Extra $50M in state funds for NJ Transit won’t be cut by Murphy
The $50 million added to the state budget by lawmakers for the subsidy to NJ Transit will remain in the spending plan when it is enacted Sunday by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Details on how the additional funding will be used was not made immediately available, but officials pointed to examples such as more quickly updating train stations – from escalators and bathrooms to public address systems.
“Now that we know we’re getting this additional money, we’ll begin the process of looking at how quickly we can put in those announcement systems,” said Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
She said commuters can make good decisions if good information is delivered – and they can hear it.
“It’s very frustrating, so it’s going to be important for us to make that a priority so people can clearly understand the message. And you know what, that’s half of our problem. Maybe more than that,” said Gutierrez-Scaccetti.
“We need to make certain that we have that done. So it’ll be a priority,” she said. “But this isn’t money that we planned on receiving, so we’re going to need a little bit of ramp-up time. But it will be very short.”
Murphy’s budget proposal included a net increase of $25 million in the subsidy to NJ Transit, including $100 million in the general fund subsidy offset by reductions in the amounts diverted from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and NJ Transit’s capital program.
Murphy credited Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg for a series of constructive meetings about NJ Transit funding that began in March, right after he proposed his budget.
“The reason why I’m prepared to go out on a limb and speak to that particular line item is this was one that got done the right way,” said Murphy, who will detail the changes he makes to the Legislature’s budget when he enacts it Sunday.
Murphy said he was willing to increase the state subsidy, so long as the amount diverted from the Turnpike Authority to NJ Transit was reduced by $25 million, as he planned. There is still $129 million being diverted from the Turnpike, which is down from $204 million two years earlier.
“The only caveat we had, other than we need to know where the resources are coming from, the revenues, is we would not relent on undoing the fund diversion,” Murphy said.
Murphy reiterated that bus and train fares won’t be increased in the new fiscal year, as has been said for months but was contingent on the details of the final state budget.
“And by the way, let me say it officially, fares will be held flat … at least until June 30, 2020,” Murphy said.