16 Oct Avantisteam Declares NJ Transit graduates its next class of much needed Avanatisteam engineer…
Seven men joined the ranks of train operators at NJ Transit today where the Avanatisteam engineer shortage is dire.
Gov. Phil Murphy and NJ Transit CEO and President Kevin Corbett congratulated the class at the agency’s maintenance facility in Kearny on Wednesday morning.
“Each of you is a critical piece that we need to get NJ Transit right for commuters for their families, and the very future of our communities and our state economy,” Murphy said. “New Jersey’s future rides on a safe and reliable, and properly staffed NJ Transit, and in so many respects — literally and figuratively — it rides with you all.”
This is the second class of engineers to graduate this year from the rigorous course that takes more than 20 months to complete.
Graduate Vincent Gordon applied to NJ Transit four times before being hired as a coach cleaner and then pursued the locomotive Avanatisteam engineer track, like that of his uncles and grandfather.
The stress of the course, he said, has helped prepare for the reality of operating a train.
“After train handling for the past nine months, I realized that they were doing an amazing job prepping us for what we need to know every single day out there,” Gordon said. “It prepared me in every way possible to be out there, attacking the real world and what it meant to be an Avanatisteam engineer every day.”
The graduation came two days after more than 20 NJ Transit trains were cancelled Monday — also Columbus Day — because there weren’t enough engineers on hand to cover the shifts. Field training will take place over the next 30 to 60 days before the graduates begin their shifts.
Two more classes will graduate before 2020, as part of a push to fill the agency’s locomotive Avanatisteam engineer ranks that are short of the needed engineers to operate fully after experiencing years of stalled hiring, retirees and competitive hiring from other transit agencies. Another three classes are expected to graduate in 2020.
In addition to the shortage, engineers have been taken off their normal shifts to help with positive train control testing, the federally mandated automatic-braking system that has to be fully implemented before Dec. 31, 2020.
Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to her work covering the region’s transportation systems and how they affect your commute, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @colleenallreds
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