MORRISTOWN, NEW JERSEY -- In advance of the Morris & Essex lines train diversions, Morristown Mayor Timothy Dougherty attended a joint committee meeting of the Senate Legislative Oversight and Assembly Judiciary committees in Newark on Wednesday, May 31. Dougherty, along with other local mayors, offered testimony to discuss the effects on commuters in their area as a result of the upcoming repairs at New York Penn Station this summer and consequent disruptions in train service.

The full panel of mayors who provided input included, Mayor Timothy Dougherty of Morristown, Mayor Robert Conley of Madison, Mayor Nora Radest of Summit, Village President Sheena Collum of South Orange, Mayor Victor DeLuca of Maplewood and Mayor Lester Taylor of East Orange.

Mayor Dougherty finds the lack of planning between NJ Transit and Amtrak disappointing, and their subsequent lack of communication with all the towns affected unacceptable.

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“I, along with my colleagues in Morris and Essex counties, are actively working on communication efforts to ensure that our residents are seeing their concerns are heard on all accounts,” stated Mayor Dougherty. “We are only a few weeks away from this plan going into effect and there are many details that are still unclear in the decision making process that led NJ Transit and Amtrak to this point.”

The train diversion plan to account for railway repairs, slated to begin on July 10, was announced in a press conference on Tuesday, May 23 by Governor Chris Christie. NJ Transit officials have announced that in addition to the discounted rates on tickets, there will be more ferries, private buses and extra PATH service for those who will be affected. They estimate commuters taking light rail will spend an extra 30 minutes getting to the city, while those taking the ferry could expect to spend an extra 45 minutes commuting one-way. The Morris & Essex trains will run normal service into New York until 7 a.m. weekdays, however, transit officials are urging riders to leave early and avoid the traffic.

Even with the added transportation and discounted rates, many local officials have questioned the rationale behind the decision, and why legislators in the affected areas weren't notified ahead of time.

The main priority of Mayor Dougherty at this time is to provide clear answers to residents with concern, “I understand the worry of residents in Morristown who rely on this train to get into work. I am pushing to make progress to help those in our area feel more comfortable with the outcome of this diversion.”