Lawmaker says NJ Transit needs more money — and here’s how it could get it
If you rely on mass transit to get to work, it’s something you’re already very familiar with.
Because of ongoing equipment malfunctions and an assortment of other problems with an aging and overburdened rail infrastructure, NJ Transit train riders continue to face numerous delays.
After touring the crash site at Hoboken Terminal where a train slammed into a wall in September, an accident that killed a woman and injured more than a hundred others, state Sen. Bob Gordon, the chairman of the Senate Oversight Committee, said a dedicated long-term funding source funding needs to be established to support NJ Transit.
“You look at all the mass transit systems around the country, they can plan long-term because they know how much money they’re going to have five years down the road,” he said.
So where will this money come from?
Gordon said one idea that should be explored is “to lease the air rights over state property, and perhaps we can dedicate those funds to transportation.”
He noted another possibility is “we may need to look at the leases for the rest stops along the Turnpike. Maybe we take some of that money and dedicate it to transportation funding.”
He said with all of the development that’s going on in cities across the Garden State, “perhaps we need to think about creating a pot of money that the developers would contribute to because they’re creating a good deal of demand for these facilities.”
He pointed out when a company moves into a new headquarters or mall in the suburbs, state law now gives the local planning board the right to ask for a contribution for things like a new fire truck or a traffic light.
“We should do the same thing in our urban areas where the growth, which has been great for our cities, is also placing a great burden on our infrastructure, the developers should be making a contribution toward that.
The Bergen County Democrat said this kind of a plan would need “some kind of an objective formula where if you were building so many units, or so many feet of space, there would be so many dollars expected.”
He stressed this money should be dedicated to transportation related projects and nothing else.
“The time has come to turn this around. None of us should be surprised that the system is starting to fall apart,” said Gordon.
He hopes the next governor, "whoever he or she may be, will be a transportation governor, focused on restoring the quality of service that the people of this state deserve.”
Besides increasing funding for NJ Transit, Gordon believes we need a new Port Authority Bus Terminal, additional ferries, and help from our federal representatives to get more money for the Gateway train tunnel project that would expand rail service between New Jersey and New York.
“Given the risks of failure, there simply is no time to waste. We need to get this underway as soon as possible,” he said.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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