NJ Transit’s second quarterly “Scorecard” results are in, and they aren’t anything to brag about. The agency’s overall score rose from 5.2 to 5.3 on a scale of 1 to 10, which NJ Transit still describes as “satisfactory” or “acceptable.” “Fares” and “on-time performance” remain the areas most frequently identified as in need of improvement system-wide. They are also the areas the agency has the least control over, pointing to the need for state policymakers to step up support for transit.
While light rail, bus, and Access Link (paratransit) all saw small improvements in overall customer satisfaction, rail scores dropped from 4.5 to 4.2. This does not come as a shock as rail commuters suffered through significant delays over the past two months due to electrical problems, equipment problems and most notably an Amtrak derailment in one of the Hudson River tunnels that brought the entire region to a screeching halt.
Another data point from the survey getting a lot of attention is the overwhelming demand for increased bus service out of the Lincoln Tunnel during the evening rush. Commuters are looking for an increase in bus services during the weekday PM peak and on weekday evenings, suggesting the need for an express bus lane in the evenings, which TSTC has long called for.
Investment in mass transit must be a priority and is key in resolving this transit debacle. But funding for transit is shrinking. In 2004, almost half of the state’s transportation capital budget went to mass transit. This year, NJ Transit is lucky to see a third. Don’t expect much improvement in on-time performance or service disruptions until this changes.
Almost 15,000 customers responded to the survey online and on transit vehicles during the summer months. Click here to sign up to take the current survey online. The agency is also holding listening sessions starting today.