Once established in 1966, NJDOT became responsible for maintaining NJ rail passenger service. NJDOT contracted Conrail to operate NJ commuter lines from Conrailís formation in April 1976 until 1979, when the Public Transportation Act created NJ Transit. Passenger service continued under contract by NJ Transit with Conrail from 1979 until the end of 1982. On January 1, 1983 NJ Transit assumed passenger operations from Conrail.

NJDOTs pre-Conrail rail purchases included 13 EMD-GP-40Ps for CNJ in 1968, and 32 GE U34CHs for EL, and push-pull suitable Comet I Class coaches for their Hoboken lines in 1970.

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