Newark Light Rail Gets Communications Upgrade

NEWARK, N.J. — New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness Director Richard L. Cañas joined N.J. Transit Police officials and representatives from Newark-area emergency response agencies to announce the completion of a communication system upgrade recently installed on Newark Light Rail that enables dozens of responding agencies to communicate via a common radio channel.

“Enhancing interoperable communications among and between first responders in this part of New Jersey because of its heavy reliance on the mass transportation network, like the Newark Light Rail, is a key component of our state’s homeland security strategy,” said Cañas. “We will continue to invest federal and state funds to ensure that emergency personnel are able to communicate in real-time during any type of emergency.”

“Effective communication is the backbone of our emergency response during any type of incident, and supporting interoperable communications on the Newark Light Rail represents a significant upgrade in our communication system,” said Assemblyman Frederick Scalera, who serves as Chairman of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee. “Executive Director Richard Sarles, Chief of Police Joseph Bober and Director Richard Cañas demonstrated swift leadership in analyzing the need for this system upgrade and making it a reality.”

“I commend the N.J. Transit Police Department for identifying the need for an interoperable communication system in the Newark Light Rail, and I thank Director Cañas for authorizing the funding that enabled us to address that need,” said N.J. Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles. “Communication between N.J. Transit Police and other responding agencies is vital during emergency situations.”

“Thanks to the funding provided by the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, we were able to close a critical communications gap on the Newark Light Rail system,” said N.J. Transit Chief of Police Joseph C. Bober. “We worked closely with local agencies—including Newark Police and Fire, the Essex County Sheriff’s Office and UMDNJ—to enhance communication capabilities in the light rail tunnel environment.”

The Interoperable Communication System enables dozens of responding agencies—including fire, police and EMS—to communicate with each other via a common radio channel, accessible from each department’s own radio equipment. The system includes 31 operational and response agencies.

With $2 million in funding provided by the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, N.J. Transit upgraded the communication system in the Newark Light Rail tunnel to support interoperable communications. As a result of the upgrade, personnel responding to an emergency on the light rail system will be able to coordinate their response and share critical information.

The need for the upgrade was identified during a functional exercise on the Newark Light Rail system that revealed a gap in communication among responding agencies.

The Newark Light Rail interoperable communication system was activated on Dec. 18, 2008.