NJ Transit Contingency Plan Just Another Example of New Jersey Transportation Barely Staying Afloat

Photo: Jim Maurer | Flickr

Contingency planning: Activity undertaken to ensure that proper and immediate follow-up steps will be taken by a management and employees in an emergency. Its major objectives are to ensure (1) containment of damage or injury to, or loss of, personnel and property and (2) continuity of the key operations of the organization.

Last week, New Jersey Transit released its contingency plan for moving commuters in the event of a pending rail worker strike on March 13. The plan, however, falls short of accommodating daily ridership: only 40 percent of the usual 105,000 commuters would have a way into Manhattan, stranding 65,000 rail riders.

“A rail stoppage would have a severe impact on travel in the entire region, as capacity constraints on both our public transportation system and our road network limit our ability to accommodate every displaced rail customer,” said NJ Transit Interim Executive Director Dennis Martin.  “NJ Transit will operate a plan that the overall system and region can safely handle to accommodate as many customers as possible who absolutely must travel into and out of New York, bearing in mind that bus service cannot replicate the railroad.”

No single mode of transportation can comfortably absorb another, and that’s especially true in New Jersey, where the shortchanging the state’s transportation network has become the norm. According to an analysis prepared by Tri-State and released as part of New Jersey for Transit Coalition, years of diminishing state subsidies to NJ Transit’s operating budget–90 percent decrease over the last 11 years–has forced the agency to transfer substantial amounts of money from its capital budget to its operating budget just to keep the wheels turning. As a result of these cannibalistic funding practices, transit expansion projects remain on the shelf while riders are forced to fork over more cash for inferior service. The source of state capital dollars, the Transportation Trust Fund, will run dry on June 30, and there is no solution in place. On July 1, the state won’t even be able to make repairs to its roughly 300 structurally-deficient bridges or the 66 percent of roads in poor or mediocre condition, never mind investing in transit needs essential to alleviating congestion.

Governor Christie’s (almost completed) 5-year capital program works much like NJ Transit’s contingency plan: getting the state through each year, but unable to meet the actual demands of the system. Patchwork funding schemes, one-shot gimmicks and debt may keep New Jersey’s head above water, but they all fall significantly short in the long term. It’s time for Trenton to stop with the contingency funding plans and agree on a real solution.

5 Comments on "NJ Transit Contingency Plan Just Another Example of New Jersey Transportation Barely Staying Afloat"

  1. Dare I say bike over the George Washington Bridge? The idea of connecting NYC and NJ sounds better and better.

  2. Dare I say bike over the George Washington Bridge. The idea of a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Hudson is looking better and better.

  3. Clark Morris | March 9, 2016 at 6:31 pm |

    Why should the general taxpayer pay for the operating costs of transit? The general taxpayer doesn’t pay the operating costs of the automobile. Transit gets to use the street and road system for the same or lower cost than the automobile (state fuel excise tax may be waived for transit and commuter buses) The taxpayer is providing the vehicle for the transit user while the automobile users pay for their vehicles.

  4. This highlights the real problem with transit in New Jersey: New Jersey tax payers are footing the bill for the highest wage earners to have a one seat ride into Manhattan. That is the real problem with NJTransit. It is not a New Jersey Transit Service; it is a New York Commuter rail paid for by people who can’t use it! When you look at where NJT spends its money, the vast majority is rail to NY jobs! It should come as no surprise that NJT workers have been able to capture State and National attention by simply affecting this one service. The bus/light rail services will continue during the strike.

    It is safe to say, a potential impact to NJT’s choice riders has raised more than an eyebrow.

  5. Clark Morris | March 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm |

    New York gets the income taxes of those who commute to New York. New Jersey gets the cost of getting them there. New Jersey should end all subsidy of transortation to New York.

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