Murphy details plan to revamp NJ Transit services
After an introduction from New Jersey Assemblyman John McKeon (D-N.J. 27) and discussion of the impending winter storms, in which the governor urged residents to use common sense and caution, Murphy addressed the crowd gathered at the Madison Train Station.
“Getting New Jersey Transit back on the right track and providing value again to our commuters is both one of our top priorities and at the same time one of our toughest challenges,” Murphy said.
He said that there will be no fee hike at least until the end of fiscal year 2019 — June 30, 2019 — approximately 15 months from today. He then highlighted the main areas of investment.
The NJ Transit workforce will receive $19 million, which includes funding to hire an additional 114 staff members to manage bus, rail, light rail, police operations and strategic administrative support services, he said.
There will be $21 million going toward bus facilities maintenance, technological software improvements and other programs in an effort to improve fiscal health of the transit system.
Bus and rail services, specifically into the New York and Meadowlands area, will be expanded with $4 million, which Murphy said should address interstate overcrowding. Another $4 million will enhance bus and rail scheduling “to ensure passengers have better communications and alerts, and better reliability,” Murphy said.
To put NJ Transit’s finances on a firm foundation, $148 million is going toward fixing structural shortfalls and decreasing reliance on “one-shot” sources of revenue.
The five investments Murphy discussed add up to $196 million, the bulk of the governor’s $242 million budget. The budget includes, but is not limited to, those investments, according to a from the Office of the Governor.
“The bulk of this is straight in from the state, financing the ‘turning the lights on in the morning’ operations of New jersey Transit, whereas in the past eight years we’ve taken from various other sources with one-shot gimmicks to fund the system,” Murphy said. “Those days are over.”
Those taxes include a millionaire’s tax, which he said will raise approximately $765 million.
Murphy is calling for a 10.75-percent marginal tax rate on incomes of people who make more than $1 million. In a tax proposal that totals approximately $1.6 billion, new taxes would include reinstating a 7-percent sales tax, sales taxes on ride-and-home-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb and taxes on recreational marijuana, according to the Targum.
Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, the acting commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation, spoke at the conference after Murphy.
“In transportation, the first and most important aspect of our job is to provide safe passage,” she said.
She thanked the governor for the proposed funding increase and discussed the role of transportation services. She said safe passage and reliability are priorities for NJ Transit and that Murphy’s investment will aid in accomplishing its goals.
NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said that being able to accomplish NJ Transit’s goals without a fare increase in fiscal year 2019 is important because the agency needs to produce tangible benefits that customers can see before asking them to pay more.
Corbett said the agency is committed to doing that.
"In two months we have begun changing the direction of New Jersey Transit," Murphy said. "We have installed strong, experienced leadership that was desperately needed, we have listened to rail commuters and taken steps to alleviate their headaches, and now we are putting the resources, financial resources, needed for the long term."