New Jersey Transit has earned three capital construction awards. Also, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) Board has approved a new ambassador program to promote system safety.
New Jersey Alliance for Action on Feb. 25 recognized NJ Transit with Leading Capital Construction awards for its work on the Port North Bridge Project Construction Phase and on the Lyndhurst and Perth Amboy station projects. The alliance is a non-profit coalition comprising 2,500 corporate, labor, professional, academic and government leaders, whose mission is to “improve New Jersey’s economy through the promotion of capital construction and infrastructure investment.”
“We are very proud that NJ Alliance for Action … has recognized the caliber of work on these three critical capital projects,” NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett said. “We thank the Alliance for their continued partnership and support and look forward to continuing to work with them to build a brighter future for New Jersey.”
In October 2021, the NJ Transit Board of Directors approved a $1.56 billion contract with Skanska/Traylor Bros Joint Venture for the construction of the new Portal North Bridge on the Northeast Corridor, crossing the Hackensack River in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Portal North—part of the massive Gateway Program, which will eventually double rail capacity between Newark, N.J., and New York—will replace the 110-year-old Portal Bridge, a mechanical-trouble-plagued swing bridge built by the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1910 as part of its New York Improvements project.
NJ Transit in April 2021 broke ground on a new $31.5 million ADA-accessible facility in Lyndhurst that will replace the current 107-year-old train station; and in November 2021, it awarded a $45.5 million construction contract for Perth Amboy Station to upgrade and make the historic facility fully accessible with high-level platforms, elevators, and ramps.
At SEPTA, up to 88 ambassadors/guides will be assigned to stations and vehicles along the Broad Street and Market Frankford rapid transit lines, and to the concourses in Center City. The guides will “remind customers about the rules for riding, assist destination-less riders and contact police when needed,” the transit agency reported. “They will also eventually take over the responsibilities of opening and closing the subway stations, which will allow police officers to conduct more patrols during the overnight hours.”
The Board awarded contracts to Extrity, LLC; Scotlandyard Security Services, Inc.; and The Philadelphia Protection Unit, LLC, to provide services for one year, with options for two additional years. The contracts will replace the current security guard arrangement with Allied Universal, according to SEPTA. SEPTA will provide guide training.
The guides are part of SEPTA’s SCOPE (Safety, Cleaning, Ownership, Partnerships and Engagement) initiative to help with outreach to “members of the vulnerable population who seek refuge on the system,” the agency said. The Board expanded the initiative last September, adding more than 50 social workers, who also patrol with SEPTA Transit Police officers.
“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our riders and employees,” SEPTA Board President Pasquale T. Deon Sr. said.
“It is our hope that this new approach will help reduce quality-of-life complaints and make our system more welcoming to riders,” SEPTA General Manager and CEO Leslie S. Richards said.
“While the guides will not replace police officers or serve an enforcement role, they will act as a force multiplier and contribute to the overall security of the system,” SEPTA Transit Police Chief Thomas J. Nestel III said. “Meanwhile, we continue to actively recruit qualified officers to boost our ranks.”