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   NJ Transit boss defends decision to wreck millions of dollars in train equipment by leaving them in areas hit hard by Sandy flooding

21 Nov 2012 01:27 PM   |   10465 clicks   |   NJ.com
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AirForceVet    [TotalFark]  
In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.

21 Nov 2012 11:20 AM
brigid_fitch    [TotalFark]  

AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.


This. You could argue all of us in NJ were complacent. We've survived half a century with bigger storms that didn't even close to Sandy's destruction (last one w/a significant amount of damage was apparently in 1962). We know the area around the Raritan floods (Bound Brook, Somerset, Manville, some of New Brunswick, etc.) and we know Sea Girt floods (the sea wall's too low. If you spit too hard, that town floods). But I've lived on the Jersey Shore for over 35 years. I remember David (spawned tornadoes in South Jersey), Gloria (some flooding in the AC area & knocked out power there but no real damage), Hugo (lots of wind but no real damage), The Halloween Storm (the one the movie The Perfect Storm was based on. Sea Bright nearly washed away, Raritan flooded, Cape May got pounded--but for a "Storm of the Century", it didn't hit us as badly as we'd expected), Floyd (That one caused more damage than the Halloween Storm. Raritan overflowed again and flooded 5 towns. AC & Cape May took a LOT of water & wind damage), Irene (again the Raritan towns were the worst hit. Sporadic power outages around the state. But we had more damage & power outages from the snowstorm the week or 2 after Irene than Irene itself).

Almost 4 decades of, "OMG, killer storm!", and each time the same areas are predictably affected. There was no reason to believe Sandy was going to be any different. Until it was.

21 Nov 2012 01:16 PM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  

brigid_fitch: AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

This. You could argue all of us in NJ were complacent. We've survived half a century with bigger storms that didn't even close to Sandy's destruction (last one w/a significant amount of damage was apparently in 1962). We know the area around the Raritan floods (Bound Brook, Somerset, Manville, some of New Brunswick, etc.) and we know Sea Girt floods (the sea wall's too low. If you spit too hard, that town floods). But I've lived on the Jersey Shore for over 35 years. I remember David (spawned tornadoes in South Jersey), Gloria (some flooding in the AC area & knocked out power there but no real damage), Hugo (lots of wind but no real damage), The Halloween Storm (the one the movie The Perfect Storm was based on. Sea Bright nearly washed away, Raritan flooded, Cape May got pounded--but for a "Storm of the Century", it didn't hit us as badly as we'd expected), Floyd (That one caused more damage than the Halloween Storm. Raritan overflowed again and flooded 5 towns. AC & Cape May took a LOT of water & wind damage), Irene (again the Raritan towns were the worst hit. Sporadic power outages around the state. But we had more damage & power outages from the snowstorm the week or 2 after Irene than Irene itself).

Almost 4 decades of, "OMG, killer storm!", and each time the same areas are predictably affected. There was no reason to believe Sandy was going to be any different. Until it was.


oblig.....

upload.wikimedia.orgView Full Size

21 Nov 2012 01:30 PM
MyRandomName     
A liberal shunning responsibility for his bad decisions? You don't say.

21 Nov 2012 01:31 PM
JohnCarter     
Wait - he's the Executive Director of NJ transit and one expects him to actually make a decision?

Well..it nevah flooded before, whadda gonna do... oohhh!

Typical GovCo, pay me big money, but I am not qualified to even do the basics of my job

21 Nov 2012 01:32 PM
Arkanaut    [TotalFark]  
"They made a decision, and as Burke said to Ripley in Alien, 'It was a bad call'"

Yeah, we all remember about those honest mistakes that Weyland-Yutani made in Aliens.

21 Nov 2012 01:32 PM
PainInTheASP    [TotalFark]  
I gotta side with New Jersey on this one...it was an Act of God.

/And God was sick of riding to work in a train car that smelled like urine and failure.

21 Nov 2012 01:34 PM
StoPPeRmobile     

MyRandomName: A liberal shunning responsibility for his bad decisions? You don't say.


derp

21 Nov 2012 01:34 PM
poot_rootbeer    [TotalFark]  
NJ Transit only has so much railyard capacity in its system, and a lot of its operational trackage cuts through densely populated residential areas and/or is leased from Amtrak and other entities, so parking trains there would have been unsafe or impractical.

21 Nov 2012 01:36 PM
bentley57     
My hind-sight is better than your hind-sight.

21 Nov 2012 01:38 PM
LineNoise    [TotalFark]  

AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.


As someone who lives right by that train station, and also lost a car in the floods, I can understand where he is coming from. Yes, everyone knows town floods. But it flooded like it never had before, in areas that never flooded before.

I went out of my way to move my cars out of town during the hurricane last year, and a tree missed taking them both out by about 5 feet. Meanwhile there wasn't a drop of water in my garage.

So for this one, I didn't move one of the cars. My garage got 5 feet of water in it when the surge backed up through the sewers (I am about 1/4 mile from the river with a big hill between it and me) and flooded areas that never flooded before.

NJT has been great in getting things going again.

21 Nov 2012 01:39 PM
MrSteve007    [TotalFark]  
If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link

21 Nov 2012 01:40 PM
show me    [TotalFark]  

MyRandomName: A liberal shunning responsibility for his bad decisions? You don't say.


s3.media.squarespace.comView Full Size

21 Nov 2012 01:40 PM
ZAZ    [TotalFark]  
Will the federal DOT or FEMA bail them out with funding for new trains? Could be a good move.

21 Nov 2012 01:41 PM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  

MrSteve007: If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link


" YOU DIDN'T DO ENUF WARRRGGBBLLLL!!!!
crushliberalism.files.wordpress.comView Full Size

IT'S FARTBONGO'S FAULT!!!!
/FEMA BODYBAGS CONCENTRATION CAMPS ILLUMINATI!!

21 Nov 2012 01:44 PM
Bullseyed     

AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.


Yeah because we don't have tv or cameras or video or the internet, so no one outside of typical hurricane areas knows what one is.

What?

21 Nov 2012 01:44 PM
LineNoise    [TotalFark]  

MrSteve007: If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link


What flooded most of hoboken wasn't the surge itself. it barely made it a block from the river. What took town down was when the surge ran back up the sewers and flooded areas that have never flooded before. Hoboken has always flooded very predictably. a few inches of rain in a couple of hours during high tide will put one of the corners of my building under a foot or two of water for 12 hours. It happens a few times a year. What happened this time was kind of mind boggling to watch happen.

where this is:
media.10news.comView Full Size


is about as far from the river as you can get, and in my 10+ years of living here, I have never seen that area even have standing water during a storm. Same goes for the railyard.

Likewise like someone said, NJT has a limited number of places it can stick trains, and with the wind, you risked sticking them someplace a tree would fall on them, or have them stranded on some side track when you were ready to resume the system.

21 Nov 2012 01:46 PM
Bullseyed     

brigid_fitch: Almost 4 decades of, "OMG, killer storm!", and each time the same areas are predictably affected. There was no reason to believe Sandy was going to be any different. Until it was.


There was plenty of reason to believe it would be different.

Only idiots believe the sensationalist media.

21 Nov 2012 01:46 PM
Bullseyed     

LineNoise: As someone who lives right by that train station, and also lost a car in the floods, I can understand where he is coming from. Yes, everyone knows town floods. But it flooded like it never had before, in areas that never flooded before.


So what you're saying is you're too stupid to leave town with a week's notice that a hurricane is coming?

21 Nov 2012 01:48 PM
porterm     
i dont question this guy,he really didnt have much to go on. what i do question is why this area got so built up in the first place. visited there recently and it is a swampy mess without storm surges. did people just get tired and decide to stop there?

21 Nov 2012 01:48 PM
Bullseyed     

MrSteve007: If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link


Hey, you can't expect people to listen to stuff. They're busying on Facebook lolin all over.

Anyone who stayed in NYC or NJ deserved to die. Only the mentally fit should survive.

21 Nov 2012 01:49 PM
Clemkadidlefark     

MyRandomName: A liberal shunning responsibility for his bad decisions? You don't say.


Poke

21 Nov 2012 01:50 PM
ChubbyTiger     
Well, at least now I know why my line is still farked up, schedule wise.

21 Nov 2012 01:51 PM
monoski     
Funny, in my office we really don't care if you have a defense for a screw-up that costs the firm money. If you fark up big enough you get fired. This would haev qualified him for an exit.

21 Nov 2012 01:51 PM
wambu     
"People say, 'Oh, you just move the trains,'" [Weinstein] said. "This is not a toy train set. They're not buses you buy at a Hess station for your kids at Christmas. This is real life. This is big machines that take a lot of people who are very well trained."

Not well enough it seems.

21 Nov 2012 01:54 PM
LineNoise    [TotalFark]  

Bullseyed: LineNoise: As someone who lives right by that train station, and also lost a car in the floods, I can understand where he is coming from. Yes, everyone knows town floods. But it flooded like it never had before, in areas that never flooded before.

So what you're saying is you're too stupid to leave town with a week's notice that a hurricane is coming?


No, I'm someone who made a calculated decision. I live on the top floor of a modern highrise, with plenty of distance between me and the river, and like I said, a big hill between us. The river wouldn't get to me in a 100 years. I was never personally in any danger. As for my car, I weighed 10 years of seeing what happened during storms, factored in a "well, this one will be worse by several magnitudes" and put my car in what I thought was the safest place. In hindsight, I was wrong, because something that never happened before happened. So were 10s of thousands of other people who lost cars.

Now I also factored in, "what would happen if I did lose the car". Seeing as it was insured, paid off, and I wasn't really personally attached to it, it was a risk I was willing to take. Would I have done things differently had I known the results? Of course. But the car could then have ended up getting hit by a tree, and I would have been "man, I should have left it in the garage" The timing of the storm might have been a little different, and it might have been an hour or two sooner or later and the surge not hit smack during high tide, and the sewers never would have flooded. A lot of things could have plaid out differently.

At the end of the day, I lost a car. Woopdeedoo. People lose cars every day.

21 Nov 2012 01:54 PM
SlothB77    [TotalFark]  

MrSteve007: If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link


^
|
this up there. If those trains are his responsibility, then he completely shirked it.

21 Nov 2012 01:54 PM
WelldeadLink     

bentley57: My hind-sight is better than your hind-sight.


Yup, but you're not the one who go sand in their coaches.

21 Nov 2012 01:56 PM
Jument     
Yeah it was a pretty extraordinary event. Moving trains is serious business. It's not like you can just park a bunch of trains somewhere else on the off chance that maybe this event will completely dwarf anything they've ever had to deal with before.

21 Nov 2012 01:57 PM
Contents Under Pressure     

AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.


Came in here to say that. I grew up in NYC and the whole thing is just inconceivable.

21 Nov 2012 01:58 PM
H31N0US     
I guess that's what separates me from Mr Wienstein. I would think of the worst thing that could happen based on the worst of the forecasts, and act accordingly. Could have stuck a bunch of trains in the Hoboken tunnels, in the rail yard by Newark Penn, and in sidings along the non-Amtrak lines. Tree falls and blocks the track? Send a crew with chainsaws out and in 2 hours your problem is gone. Not to mention that by adopting this approach you've diversified your risk somewhat.

Flood a few dozen cars and engines? Big money to fix.

This guy obviously doesn't understand risk management and probability. He should be "resigned" immediately.

21 Nov 2012 01:58 PM
someguy945     

Bullseyed: brigid_fitch: Almost 4 decades of, "OMG, killer storm!", and each time the same areas are predictably affected. There was no reason to believe Sandy was going to be any different. Until it was.

There was plenty of reason to believe it would be different.

Only idiots believe the sensationalist media.


Am I supposed to get a degree in meteorology so I don't have to trust the media?

21 Nov 2012 01:59 PM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  

Jument: Yeah it was a pretty extraordinary event. Moving trains is serious business. It's not like you can just park a bunch of trains somewhere else on the off chance that maybe this event will completely dwarf anything they've ever had to deal with before.


i.imgur.comView Full Size


/needed new mene

21 Nov 2012 02:00 PM
H31N0US     

wambu: This is big machines that take a lot of people who are very well trained

who will be working on a Sunday making double time and a half.

21 Nov 2012 02:00 PM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  

Contents Under Pressure: AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.

Came in here to say that. I grew up in NYC and the whole thing is just inconceivable.


onemansblog.comView Full Size

21 Nov 2012 02:00 PM
LineNoise    [TotalFark]  

H31N0US: I guess that's what separates me from Mr Wienstein. I would think of the worst thing that could happen based on the worst of the forecasts, and act accordingly. Could have stuck a bunch of trains in the Hoboken tunnels, in the rail yard by Newark Penn, and in sidings along the non-Amtrak lines. Tree falls and blocks the track? Send a crew with chainsaws out and in 2 hours your problem is gone. Not to mention that by adopting this approach you've diversified your risk somewhat.

Flood a few dozen cars and engines? Big money to fix.

This guy obviously doesn't understand risk management and probability. He should be "resigned" immediately.


The tunnels flooded. There are still 2 main lines that are out of service. Everything be seacaucus flooded. Remember not all tracks are electrified, so you are limited as to what trains you can put where. Could you walk the tracks after the storm and find a place where you would go, "Hey, a train would fit here, we should have put one here!" Of course. But that is hindsight. They put the trains in what was historically the safest place (and it wasn't like they put every train there, just ones they had no other easy place to put them in.

Also keep in mind that the train system is the lifeblood around here, so you could really only start shutting down and prepping stuff 24 hours in advance.

21 Nov 2012 02:02 PM
kvinesknows     
I thought that someone actually warned them specifically ahead of time that it was a bad place to store them and he was ignored?

21 Nov 2012 02:04 PM
Misch    [TotalFark]  

porterm: i dont question this guy,he really didnt have much to go on. what i do question is why this area got so built up in the first place. visited there recently and it is a swampy mess without storm surges. did people just get tired and decide to stop there?


New Jersey is olde english for "strip mall", or "parking lot". It's the most densely populated state in the nation. You couldn't tell that from the area I live in, so when I heard that (and verified it) I was kinda shocked how tightly people are packed in.

wambu: "People say, 'Oh, you just move the trains,'" [Weinstein] said. "This is not a toy train set. They're not buses you buy at a Hess station for your kids at Christmas. This is real life. This is big machines that take a lot of people who are very well trained."


This isn't Railroad Tycoon. You can't just pick up a train and move it. Commuter trains typically start and end their days in a central location. Their conductors and engineers get on the train at a central point, and end their day at that central point. There's a lot of things to think about in logistics when you have to have your crews start in one place and end in another. Doing this while you're still trying to provide some level of system-wide service so people can get back home before all hell breaks loose? That's a logistical nightmare.

That being said, they've learned lessons and are going to be better prepared the next time something like this comes along.

21 Nov 2012 02:07 PM
JK47     

LineNoise: As someone who lives right by that train station, and also lost a car in the floods, I can understand where he is coming from. Yes, everyone knows town floods. But it flooded like it never had before, in areas that never flooded before.

I went out of my way to move my cars out of town during the hurricane last year, and a tree missed taking them both out by about 5 feet. Meanwhile there wasn't a drop of water in my garage.

So for this one, I didn't move one of the cars. My garage got 5 feet of water in it when the surge backed up through the sewers (I am about 1/4 mile from the river with a big hill between it and me) and flooded areas that never flooded before.

NJT has been great in getting things going again.



Some of us only learn that fire is hot once we've been burned.

21 Nov 2012 02:09 PM
Odd Bird     
FTA: "Look at it as a bank vault," Schanoes said, noting that some locomotives are worth $5 million. "You've got a bank vault with $5 million and robbers are coming. Do you leave the money in the bank vault or move it out of the way?"

shiatty analogy is shiatty.

21 Nov 2012 02:11 PM
kvinesknows     

Odd Bird: FTA: "Look at it as a bank vault," Schanoes said, noting that some locomotives are worth $5 million. "You've got a bank vault with $5 million and robbers are coming. Do you leave the money in the bank vault or move it out of the way?"

shiatty analogy is shiatty.


yeah.. I would totally leave the money in the vault that the robbers cant get into

21 Nov 2012 02:13 PM
ArgusRun     

LineNoise: H31N0US: I guess that's what separates me from Mr Wienstein. I would think of the worst thing that could happen based on the worst of the forecasts, and act accordingly. Could have stuck a bunch of trains in the Hoboken tunnels, in the rail yard by Newark Penn, and in sidings along the non-Amtrak lines. Tree falls and blocks the track? Send a crew with chainsaws out and in 2 hours your problem is gone. Not to mention that by adopting this approach you've diversified your risk somewhat.

Flood a few dozen cars and engines? Big money to fix.

This guy obviously doesn't understand risk management and probability. He should be "resigned" immediately.

The tunnels flooded. There are still 2 main lines that are out of service. Everything be seacaucus flooded. Remember not all tracks are electrified, so you are limited as to what trains you can put where. Could you walk the tracks after the storm and find a place where you would go, "Hey, a train would fit here, we should have put one here!" Of course. But that is hindsight. They put the trains in what was historically the safest place (and it wasn't like they put every train there, just ones they had no other easy place to put them in.

Also keep in mind that the train system is the lifeblood around here, so you could really only start shutting down and prepping stuff 24 hours in advance.


Also planning for the absolute worst case scenario is bad business. It sounds great, but is the commercial side of "live every day like it's your last." They make for good sound bites, but shiatty policy. You make a risk-reward calculation and go with it.

21 Nov 2012 02:16 PM
H31N0US     

LineNoise: The tunnels flooded.


The tunnels west of hoboken going into secaucus? they are on high ground. I am very surprised.

Remember not all tracks are electrified, so you are limited as to what trains you can put where.

The flooded new engines were dual power; don't need electricity. The new cars are power agnostic. They could have fit them all on the Main Line third (express) track between Ridgewood and Waldwick.

Could you walk the tracks after the storm and find a place where you would go, "Hey, a train would fit here, we should have put one here!" Of course. But that is hindsight.

They shouldn't need to walk the tracks! They run the system! This was one of the most accurately forecast storms I can remember. They had the time. I understand your points but I stand by mine.

21 Nov 2012 02:16 PM
Job Creator     

MrSteve007: If only forecasters had predicted that the area would have the largest storm surge the region had ever seen. Then they could have moved the trains inland.

Oh, wait. They did. With near perfect accuracy. With at least 5 days in advance.

Link


www.prunejuicemedia.comView Full Size

21 Nov 2012 02:17 PM
Job Creator     

Clemkadidlefark: MyRandomName: A liberal shunning responsibility for his bad decisions? You don't say.

Poke


I thought the NJ Transit director was a Christie appointee?

21 Nov 2012 02:19 PM
Job Creator     

AirForceVet: In the dude's defense, they don't get many hurricanes with storm surges up in NJ.

If he done the same in, say, Florida, he wouldn't have had a track to stand on.


Except the predicted (and actual) storm surge would have easily flooded the yard.

21 Nov 2012 02:19 PM
Dinjiin     

poot_rootbeer: NJ Transit only has so much railyard capacity


That seems to be the issue. There wasn't any other place to park them because they've never had a reason to have a rail yard on higher ground. And now that they know that their current yard is too low, what recourse do they have? There might not be anywhere to build a new rail yard, let alone the budget to do so.

21 Nov 2012 02:25 PM
H31N0US     

LineNoise: Also keep in mind that the train system is the lifeblood around here, so you could really only start shutting down and prepping stuff 24 hours in advance.


On the weekend, half the system is shut down already. If it's going to save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital equipment, yes, you can start shutting the other half of the system down a day in advance.

The telling fact in all this is that when NJT put their slideshow online, the "hey look at the damage we are fixing please have patience because it's a big job", they didn't provide any slides showing the flooded equipment in the Kearny yard. They knew they farked up royally an didn't want to draw attention to it. The Post / Reuters blew that open, and now NJT is playing dumb: "We didn't expect...worst storm evar..." That pisses me off the most.

In two years I'll be paying $350-400 a month for transit from Ridgewood, partially to offset the cost of this fiasco.

21 Nov 2012 02:25 PM
LineNoise    [TotalFark]  

H31N0US: LineNoise: The tunnels flooded.

The tunnels west of hoboken going into secaucus? they are on high ground. I am very surprised.

Remember not all tracks are electrified, so you are limited as to what trains you can put where.

The flooded new engines were dual power; don't need electricity. The new cars are power agnostic. They could have fit them all on the Main Line third (express) track between Ridgewood and Waldwick.

Could you walk the tracks after the storm and find a place where you would go, "Hey, a train would fit here, we should have put one here!" Of course. But that is hindsight.

They shouldn't need to walk the tracks! They run the system! This was one of the most accurately forecast storms I can remember. They had the time. I understand your points but I stand by mine.


again, 90% of the flooding in hoboken was not caused by rain or the river directly reaching the location. I live on "high" ground. I still had 5 feet of water in my garage and lobby.

What happened was the surge pushed up the sewer system. so anything connected to it got flooded.

21 Nov 2012 02:27 PM
evaned     

H31N0US: This was one of the most accurately forecast storms I can remember.


...which in some sense, serves to diminish your argument, not enhance it. After all, you don't know how accurate the forecast is until it's too late. And "this was one of the most accurate" means that historical evidence would suggest that the forecast was going to be less accurate than it was.

I don't claim to be anywhere near informed enough to make an actual decision as to how reasonable the decision was. There are a lot of factors that go into that: what the forecast said, how often similar forecasts had happened in the past and how they had turned out, what the alternatives were, etc. I'm just bringing that up as sort of a "devil's advocate" kind of thing.

21 Nov 2012 02:30 PM
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