New Jersey Transit will soon have a dozen additional train engineers.

A new NJ Transit rail engineer class is about to graduate, wrapping up a 78-week-long training program, and each student received a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Phil Murphy at NJ Transit headquarters in Newark on Monday.

Gov. Murphy said as efforts continue to improve NJ Transit, adding more engineers is critically important.

“We need them out serving commuters and customers," he said. "We cannot risk having them offline for one more day.”

He stressed adding more engineers is a key part of rebuilding and improving NJ Transit, and will have a far-reaching impact.

One of the new engineers, Brandi Simpson of Maplewood, was a crew dispatcher for 18 years, but she decided it was time for a change, with a little prodding from members of her family.

Brandi Simpson. David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

“It was kids. Kids pushed me to better-paying wages," she said. "I just wanted to help. I know Transit was going through a lot, so why not, why not change — and I could help.”

She said she couldn't be more excited.

"I feel like personally I am going to be part of the change," she said. "I want to work. I love what I do.”

Murphy said properly staffed rail lines would lead to fewer unscheduled cancellations: "It means giving our commuters faith that their trains will come when we say they will.”

He said this is only one step NJ Transit's ongoing effort to improve.

Three more NJ Transit rail engineer classes will graduate later this fall, which will add an additional 28 rail engineers to the ranks. That will bring the total number of NJ Transit train engineers to about 375.

According to NJ Transit executive director Kevin Corbett, the goal of the agency is to have at least 400 engineers, in order to make sure NJ Transit will be able to stay 100 percent staffed, even when engineers become ill, retire or suddenly seek employment elsewhere.

Right now, the agency has approximately 335 engineers.

NJ Transit serves about 300,000 rail riders every day

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