Every day, thousands of commuters and businesses in New Jersey’s largest city depend on NJ TRANSIT to move people to and from their workplaces. Thousands of additional Newark residents rely on buses, trains and light rail to get them to schools, hospitals, shopping centers, and other destinations. Mass transit has played a vital role in Newark’s history, and NJ TRANSIT holds the key to keeping things moving in this bustling city.
Newark Regional Business Partnership’s (NRBP) 400+ members are engaged in a collaborative effort to continue Newark’s revitalization and strengthen the region’s economic competitiveness. Our members include some of our City and state’s top employers — Prudential, PSE&G, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Airlines, Panasonic, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, and Amazon’s Audible — as well as hundreds of other enterprises, professional firms, institutions, and non-profits.
As I stated in my recent testimony at Senate President Sweeney’s NJ TRANSIT Committee hearing, the agency has long been starved of the dedicated financial resources it needs to meet its riders’ needs. Years of neglect by previous administrations and legislatures that did not prioritize mass transit have resulted in a deep financial hole that will take years to surmount. In the face of this difficult journey, NJ TRANSIT’s present leadership is working toward this goal.
There’s a saying that the hour is always darkest before the dawn, and I truly believe that new light is on the horizon. Customers deserve a positive transit experience, and I know from first-hand experience that the team at NJ TRANSIT agree. Excessive cancellations and delays are unacceptable, but let’s not overlook the progress that has been made to address these decades-old issues.
NJ TRANSIT has announced that new locomotives, rail cars, and buses have been ordered. As we heard from labor union representatives at the hearing, new engineers, drivers, and conductors are being trained in far greater numbers than under the previous administration. Long-awaited repairs and station improvements have begun, and great strides have been made toward improving rider communications. I have personally found NJ TRANSIT President and CEO Kevin Corbett and his leadership team to be receptive to customer concerns, committed to the future, and focused on making the improvements we all know are required.
Echoing Senator Weinberg, I testified that NJ TRANSIT merits increased and dedicated funding. While NJ TRANSIT received an historic subsidy from the state’s General Fund this year, consideration should be given during next year’s budget hearings for additional appropriations for New Jersey’s mass transit system.
Turning around the country’s largest state transportation agency is not easy, or quick. I commend the new committee for hearing legitimate rider concerns and constructive recommendations. I also commend Mr. Corbett and his leadership team for their commitment to restoring the agency to its former glory. Let’s give them the time and resources they need to get the job done.