FLEMINGTON, NJ - Hunterdon County CFO Janice Previte detailed the county’s inclusion of $1.084 million in C.A.R.E.S. Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) Grant Funding for the County LINK bus transit system, disbursed to Hunterdon through New Jersey Transit.

“This will enable our low-income and senior residents’ ridership to be expanded under the grant provisions,” she said. “The funding also will provide us with some additional safety measures related to enhancing the physical distancing measures aboard LINK vehicles, and things of that nature.”

The amount constitutes additional funds received for the 2020 Section 5311 program, which is partially federally funded and partially state funded. With a 4-0 vote (as Freeholder J. Matthew Holt was not present at the meeting), the resolution passed for the funding.

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Deputy Freeholder Director Sue Soloway said that, in 2018, the LINK system provided over 137,800 passenger trips. With her involvement on the Transportation Task Force, the conversations and topics there evoked interest in serving the public transportation and long-term planning needs for Hunterdon County residents.

On Aug. 4, Soloway reflected on the service the LINK provides to residents in need of transportation.

“At our January 2020 freeholder board reorganization meeting, I stated a chief goal for 2020 for Hunterdon County was to seek increased grant funding to the LINK system, in order to lower our county’s cost-share of the program,” she said. “The county’s cost-share runs about 40 percent of the LINK operation and, with this COVID-19 pandemic, as with so many businesses and activities, there’s been a downturn in non-grant revenues. We all know that our LINK bus operations remain vital for our county’s residents and particularly our senior community. Grant funding is a key part of maintaining this operation. These funds arrive at just the right time.”

Soloway commended the LINK transportation team in the County Department of Human Services, under Administrator Meagan O’Reilly, as they prepared and submitted the grant application to New Jersey Transit.

“Having the funds awarded is a major achievement by the team, and I extend our thanks, on behalf of the board, for a job well done,” she said.

At their March 17 meeting, the freeholder board authorized the county Department of Human Services to apply for and be the subrecipient of $156,000 in matching state grants funds through New Jersey Transit for the period of July 1 this year through June 30, 2021, in order to fund pieces of the LINK County public bus service for low-income Hunterdon residents. At the time, Previte explained that this was a repeat grant from NJ Transit, and would specifically provide transportation services “for employment and employment-related activities in a suburban setting.”

“This funds pieces of the LINK countywide bus both for their weekday evenings and Saturday runs to help people get to employment or employment-related activities in Hunterdon County,” Previte noted about the prior $156,000 grant.

Another agenda item related to the LINK system grant from NJ Transit and approved at the Freeholder Board’s Aug. 4 meeting, confirmed Hunterdon County’s compliance with Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. It prohibits unequal application of voter registration requirements, and racial segregation in schools, employment and “public accommodations.”

As a requirement for receipt of grant funding from NJ Transit for the operation of the LINK Transportation System, the freeholders approved a resolution confirming that the county government “complies with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and that it will adopt and implement the policies set forth in the attached document entitled Hunterdon County’s Title VI Program, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders is willing to adopt the Policy to confirm its compliance with laws prohibiting discrimination.”

Freeholder Director Shaun C. Van Doren was authorized to sign documents in connection with the resolution and confirming compliance.