September 13, 2017
For immediate release
Trust Fund Replenishment Doesn’t Make Up for Years of Neglect
TRENTON (Sept. 13, 2017) — Steps taken last year to replenish the state’s Transportation Trust Fund “barely respond to needs that have compounded after so many years of neglect,” a new report from The Fund for New Jersey says.
The report, “Transportation Must Again Be the Backbone of New Jersey Economy,” is the fourth in the Crossroads NJ series aimed at informing public debate in this pivotal election year. It was produced by The Fund for New Jersey, which since 1970 has focused its philanthropy on improving the quality of life in the Garden State by supporting good policy decision-making. The other Crossroads NJ reports cover the state’s fiscal crisis, jobs and the economy, criminal justice, education, housing and land use, and transportation.
The full text of the reports, as they are released, and other information about Crossroads NJ is available at http://www.fundfornj.org/crossroadsnj.
“Rather than responsibly educate the public about the value of mobility to the state’s prosperity and the need for investment to maintain a robust transportation system, policy makers have dismissed the warning signs and allowed transportation operations to become inadequate and unstable,” according to the report. It calls for sharp changes from current policies, including:
- Prioritizing critical interstate connections, beginning with the trans-Hudson Gateway projects
- Developing, maintaining, and modernizing a robust, financially stable transportation network
- Streamlining administrative structures to improve planning and increase public engagement
- Embracing new technology to improve safety and reduce costs
Key recommendations include:
PRIORITIZING CRITICAL INTERSTATE CONNECTIONS
- Finish the Gateway projects — including constructing two new rail tubes into New York Penn Station, rebuilding the existing two North River tunnel tubes, expanding Penn
Station’s platforms and tracks to a “Penn South Annex,” and constructing the Bergen Loop connection.
- Protect New Jersey’s interests in every step of development and construction of a new or expanded Port Authority bus terminal, making sure the project includes road links connecting to the Lincoln Tunnel that can accommodate the growing number of buses, and that convenient connections to the subway system and pedestrian street network are provided.
A ROBUST, STABLE TRANSIT NETWORK
- Eliminate temporary, inappropriate funding sources for the NJ Transit operating budget and the uncertainty that threatens the agency’s stability and efficiency.
- Strong consideration should be given to ending dependence on Turnpike Authority revenues to provide stability for NJ Transit’s future operating budgets. Turnpike funds could appropriately be used to support NJ Transit capital improvements, but operating support must come from other sources such as (1) motor vehicle license and registration fees, beyond sums needed for Motor Vehicle Commission improvements, and (2) new taxes on real estate transactions or business payrolls, following the pattern of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority.
STRUCTURAL STREAMLINING AND PROMOTING PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT
- Change NJ Transit’s governing structure to be more accountable to the public and more representative of everyone with a stake in a strong mass transit system.
- Bring the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and South Jersey Transportation Authority into the state Department of Transportation.
- To help restore public confidence in how the state deploys capital resources and better inform New Jerseyans about transportation issues and priorities, create an online information tool.
EMBRACING NEW TECHONOLOGY
- Examine using ride hail contractors to provide specialized transportation services (such as for the elderly and disabled) and to replace low-density and special-market bus service.
- Pursue ways for New Jersey to lead in development of self-driving car technology.
The Crossroads NJ series presents evidence-based policy recommendations, generated and vetted by experts. The Fund’s aim is to present a set of balanced and constructive recommendations that build a foundation for discussion, that The Fund for New Jersey Trustees feel are sound and workable.
Consistent with its status as a philanthropic foundation, The Fund for New Jersey does not support candidates or political parties.