For New Jersey Transit, the days of subsisting on a starvation capital diet imposed by former Gov. Chris Christie appear over. On March 26, the agency hosted an open house for prime contractors, small businesses and DBEs (Disadvantaged Business Enterprises), the first such event in 10 years. On the table: More than $800 million in contracting opportunities for capital projects that will be available in the upcoming year.
The $13 billion Hudson River tunnel project, aimed at building two new rail tunnels between New York and New Jersey, is again facing funding problems after federal authorities announced a rating that means the project remains “ineligible for critical grant funding.”
By 2026, provided the procurement is fully funded and all options are exercised, New Jersey Transit—empowered by an infusion of much-needed funding by Governor Phil Murphy following a starvation diet imposed by his predecessor, Chris Christie—will have replaced its entire fleet of aging single-level cars with nearly 650 new Multilevels, many of which will be powered electric vehicles, the first of their type in North America.
New Jersey Transit announced Dec. 5 that Positive Train Control is “95% complete” toward meeting compliance with the Dec. 3, 2018 interim deadline. Concurrently, the agency launched “a new comprehensive communications initiative aimed at improving the customer experience” and announced a procurement for new multi-level railcars.
It’s going to take a while for New Jersey Transit to dig itself out of the oversize trench that oversize-ego, oversize-mouthed “Bridgegate” Chris Christie gleefully dug for it during his eight interminably long, interminably loud and intrinsically corrupt years as governor of the Garden State. Meanwhile, NJT customers are enduring the effects of Christie’s transportation starvation diet—a locomotive engineer shortage, cancelled commuter trains, and a PTC implementation program that’s behind schedule.
New Jersey Transit, the nation’s third-largest public transportation agency, on Aug. 8 adopted a Fiscal Year 2019 budget consisting of $2.32 billion in operating expenditures and a $1.46 billion capital program. The budget, which NJT stressed does not include any fare increases, “supports continued investments in personnel, infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state-of-good-repair and enhance the overall customer experience.”
New Jersey Transit’s Board of Directors on June 13 approved a financing agreement with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) that provides up to $600 million toward the construction of the first phase of a new Portal Bridge, a key component of the ambitious Gateway Project to improve passenger rail service between New York City and New Jersey. The funding commitment “solidifies New Jersey’s local share of the project cost,” NJT said.
New Jersey Transit, which not so long ago was called a “national disgrace” by then-Governor-elect Phil Murphy, has been named to the Forbes annual America’s Best Employers 2018 list. So much for politicians.
As is the tradition in New Jersey, the state I’ve called home since birth, the incoming governor 1) trashes New Jersey Transit and 2) proceeds to “fix” everything by cleaning house and starting fresh. This political circus has been going on since the state took over a collapsing commuter rail system in the early 1980s. So what else is new?
New Jersey Transit Executive Director Steve Santoro, who has spent 18 years with the agency, submitted his resignation to New Jersey Transportation Commissioner Rick Hammer on Jan. 5. He will be leaving in April and said he is “committed to ensuring a smooth transition for the new administration” of incoming Governor Phil Murphy.