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New Jersey Transit board member could face eligibility challenge

Phone It In Flora’s train line might end commuter status

By David Wildstein, August 06 2018 12:45 am

The decision by New Jersey Transit to suspend their rail service between Atlantic City and Philadelphia could put the status of one of their longtime board members in jeopardy.

Flora Castillo holds the one board seat statutorily set aside for a commuter. Castillo, a Republican donor who was appointed to the New Jersey Transit Board by Gov. Christine Todd Whitman in 1999, lives in Ventnor and works in Philadelphia.  If Castillo will no longer use New Jersey Transit to commute to her job as the Vice President of Corporate Marketing at AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies, that might put her eligibility for the commuter seat in jeopardy.

That’s if Castillo really is a commuter at all.  In 2015, a NJ Transit spokesperson told New Jersey Advance Media’s Larry Higgs that Castillo “is a regular rider of the 319 bus” – that’s the express bus that runs between Atlantic City and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.  It’s an odd bus line to take every day when you work in Pennsyvania.

One legitimate knock on Castillo is her attendance record.  In 2017, she attended just three board meetings in person, and literally phoned it in for the other eight: she attended board meetings by telephone.  So far this year, Castillo has traveled to the New Jersey Transit Headquarters in Newark for board meetings only twice; she phoned it in the other five times.

Castillo was reappointed by Gov. Chris Christie in 2012.

In 2017, Port Authority Commissioner George Laufenberg resigned amidst allegations that he did not actually live in the port district — a 25-mile radius around the Statue of Liberty.  Laufenberg held one of the four seats that required port district residency, so he used his son’s address in Hoboken and not his home in Wall.   He was replaced by Caren Turner, who lived in Tenafly.

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