The NJ Transit (NJT) Board of Directors adopted a fiscal year 2021 operating budget that does not raise fares and approved a Five-Year Capital Plan, which focuses on infrastructure investments throughout the state.
“The budgets presented allow NJ Transit to continue to provide necessary service to our customers and make improvements to an aging system,” said Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, NJT Chair. “We look forward to implementing a robust capital program that will provide both the service and facilities that our customers deserve.”
Both the budget and capital plan will help advance the department’s 10-year Strategic Plan (NJT2030).
Third Year without Fare Increase
The $2.6 billion fiscal year 2021 operating budget was applauded for not including a fare increase, the third straight year that this has occurred.
“We’re especially pleased to be able to keep fares stable this year, as we know how critically important mass transit is for essential workers and our transit-dependent customers, many of whom are facing financial uncertainty as a result of the (coronavirus) pandemic,” said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit President & CEO.
Approximately 14% of the budget’s revenue comes from passenger revenue. The remainder comes from a combination of commercial revenue and state and federal resources, which includes $1.4 billion in CARES Act funding.
“We are grateful for the federal CARES Act relief that is integral to continuing NJ Transit’s operations during this challenging time,” said Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who serves as commissioner of the state’s Department of Transportation as well.
Approximately $1.53 billion of the operating budget is dedicated to costs associated with labor and benefits.
Job-related achievements cited by the department included increasing the number of active roster locomotive engineers to 373 from 331 in just two years, hiring more than 800 bus operators since January 2018 and saving more than $28 million in targeted health benefit reforms.
Costs associated with COVID-19-related response measures were included in the budget, such as enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, materials and supplies, and employee testing.
The budget provides for the hiring of additional safety and field investigative staff, additional Locomotive Engineer Training Program (LETP) classes, an increase in New Jersey Transit Police Department members to allow for an improved police presence along the transit network, enhanced customer engagement and feedback capabilities and technology upgrades.
The FY 2021-2025 Capital Program will prioritize investments in transit stations and infrastructure, as well as improve the customer’s overall transportation experience.
The program will focus on enhancing reliability, safety, and resiliency, which includes fare modernization, safety initiatives, bus and rail car purchases, Positive Train Control installation and support for local mobility programs.
The plan contains two sets of projects:
- The first set includes $11.2 billion of projects already funded by existing or expected resources.
- The second set identifies another $5.8 billion worth of proposed projects for which funding has yet to be identified but vital to NJT’s service delivery.
Activity continues on two major construction projects started in 2020: the Long Slip Fill and Rail Enhancement Project (total project cost $195 million) and the Raritan River Bridge Replacement project (total cost $595 million).
Other major active construction projects remain on schedule, including the Elizabeth Station project (total cost $76 million), the Hoboken Depot Substation (total cost $34 million) and the Henderson Street Substation (total cost $39 million).
Two other station rehabilitation projects—Lyndhurst Station (total cost $35 million) and Perth Amboy Station (total cost $47 million) are scheduled for award during this current fiscal year.