- Associated Press - Thursday, May 4, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The Democratic front-runner in the race for New Jersey governor said Thursday that New Jersey Transit is in crisis and proposed changes he said could require raising taxes to finance them.

Phil Murphy said at a news conference outside Trenton’s rail station that Republican Gov. Chris Christie should appoint an emergency manager at NJ Transit to coordinate with federal authorities, increase staffing at stations and increase state subsidies among other ideas.

The changes could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, Murphy said, adding that if Christie doesn’t pursue them he would if elected.

“I haven’t added it up to the dime but it’s a multi-hundred-million dollar proposition to get the state’s operating assistance back up to par.”

He added that a dedicated source of revenue might be needed and when asked if that meant a new tax he said “potentially.”

But a spokeswoman later clarified that he was not proposing a new tax.

“He said everything has to be on the table but he was not calling for a new tax,” said spokeswoman Julie Roginsky.

Christie’s office didn’t immediately respond to Murphy’s ideas.

Murphy’s proposals come after Amtrak, whose tracks NJ Transit uses along the Northeast Corridor, prepares for track repairs this summer that could result in delays. Those repairs come after derailments on March 24 and April 3 that caused delays up and down the corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C. And on April 14, a NJ Transit train became disabled in the tunnel leading into the New York’s Penn Station, stranding passengers for three hours and causing havoc.

Murphy is one of six Democrats running to succeed Christie, who is term-limited. Murphy served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to Germany and worked as an executive at Goldman Sachs before launching his gubernatorial bid.

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