Commuters Prepare for Looming NJ Transit Strike
VICROBECK: Are you at all worried about the strike?
BINOCHE 1: What?
VICROBECK: The strike?
BINOCHE 2: What strike? I am not informed about the strike?
VICROBECK 1: Alex Binoche commutes to the city every day. He has not been paying attention to the looming strike. But Elizabeth Achieng Isaac is..
ISAAC 1: I did read it on the train station from where I come from and they were telling us to use the buses instead of the trains.
VICROBECK 2: After working without a contract for 5 years, NJ Transit rail workers are asking for an 18% wage increase higher wages and a cap on their health insurance payments. If the negotiations fall through, the NJ Transit contingency plan could accommodate up to 40% of commuters. Ryan Campi commutes daily into the city and says he has plenty of options.
CAMPI 1: I guess would consider carpooling, buses, ferries, taking the path probably.
VICROBECK 3: But the strike could be good news Franky Osvaldo. He is a driver for an alternative bus line, that runs vans between 42nd street in New York and New Jersey.
OSVALDO 2: We hope that we get better, the business, after this strike. Because they have got to come to the city, have got to work, there will only be the ferry or some mini buses like me
VICROBECK 4: But Osvaldo is forgetting another important competitor.
WINNINGHAM 1: The cab is faster than waiting on a bus
VICROBECK 5: Michael Winningham is a taxi dispatcher at Port Authority.
NJ Transit strike could be good for drivers because of the traffic and the increased wages.
VICROBECK 6: A trip in a yellowcab from Port Authority to Newark’s Penn Station costs on average $50 and more if there’s traffic. That’s about the same as Uber. Brent Maida is an Uber driver based in Hoboken. He says if there is a strike…
MAIDA 1: I am going to be out at about 3 o’clock
VICROBECK 7:… that’s AM
So I am going to be a bit more prepared than I usually am. There’s usually people waiting for a ride, I’m expecting that there will be a lot of people waiting for a ride.
VICROBECK 8: Martin Robins was deputy director and lead negotiator during the last strike in 1983. He says things are very different this time around.
ROBINS 2: Anything can happen but I believe there will be a settlement. Because I believe the risk of a strike is scary and that NJ transit can only accommodate 40% of riders it will create travel problems for so many people. Both and people on the roads.
VICROBECK 9: Robins is optimistic that a deal will be reached in time. In the mean time, commuter Abdou Diakité, says he has a good contingency plan.
DIAKITE 1: I would have to work from home, which would be ideal for me. So I really can’t complain about that.
VICROBECK 9: The strike deadline is 12:01 on Sunday morning. Negotiations are expected to continue throughout the weekend.
Alison Vicrobeck, Columbia Radio News.