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Hoboken Mayor Responds To N.J. Transit Train Crash


Dawn Zimmer is the mayor of Hoboken, N.J. Welcome to the program.

DAWN ZIMMER: Thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: And what more do you know about what happened today?

ZIMMER: One thing that we do we do know is that the victim was from Hoboken. So you know, everyone in Hoboken is really thinking about that family, and my thoughts and prayers are with them. And I do know that there's several people that are in surgery right now, and we're thinking about them as well. So the focus obviously is on the victims.

SIEGEL: I wonder if you could describe for people who are unfamiliar with Hoboken, N.J. or the geography of the area how important Hoboken is as a transit commuting hub in that in that part of the country.

ZIMMER: Well, it's - yeah, I mean it's extremely important. I mean for Hoboken residents, it - we rely on the PATH.

SIEGEL: PATH is Port Authority Trans Hudson. Nobody calls it that, but it's Port Authority Trans Hudson train. It's the underground train that takes you down to Lower Manhattan.

ZIMMER: Right. So the terminal area includes the heavy rail trains that come in from really all over New Jersey. And then there's a light rail train that comes in and then the path that runs underground. And then there's also a ferry terminal area. So we have a, you know, major transportation hub.

And the concern is that the structural integrity of the building has been compromised by this, and that's what they're looking at. But we are quite relieved that they were able to do testing on, you know - running some of the PATH trains, and the PATH is saying they're - they expect to be able to open up for the evening rush hour, so - which is a major thing, especially for our region and for Hoboken residents. We rely on this PATH train, and they're going to try to open up the light rail as quickly as possible.

And we'll see how long it takes. I mean it's hard. It's difficult to say with the - you know, with the investigation obviously. That cannot be compromised in any way, so I don't know whether they'll be able to open up the heavy rail.

SIEGEL: You did have the experience of Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the Hoboken Terminal being extensively damaged and needing repairs. How did you deal with the shutdown of the Hoboken station during that time?

ZIMMER: It was extremely difficult. So the shutdown was a huge impact on all of Hoboken. I mean I was advocating as much as possible for them to add more and more buses. So they - you know, they brought in buses from many other states to try and deal with it, but people were waiting in long lines. It was extremely difficult at the other end, you know, with the - receiving the buses at the Port Authority terminal in New York City. So it was very, very difficult and actually had an impact on our businesses citywide.

So as we saw people's commute interrupted - maybe if it took them two hours to get home, then they were not going out to dinner. They weren't doing their usual errands that they would run. And it had impact across the board on our business. So it is a big relief that they will be able to, you know, run the path right away because that obviously helps our commuters. We want to make sure that they have a way to get to work and then also supports our business community as well.

SIEGEL: Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, N.J., thank you very much for talking with us today.

ZIMMER: All right, thank you very much.

SIEGEL: And since we spoke with the mayor, the New Jersey State Medical Examiner's office has identified the person who was killed as Fabiola Bittar de Kroon. She was 34 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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