NJ Transit's top law enforcement official on Wednesday announced a new way customers can fight terrorism using a tool most already own: a cellphone.
Customers can now report suspicious persons, unattended backpacks and other potentially criminal activity under a new program that NJ Transit Police Chief Christopher Trucillo calls "Text Against Terror."
Messages sent to NJTPD -- or the numbers 65873 -- will go to the NJ Transit police, officials said.
"As the eyes and ears of the NJ Transit system, our customers and employees are the first line of defense in the war against terror, so it is critical that we all remain vigilant and aware of our surroundings," Trucillo said.
The texting initiative and a supporting awareness campaign that includes radio and television ads and panel cards, are funded through a $1.15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Customers have had the "Text Tips" system -- a security hot line reached by dialing 888-TIPS-NJT -- since 2003.
The agency said all calls are investigated and all information is confidential.
To report a crime in progress or request immediate police or emergency assistance, customers should call 911 or the NJ Transit Police communications center at 800-242-0236 or 973-378-6565.
The NJ Transit board voted unanimously Wednesday to purchase 158 40-foot buses at a cost of $68.7 million.
Several people urged the board to delay the purchase of the buses -- which are high-floor buses -- and consider buying low-floor buses instead.
Jim Gigantino, vice president and general manager of bus operations at NJ Transit, said the low floor buses only have one step to enter, while the high floor buses have multiple.
He said there is a trend for low-floor buses, but that those buses have fewer seats, which will reduce capacity.
"On low-floor buses, you won't have a seat," he said. "We don't have capital funds to replace seat by seat the seats we lose."
He said the 158 buses replace others in the fleet that will be put out for auction.
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