In previous editions of NJ TRANSIT: Moving Forward, I outlined several major investments we have made — and are aggressively continuing to make — in equipment and personnel to provide a better experience for commuters and other riders of the nation’s largest statewide public transit system. In this and upcoming issues, I’d like to take a more in-depth look at some of these investments.

A Larger, More Modern Bus Fleet

People typically associate NJ TRANSIT with trains and light rail services, but we're also the state's largest (and the nation’s second-largest) bus operator, with more than 250 routes operated or contracted by the agency. In fact, we carry more people on our buses than any other mode of transportation. More than half a million of the 900,000+ daily riders who use NJ TRANSIT are bus riders. Our bus routes serve 386 New Jersey municipalities, with more than 3,000 buses, including private and contract carriers, providing about 15,800 trips on the average weekday.

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With so many buses transporting passengers between more than 16,100 bus stops, including routes to New York City and Philadelphia, to say that our bus system is a complex operation would be an understatement. As with any complicated transit network operating seven days a week, unforeseen issues occur. Along with an aging fleet that experiences mechanical issues, weather and driver availability can also impact the schedule. But overall, the NJ TRANSIT bus operation is an amazingly efficient and well-orchestrated system.

And we’re actively making it better. We have 182 dependable, efficient new cruiser buses being delivered this year. Beyond that, we have 85 new articulated buses and 183 more cruiser buses scheduled to arrive in 2020. Thanks to funding from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, we’re also moving forward with a purchase of eight (8) electric buses for a pilot program in Camden. This will enable transit to study the benefits and challenges of this promising alternative energy source.

Aggressive Personnel Recruiting

We have hired more than 600 new bus operators since I arrived last year. Each operator undergoes a full screening process and a thorough, structured training program. The new buses, in combination with the record-setting number of new operators, mean that we’re providing 1,900 additional passenger bus trips every weekday. That’s an additional 500,000 passenger trips each year.

Being a NJ TRANSIT bus driver is more than just a job — it’s a rewarding career. Our drivers are certified professionals earning a competitive salary and great benefits, some of whom have worked with us for decades. The time and effort we invest in putting trained, skilled drivers on the road translates into a more streamlined and dependable operation.

Thanks for taking the time to read my column and learn more about our extraordinary bus network, and the talented people who make it run every day. In future issues I look forward to sharing more about how we’re continuing to work hard to improve the customer experience across the organization, including how we’re leveraging technology to make information more accessible than ever for our customers.