PERTH AMBOY — A report by New Jersey Future proclaimed the importance of transit-oriented development like the transit village Billy Delgado proposed for the area around Perth Amboy’s train station.
Delgado kicked off his campaign for mayor with a transit oriented development plan for downtown revitalization centered on a proposal that the rail station can create a foundation that will create jobs, lower taxes and enhance business opportunities for merchants.
New Jersey Future’s research director, Tim Evans, has spent 3 1/2 years compiling information about New Jersey’s 205 rail stations, 16 major bus depots, 12 ferry terminals and 10 facilities that have more than one mode of transportation.
Although it was not specifically mentioned in the study, Delgado’s plan for Perth Amboy calls for NJ Transit to make a $50 million investment rehabilitating the station to become an anchor for about $1 billion in private sector development of a transit village.
Evans’ report shows that train stations make older New Jersey towns desirable for a new generation of commuters who have expressed a preference for driving less and walking more in places where employers will be increasingly accessible to a workforce that wants multiple transportation options.
Transit Village designations have been awarded to 26 Garden State communities so far, but Perth Amboy has not even applied since the program was inaugurated in 1999, according to LeRoy H. Gould, the principal planner at the state Department of Transportation. The report noted that 11.2 percent of New Jersey commuters use mass transit to get to work — a greater share of employed residents than in any other state except New York.
Delgado said he is advancing substantive ideas to heal the city’s greatest ailments because it is disrespectful to voters to merely complain about problems.
“Together there is nothing we cannot accomplish, so there is no excuse for the failure of this city to stop its six year plague of higher taxes,” said Delgado. “When it started, we fired the mayor. Four years and five tax hikes later, we clearly need to fire another mayor but I want to show how I will address the problem and stop the tide of rising taxes.”
“Over the past four years, the number of rail passengers boarding at the 84-year-old Perth Amboy station has fallen 25% and fewer trains stop here but the current administration failed to ask for designation as a transit village,” said Delgado.
Rather than allowing transit resources to languish, Delgado said that Perth Amboy would be as suitable location for a bus terminal as New Brunswick, Iselin and East Brunswick since the city has bridge access to New York City, a train station and major roadways including I-287, the Parkway and Route 9.
Albert L. Papp, Jr. of the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), said the transit village concept has proved successful elsewhere but the city’s effort has been lacking, disconcerting and even secretive.
Papp said his requests for information about the station improvement design from City Hall went ignored for six months or more and Thomas Clark, the regional manager of Government & Community Relations for New Jersey Transit Corporation, confirmed the agency is only giving updates to the Mayor’s office “per Mayor Wilda Diaz request.”
Delgado said his campaign is more about advancing Perth Amboy than casting criticism against his opponent, noting that he previously ran for mayor against then-incumbent Joe Vas in 2004.
“From the train station up to Convery Boulevard and over to New Brunswick Avenue, down past State Street to the waterfront, building a better Perth Amboy has to begin somewhere and this transit village is our most logical starting point,” said Delgado. “Perth Amboy needs a mayor who will shepherd projects like these all the way to fruition because it is good for our community and benefits the people who live here.”