NJ Transit Launches 10-Year Strategic, 5-Year Capital Plans

Written by Andrew Corselli, Managing Editor
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“Maintaining our vehicle fleets using new techniques like exterior wraps is consistent with NJ Transit’s mission to deliver maximum value to our customers in the most environmentally friendly way possible,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett.

Governor Phil Murphy and NJ Transit CEO and President Kevin Corbett unveiled NJ Transit’s 10-year strategic plan entitled—NJT2030: A 10-Year Strategic Plan—and a complementary 5-Year Capital Plan. Together, these plans aim to provide the vision for NJ Transit to build the future of transportation in New Jersey and, with it, “drive a 21st century economy in an accountable, transparent and environmentally-sustainable way.”

The primary focus of this plan, NJ Transit said, is putting customers at the center of the agency’s decision-making. Based on feedback from customers, elected officials, transit advocates and other external stakeholders, more than 100 specific strategic initiatives have been laid out for NJ Transit to achieve and implement between now and 2030.

As the first strategic plan of its kind for NJ Transit, NJT2030 begins with “a vision to transform the agency into an innovative, world-class public transportation provider that meets the travel needs of every customer.” To achieve that vision, NJT2030 establishes five over-arching goals:

  • Ensure the reliability and continued safety of the transit system.
  • Deliver a high-quality experience for all customers, with their entire journey in mind.
  • Power a stronger and fairer economy for all communities in the region.
  • Promote a more sustainable future for our planet.
  • Build an accountable, innovative and inclusive organization that delivers for New Jersey.

To realize these goals, NJT2030 includes deliverables within the first two years, in years three through five, and years six through 10 of the plan. Highlights include:

  • Improving on-time performance.
  • Increasing service on the most congested bus routes.
  • Rail and bus fleet replacement, including the advancement of the net-zero emissions bus program.
  • Upgrading information technology systems.
  • Station rehabilitations.
  • Improving accessibility to the system.

In addition to NJT2030, NJ Transit is issuing a rolling, unconstrained 5-year capital plan, which is a comprehensive capital investment strategy that describes what NJ Transit can achieve with sustained and dependable funding over an extended period. The Capital Plan includes more than 100 projects touching every aspect of NJ Transit service, including Access Link, Bus, Light Rail and Rail designed to establish NJ Transit as a world-class transit system.

The 5-Year Capital Plan establishes five performance indicators called “project values” that help translate NJT2030’s goals into metrics applicable to capital projects. The five project values are:

  • State of Good Repair.
  • Customer Experience.
  • Safety.
  • Resiliency.
  • Business Performance.

NJT2030: A 10-Year Strategic Plan and the 5-Year Capital Plan can be viewed at njtplans.com.

“Through these plans, we will build on the significant progress we’ve already made, support our state’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, and lay out a path forward for the next 10 years,” said Corbett. “The initiatives and metrics within these plans hold us accountable to our customers and stakeholders, while guiding our actions and decisions that will deliver a modernized, best-in-class transit system for the people of New Jersey.”

Retured Federal Transit Administration Region 2 official and frequent Railway Age columnist Larry Penner, “The Federal Transit Man,” comments:

“The success of New Jersey Transit’s future 10-Year Strategic Plan and 5-Year Capital Plan is dependent upon reliable capital funding sources. This is primarily a three-way dance involving what riders pay at the farebox and funding from Trenton and Washington. There continues to be good news from Washington concerning federal support for transportation. NJT is a direct recipient of FTA funding. This averages close to $700 million annually to support NJT bus, commuter rail, light rail and paratransit systems. This does not include several billion in 2012 Super Storm Sandy Relief and Resiliency along with 2020 Corona Virus CARE Act funding. NJT currently manages an active portfolio of ongoing capital projects and programs contained within $2.6 billion open federal grants.

The FTA recently announced $130 million in grant selections through the Low or No Emission Discretionary Competitive Grant Program, which funds the deployment of transit buses and infrastructure that use advanced propulsion technologies. NJT was one of 41 projects in 40 states and the District of Columbia will receive funding through the program. NJT will receive $7.1 million funding for the purchase of new electric buses for service expansion.

Selected projects nationally include the purchase or lease of buses powered by modern, efficient technologies, including hydrogen fuel cells and battery electric motors, and related infrastructure investments such as charging stations. NJT taxpayers and commuters will reap the benefits. NJT has an excellent track record in winning discretionary grants from the FTA, which supplement guaranteed annual formula funding.

Starting some time in 2021, New Jersey motorists entering Manhattan south of 60th Street will have to pay a congestion price toll. Will New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy ask New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Pat Foye for a fair share of these billions of dollars over the coming years on behalf of NJT?

There are other federal and local funding opportunities. NJT can request the Federal Highway Administration transfer of CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation Air Quality) and other flexible funds to FTA for transit capital projects.

NJT should consider not initiating any new system expansion projects until existing bus, commuter rail, light rail and paratransit equipment and facilities have reached SOGR (state of good repair) and meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Funding these projects gives you a better return on the dollar. Ensure that maintenance programs for all operating assets are fully funded and completed on time to ensure riders safe and reliable service. For example, three rail system expansion projects—the $619 million Third Track Between Warwick and Suffern, $752 million Leigh Third and Fourth Tracks and $474 million Westbound Waterfront Connector—would provide increased capacity and operations flexibility, and make sense, but all SOGR programs should still be given first priority for funding and completion. Previous New Jersey Governors found almost $1.3 billion in cash for the local share to obtain FTA New Starts funding for Hudson Bergen Light Rail Minimum Operating Segment One ($992 million), Segment Two ($1.2 billion) and Secaucus Transfer ($450 million).

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