- Associated Press - Friday, October 21, 2016

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

4 p.m.

New Jersey Transit says its new executive director will testify before a state legislative committee that’s investigating it after last month’s deadly crash.

An NJ Transit spokeswoman says Steve Santoro looks forward to appearing at the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 4 in Trenton.

Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder says the agency understands and appreciates the importance of the committee’s work.

Santoro and other key staff irked lawmakers by skipping a hearing Friday to meet with federal regulators.

The Federal Railroad Administration said it would have rescheduled the meeting had the officials spoken up about needing to be at the hearing.

Democratic Assemblyman John McKeon says he received a text message Thursday night saying officials couldn’t make the hearing. He says the lack of participation from top officials was disrespectful.

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2:45 p.m.

Federal railroad regulators say a meeting with New Jersey Transit’s top officials would’ve been rescheduled had they known the officials were needed at a legislative hearing on last month’s fatal train crash.

A Federal Railroad Administration spokesman says regulators were unaware of Friday’s conflict until reading about it in the media. Spokesman Matthew Lehner says the agency would’ve “gladly rescheduled” the meeting to ensure NJ Transit officials could testify.

Democratic state Sen. Robert Gordon says lawmakers will use subpoena power if NJ Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro and other officials don’t attend the next hearing Nov. 4.

Democratic 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. He says the lack of participation from top officials was disrespectful.

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2:30 p.m.

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.

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.

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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.


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