NEWARK, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday spread a message of hope regarding future improvements to NJTransit services and infrastructure due to a proposed $242 million increase in funding for NJTransit for the 2019 fiscal year. 

At a press conference held at NJTransit’s Central Maintenance Facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark, Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and other officials spoke about how vital the bus service is to the lives of people in their communities. 

“For far too long, NJTransit  bus customers have had to face some harsh challenges in their daily commute to and from work,” said Murphy. “Today, I am pleased to announce we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to turn NJTransit around with improvements that will minimize delays, alleviate overcrowding, and invest in workforce capital to support bus services and enhanced customer service.” 

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Baraka told TAPInto Newark the commitment to improving the lives of commuters is of the utmost import. 

“I think it’s important because the governor is committing to transportation. It’s good to hear that he’s going to invest in infrastructure and transportation,” said Baraka, adding actions by former governor Chris Christie left roads in disrepair and that too many citizens depend on the NJTransit for the service to be neglected. 

The proposed $242 million represents a 172-percent increase in funding to NJTransit for the 2019 fiscal year. Improvements to NJTransit bus service would include: the addition of 40 additional bus operator positions, targeted relief of overcrowding on specific bus routes, using additional buses where needed to ensure customers arrive as close to on time as possible, and allow for more flexibility to help mitigate effects of external factors such as road construction.

“Thanks to the Governor’s focus on transportation, the resources in this budget allow us to address issues in a number of areas for our bus customers, who make up the largest segment of NJTransit’s operations,” said NJTransit Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “Providing targeted additional capacity and improved performance is the foundation for an improved customer experience.”

“This is how people get to work. This is not an amenity. This is a necessity,” said Sen. Patrick J. Diegnan, Jr. 

Murphy and others acknowledged the problems with long wait times and delays in service pointing to his predecessor’s mismanagement of funds as a huge part of the problem. 

Raymond W. Greaves, chair and business agent for the New Jersey State AFL-CIO, dubbed Murphy the “transportation governor.” 

“We have a transportation service that used to be the premier in the country and now it’s not even ranked in the top five. We’ve gone downhill over the years,” said Greaves, adding that under the Christie administration there was a 90 percent cut to operational funding along with a 36 percent increase in fares during the same eight-year period.  

The infusion of cash proposed by Murphy would not cause an increase in fares. 

“I’m extremely hopeful,” Greaves told TAPinto Newark. “This is our opportunity.”