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Are New York City commuters in danger?

The black box investigation of the NJ Transit commuter train crash on September 29, 2016 has not yielded very satisfying answers. In fact, readers may have more concerns about mass transit safety in New York City.

As readers may recall, the crash injured over 100 riders and claimed the life of a 34-year-old woman who was standing on the terminal platform. Federal investigators have confirmed that the train was traveling at over twice the speed limit posted at the Hoboken Terminal station. Even more troubling, however, is that the crash occurred just months after a federal safety inspection effort.

The effort highlighted several safety violations specific to the Hoboken Terminal, including operator errors such as failing to blow horns at grade crossings, trains stopping in too close proximity to each other, on-duty personnel using their cell phones, and crew members failing to perform mandatory brake tests on trains. The inspection also found that trains were not equipped with mandatory emergency equipment.

The NJ Transit Executive Director recently stated that several safety reforms have been implemented since the crash. The posted speed limit of trains entering the train has been lowered to 5 mph. Train conductors now ride in the cab car, along with engineering personnel.

Using mass transit is a reality of life for many commuters who work in New York City. City officials have an obligation to ensure that mass transit operators are adequately trained and all applicable safety rules are being followed. Any shortcomings may give rise to municipal liability, such as a claim against the city of Hoboken. Yet filing a municipal tort claim requires special legal strategy, especially against a municipality as big as New York City. There are also special statutory rules and procedural deadlines. Our New York City personal injury law firm has the experience to handle such matters.

Source: NBC New York, "Federal Investigators Find Many NJ Transit Safety Violations," Michael R. Sisak, Nov. 4, 2016

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