying yards at Hoboken and the Meadowlands, falling victim to flooding from the storm. An additional $3 million will be used to repair wheel assemblies on various locomotives and cars. The other $1 million will be spent on mold remediation and other repairs to Hoboken Terminal. The shops at Hoboken are shuttered, the ticket office and customer service office are located in temporary trailers, and most of the waiting room is barricaded.
In reporting by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (March 5), NJT Executive Director Jim Weinstein is quoted in his description of the difficult job of repairing the low-slung “multilevel” double-deck passenger cars. Attempts to drain water with holes were unsuccessful, and insulation and sound-deadening material remained waterlogged; warmer spring weather looms, which could bring growth of mold. “Those floors were not built to be disassembled like that, so they had to tear them up literally with crowbars after the seats were taken out,” Weinstein said. In all, 70 locomotives and 272 passenger cars were damaged, of which 43 engines and 89 cars have been returned to service; in addition, 48 newly-arrived multilevel cars have been put into service. According to Joe Clift, former Long Island Rail Road director of planning and Lackawanna Coalition technical chair, “The lack of equipment continues to create problems for NJ Transit providing its full service. The missing cars and the missing locomotives do have a direct effect on people.”
Hoboken service has also not yet returned to pre-Sandy levels. Commissioner James S. Simpson called the special Board meeting only 9 days ahead of the regular scheduled meeting date. He and NJT Executive Director James W. Weinstein said that the timing of the special meeting to approve the expenses would expedite the repairs.