Photo permit no longer needed for NJT

Michael Finfer, on the NYC.TRANSIT Newsgroup, received a letter from NJT saying that the permit and call in requirement for non-commercial photography has been cancelled.

A Brief History of the Photo permits for NJT

Prior to 2004, there was no formal procedure for getting permission to photograph NJT trains and staions. Although many railfans had been stopped, even while on public property, the issue was usualy resolved easily.
During 2004, the photo permit process was not impossible to deal with, however it didn't let you grab the camera and run, since you needed at least 36 hours lead time to secure the permit. An e-mail was to be sent requesting the permit including the dates, times, and locations you wanted to photgraph. You would then get a form to fill out and sign and return. In a return e-mail you would get the completed permit. If you had no e-mail of fax it would take longer for snail mail.
In 2005 a photo-ID cards was made available. The applicant needed to go to the Newark HQ and have their photo taken. Then at least 24 hours before a photo shoot, you need to call a number to let the NJT Police where you will be doing the photography. There was a toll free number, but I understand that it is only good in NJ. So fans living outside of NJ needed to call a regular number. Late in the summer of 2005, the officer answering your call asked you call again when you arrived on site.

Photo permit is for NJT trains only!?

On June 27, 2005, I ventured out to get some more photos at Hoboken and Secacus Transfer. At Hoboken I had no problems. An officer did come out to track 11, where I was working. I showed him the permit. He called in and verified that I had called ahead (I had called on the previous Friday) and wished me a good day and returned to the terminal building.
Secaucus was another story. I was told by the stationmaster(?) that I couldn't photograph on the NEC platform. The NJT Police didn't seem to care as long as I had the permit. I called the NJT police number on the permit, to verify this. The officer who answered couldn't tell me anything about the NEC there. He suggested that I contact the office that issued the permit. Not having the number of the permit department, I left it at that and took a few Hoboken service photos and returned to Hoboken.
When I got home I e-mailed the permit department and got some interesting replies when I asked about the NEC both at Secaucus and Newark as well as other locations where AMTRAK operates, but doesn't stop. According to them, the permit only allows you to take photos of NJT trains, no others. The following photos were taken in 2004 with a permit good for Trenton and the Riverline.

So this photo is not legal:

But this is:


Then there is the question of a mixed consist:

The train on the right is an NJT engine with MTA coaches. NJT still hasn't replied to tell me if this photo is legal.

Now as a reasonable (I think) person, who is concerned about post 9/11 security, I ask what is more important from the security point of view, the fact that there is an AMTRAK vs NJT train in the two scenes, or the fact that there is a station building and platform visible in both shots?
Then I searched the NJT web site for information about Secaucus. Skip the intro and click on the Junction Function and then Explore the Junction. Now what is a security risk? That page that shows a map with all the connecting stairs, elevators and other information or this photo?

I understand that this whole permit process was NOT approved by the NJT board. In fact, comments were due (by snail mail not e-mail) by June 30, 2005 for a vote later. Of course the rules were not easily obatained from NJT. I have seen a copy of the response from the NRHS about this. They had the time to review the proposed rules and pointed out many inconsistancies and unclear language in the document. So as we did last year, with the MTA, we have to wait.

When I called in my photo locations the day before, the officer asked me to call again when I got the locations. will they ever stop changing the rules? One Newark police officer stopped me while I was taking photos on the street. I showed him my NJT permit and he said OK. One of the construction guys wanted me to take his picture, but decided to back out as I raised the camera.


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2011 by Joseph D. Korman