NEWARK, N.J. — Thousands of people have applied to become locomotive engineers for NJ Transit, addressing the transit agency’s shortage of people to operate its commuter trains. But relief will be far from immediate.
NJ.com reports that more than 5,000 people have already applied to become engineers, with the deadline for applications arriving on Friday.
“We’re extremely pleased with the overwhelming response,” NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder told the news site. “The number of applicants accepted depends on a few variables, such as the graduation rate of classes currently underway, as well as the rate of attrition.”
NJ Transit says it is roughly 15 percent below the full staffing, about 400 engineers, required to operate the system. The shortage is because of retirements, a lack of training classes over the previous seven years, and the loss of employees to other agencies that offer better pay. In an effort to address the problem, the state earlier this year waived its rule requiring engineers to be New Jersey residents. [See “NJ Transit gets permission to hire out of state for engineers, other positions,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 17, 2018.]
But the training process take up to two years, so the agency will not see any immediate end to its need to cancel some trains because no engineer is available.