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Customers Play Supporting Role to Reduce Number of Emergency Response Incidents on Bus, Rail and Light Rail Systems

NEWARK, NJ, November 8, 2001 -- NJ TRANSIT has launched a public awareness campaign, asking its riders to join them in the fight against real or perceived threats to the Corporation's transportation system. The effort is in response to several recent events where facilities have been closed, equipment has been evacuated and transit services have been disrupted -- all due to false alarms that required an emergency response.

The campaign -- which consists of customer notices, posters and passenger publications -- asks riders to keep their immediate environment clean, remove personal belongings when departing equipment and facilities and cooperate with front-line employees and police to ensure that enhanced security measures achieve their intended purposes.

"In recent weeks, NJ TRANSIT has been forced to shut down facilities, evacuate equipment and suspend operations because passengers or employees reported the presence of a suspicious unmarked package or suspicious powder on equipment, in terminals or at stations," said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein. "Fortunately, all threats and concerns have proven to be unfounded and there has not been a single security breach. Through this campaign, we’re asking our customers to go the extra mile with us to help control unsubstantiated incidents."

"In the words of US Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, patience is a new form of patriotism," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh. "This public awareness campaign reminds our passengers that the simplest thing -- from spilling sugar to leaving packages unattended -- can require an extensive investigation and inconvenience for thousands of our customers. Their cooperation will help to reduce the number of incidents requiring an emergency response."

Every incident report NJ TRANSIT receives must be taken seriously and investigated by authorities. As a result, thousands of customers have been delayed or inconvenienced as police and Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) teams responded to each call. Each incident also comes with a heavy cost and delays emergency law enforcement and emergency crews from responding to other critical situations and emergencies.

In some cases, NJ TRANSIT is forced to take valuable rail and bus equipment out of service indefinitely for decontamination purposes, exacerbating existing overcrowding conditions and causing delays on trains and buses.

The campaign, which was launched with a customer notice this past week and will be followed shortly by posters and the Corporation's FYI publication to customers, offers passengers the following travel tips to help maintain a clean and secure environment:

  • Avoid bringing food or beverages on trains, buses and light rail cars to prevent crumbs, powder and other food residue from being misinterpreted.
  • If passengers do bring food on-board, they are asked to clean up their seating area before they depart. The discovery of sugar, salt or other powdery substances can result in a police and HAZMAT response.
  • Remove trash, bags and other materials such as newspapers from trains, buses, light rail cars and stations.
  • Urge other passengers to clean up after themselves. If they don’t, and riders are aware of a substance being left behind, passengers should alert a NJ TRANSIT employee so the area can be cleaned and the trash is not regarded as suspicious or dangerous.
  • Always remain with packages – do not leave packages and luggage unattended.
  • Remember to take personal belongings when departing transit equipment or passenger facilities.
  • Cooperate with train crews, bus operators, stations personnel, police and other front-line personnel to ensure that security measures are achieving their intended goals.
  • If passengers observe unusual behavior, see something suspicious that concerns them or see a fellow passenger leaving trash behind that will cause concerns, they should advise front-line employees or a police officer if one is available. They should not take matters into their own hands. People who purposely leave behind substances or any other items to give the impression of a threat will be prosecuted to the maximum extent allowed under the law.

With vehicular restrictions and changing travel patterns in the region affecting millions of lives, NJ TRANSIT is asking its passengers to do their part to keep the state's and nation's public transportation systems rolling.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing Bus, rail and light rail services for 380,600 daily commuters on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 163 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.