(The Center Square) – NJ Transit is not equitably meeting the needs of the state’s diverse counties and should be split into an agency for the northern part of the state and one for the southern portion, according to a key finding of a new report from the Garden State Initiative.
“The Road to Equitable Transportation Policy in New Jersey: An Assessment of Cost Burdens, Gaps in Mobility and Recommendations for Reform” also concludes New Jersey’s reliance on the gas tax and toll revenue to fund the Transportation Trust Fund created regional and socioeconomic disparities between who funds and receives benefits. The diversion of gas tax and toll revenue to NJ Transit and the Gateway Program will present challenges to maintaining road infrastructure.
“So much of New Jersey’s transportation policies, both in the funding and implementation, are grounded in decisions that were made decades ago and are no longer equitably servicing the needs of our state’s diverse communities,” GSI’s president Regina Egea said in a news release. “This independent evaluation offers a path forward for our state to equitably pay-for and provide services across all 21 counties while preparing for the challenges posed by technological advancement.”
The report found NJ Transit has a bias towards heavy commuter rail in North Jersey. It also concluded that a failure to modernize NJ Transit’s pre-1970 bus routes has resulted in “transit deserts” in regions experiencing population growth, particularly senior citizens.
GSI offered six recommendations, including providing mass transit with a dedicated revenue stream, exploring alternative revenue mechanisms and keeping a deregulated auto insurance market. They also called on state lawmakers to eliminate the fuel tax revenue target and codify a limit on how much tax revenue the governor can divert.
They also suggested policymakers would benefit from hedging their bets on what technology – battery charges or hydrogen fill-ups – will win the future.
Spokespeople for NJ Transit did not respond to a request from The Center Square for comment.