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President Barack Obama yesterday created a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to help resolve an ongoing labor dispute between New Jersey Transit and the NJT Rail Labor Coalition.The board will make recommendations for a settlement within 30 days, White House officials said in a press release.The PEB is expected to begin its work July 27 and continue until July 31."The transit rail system is vital to our nation’s economy, and it’s crucial that we ensure it runs smoothly," Obama said in a statement.On June 30, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and other members of the NJT Rail Labor Coalition filed a request with the National Mediation Board for the creation of a PEB. Had Obama not honored the request, BLET members could have walked off the job today, since they had previously voted to authorize a strike.NJT Rail Labor Coalition represents several labor groups, including the BLET and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.Meanwhile, NJ Transit's board yesterday adopted a $2.099 billion capital budget and a $2.116 billion operating budget for fiscal-year 2016. The capital budget calls for spending $82 million on rail station improvements, in addition to allocating $61 million for the Northeast Corridor.The latter item is part of NJ Transit's 10-year, $1 billion Northeast Corridor investment program, according to a press release from the agency.The board also adopted a fare and service plan which includes an average 9 percent increase in fares, NJ Transit officials said.
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