NJ Transit Budget Holds Fares Steady For Third Year

NEWARK—NJ Transit approved a Fiscal Year 2013 operating budget and capital program yesterday that keeps fares steady for a third straight year.

“At only one-half of one percent, the operating budget growth for FY 2013 represents NJ Transit’s second lowest overall growth rate in the last 15 years,” said NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein. “By implementing sustainable and fiscally responsible operating and capital programs, we are able to maintain and enhance New Jersey’s robust transportation system while responding to the daily transit needs of our customers.”

The Board approved a $1.904 billion operating budget and a $1.152 billion capital program for the fiscal year that started July 1.

Nearly half of the revenue in the FY2013 operating budget comes from fares ($894.2 million), with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($109.8 million), capital transfers ($363 million), and state operating assistance as well as other state and federal reimbursements ($536.9 million).

The capital program funds continued state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure, supports an ongoing fleet modernization program and advances service reliability, safety and technology initiatives.

The capital program includes $63 million for investment in systemwide improvements, including $16 million for technology upgrades that improve the customer experience, such as NJ Transit’s Smart Bus initiative.

Rail infrastructure state-of-good-repair projects will be supported by $79 million in the capital program, including $56 million to fund track and bridge improvements, such as the renewal of the Rockaway River Bridge on the Boonton Line, and the rehabilitation of the Leland Avenue Bridge and the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge on the Raritan Valley Line. A total of $13 million will advance electric traction and signal improvements.

Rail rolling stock (rail cars and locomotives) improvements will be supported by $88 million in funding, continuing NJ Transit’s efforts to replace aging, single-level railcars with higher-capacity, multi-level railcars.

Rail station improvements will be supported by $16 million from the capital program. The capital program also includes $164 million for bus and light rail state-of-good-repair needs, including $2 million for Newark Light Rail infrastructure improvements and $111 million toward the purchase of new buses. With approximately 200 buses being replaced annually, NJ Transit’s renewed fleet will offer improved service reliability and upgraded, comfortable interiors for customers, while also meeting or exceeding the latest environmental standards by incorporating technologies to reduce exhaust emissions.

Roughly half of the capital budget comes from the Transportation Trust Fund, with the balance coming from federal and other sources.

NJ Transit also announced several planned changes to some bus routes, which will take effect on Sept. 1.

Four routes will be discontinued: No. 42 (Newark-18th Avenue), No. 43 (Newark-Jersey City), No. 75 (Butler-Newark) and No. 93 (Bloomfield-Newark Light Rail). Sunday service will be discontinued on route No. 181 (Union City-NY/GWB).

Five other routes will see service reductions:

  • No. 56 (Elizabeth/Cranford/Winfield): Widen peak hour headway from 25/40 minutes to 60 minutes
  • No. 57 (Elizabeth/Linden): Eliminate first/last round trips on weekdays
  • No. 258 (Bloomfield/Newark Airport): Eliminate University Heights Branch, adjust headway to 30 minutes all day
  • No. 451 (Camden/Lindenwold PATCO): Eliminate service between Voorhees Town Center and Lindenwold PATCO
  • No. 604 (Trenton/East Trenton): Eliminate some peak-hour service between Trenton Transit Center and Justice Complex

As a result of testimony during the public hearing process, NJ Transit decided to retain the No. 78 bus route between Newark and Secaucus.

The Bus Service Optimization initiative forecasts approximately $2.5 million in annual operating savings. Approximately $1 million of that money will be used to expand and enhance bus service within the City of Newark, in addition to key corridors between Newark, Newark Airport and Elizabeth.

This reinvestment of savings will be reflected in:

  • The restructuring of Route No. 62 (Newark-Woodbridge-Perth Amboy) into two separate routes, allowing for the creation of 24/7 service between the heavily-traveled Newark-Newark Airport and Elizabeth Corridor. Optimization reinvestment will increase bus service reliability, balance resources and help spur job access at the airport.
  • The extension of Route No. 99 (Newark-Hillside Cross-town) to the Branch Brook Park Newark Light Rail Station. Reinvestment will provide Newark residents and employees with connections to more than a dozen routes and access to the light rail system. It will also improve service to major medical facilities, schools and universities.

“This plan will help optimize NJ Transit bus operations for sustained, long-term growth, while also reinvesting critical resources to expand and enhance bus service within key transportation corridors,” said Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chairman James Simpson. “A direct result of NJ Transit’s Scorecard initiative, Bus Service Optimization will ensure that NJ Transit uses its limited resources to provide the best service to the most customers, all while keeping fares stable.”

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