Tri-State Transportation Campaign

NJT Board Meeting, November 9, 2011
Testimony of Janna Chernetz, NJ Advocate

Good morning.

The effort NJT is making to reach out to customers is a step in the right direction. But the lessons learned from public outreach are not new and can be linked to one fundamental issue – lack of adequate funding for mass transit in NJ.

NJ is investing a historically low amount on NJT. In 2004, it was half of the NJDOT capital program. In 2012, that number is only a third. Federal funding is at risk as well.

There is no reason for this lack of prioritizing proper funding. Pursuant to a recent Monmouth poll, 69% of New Jersey residents say that having a good system of roads and public transit is very important for the long term future of the state. This is a top priority for residents and it should be for NJ.

It goes without saying, but these past few months have been a nightmare for commuters; just look as recently as yesterday’s wire fiasco in Metuchen. Ailing infrastructure is to blame (aside from Mother Nature). But ARC would have provided the redundancy that the system needed to handle these curve balls. It is clear that increasing capacity is necessary. The cancellation of ARC and the slashing of the PANYNJ capital program communicates to commuters that the state and its agencies are ignoring the demands of commuters.

I stress these points as discussions will begin shortly for the FY2013 NJDOT capital program.

While commuters would love better communication to know that they will either be 10-15 minutes late to work or appointments (or in some cases, not make it in at all); wouldn’t the better solution be to invest in infrastructure --- keep it in a state of good repair --- and invest in new mass transit capacity so that the announcements do not need to be made in the first place?

Better communication does not get the 247 million customers that use some form of NJT to where they need to be on time -- investing in transit does.