Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman Daniel Benson (D-Hamilton) said he was disappointed to learn of recent pay hikes to eight top New Jersey Transit executives Friday.
“I think the most important task that they’ve got to do in the meantime is restoring the public’s trust in rail and bus transit operations, and given that, it’s not the right time for salary increases, whether it saves money overall or not,” Benson said, adding that the agency has made some advances to ensure train reliability.
On Thursday, the New Jersey Globe reported the public transportation agency gave huge salary pumps to eight top officials, including two political appointees.
One official, Justin Davis, a former consultant for Gov. Phil Murphy’s 2017 campaign, had his salary go up from $156,000-per-year to $188,000-per-year.
William Viquerira, the New Jersey Transit CFO, got a raise from $180,000 annually to $215,00. Viquerira served as comptroller for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee Victory 2017 committee and as treasurer for Gov. Murphy’s inaugural committee.
NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said the salary increases were paid for by a restructuring that eliminated other positions at the agency.
The executives’ title changes, which were not publicly announced, correspond to new responsibilities, she said.
It’s not clear which positions were eliminated at this time.
“We know we’re still not over the hump in terms of tough times for commuters and other transit riders, so we understand that reforms are going to be made,” Benson said. “It’s important that we look for ways to save money, but in light of the current levels of service … and when you’re trying to put that message out and you’re trying to rebuild trust, salary increases like these, even if they have new responsibilities, are not the best message to put forward.”