MAPLEWOOD, NJ — US Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ 11) made a joint announcement today, Dec. 13, of the award of $17,275,000 in federal transportation funding to New Jersey. Speaking in front of a brand new, 60-foot-long articulated bus at the NJ TRANSIT Hilton Bus Garage, they each elaborated on the purpose of the funds: to expand rider capacity and reduce wait times along dozens of NJ TRANSIT routes in Essex, Bergen, and Hudson Counties.
New Jerseyans “live in the most transit intensive region in the country,” said Menendez. “This investment will help NJ TRANSIT reduce overcrowding, cut wait times, and bring relief to riders. The federal bus and bus facilities grant will be paired with a 20 percent local match. These dollars will support the purchase of up to 25 new articulated buses.”
The longer buses with accordioned centers accommodate 99 riders (59 seated and 40 standing) which is an additional 42 passengers compared to a standard 40-foot bus. “With larger buses, fewer riders will be stuck out in the cold waiting for a bus or watching full ones pass them by. They’ll also be more likely to get a seat rather than endure having to stand up their entire commute. Fewer, better buses mean fewer breakdowns and delays,” said Menendez.
The new buses will be positioned at the Hilton Bus Garage, the Big Tree Bus Garage in Nutley, and the Fairview Bus Garage in Bergen County. They will serve 27 overcrowded bus lines, said Menendez. The new buses are outfitted with wheelchair lifts and have USB charging outlets under some seats.
Since this is a one-time grant, Menendez said he will be working on “a new transportation bill next year, to reauthorize this and other vital grant programs.”
Although an articulated bus is 50 percent longer, Sherrill said she was told “that it’s easier to drive than the old buses because of the [tighter] turn radius,” but joked to Menendez that she would still rather fly a helicopter, a nod to her role in her past military service.
Sherrill noted that “our state sits at the epicenter of the northeast corridor. And our transit system not only provides transit for New Jerseyans, but links the region that produces 20 percent of our nation’s GPD.”
NJ TRANSIT President and CEO Kevin Corbett also spoke at the press conference. He added that in addition to the purchase of the buses, NJ TRANSIT has hired more than 650 new bus operators since January 2018 and purchased nearly 270 additional buses to go into use in 2020. That “will result in nearly 2,000 more passenger trips each weekday,” Corbett said.
Sherrill pointed out that many commuters are also parents who want to get home from work to their families. “Across the state more than half a million residents commute on NJ TRANSIT buses each week," she said. "This grant will be used not just to improve the bus system, but quality of life for our residents.”