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The Commissioner's Report


Good public transit can help ease congestion

NJ TRANSIT was created 25 years ago, taking over rundown transit services and facilities from bankrupt railroads and bus lines. Today, NJ TRANSIT carries 223 million passengers a year aboard 240 bus routes, 12 commuter rail lines, and two light rail lines over a 5,000 square-mile service area, with a third light rail line scheduled to open soon. Demand for rail service to mid-Manhattan alone has tripled and, according to the 2000 Census, the percentage of New Jersey workers using transit has increased for the first time in 40 years.

With over $4.8 billion provided from the Transportation Trust Fund, NJ TRANSIT has rebuilt and expanded New Jersey's public transit system. But transit service also has felt the impact of growing traffic congestion in New Jersey as more travelers are shifting to trains and buses, creating congestion on our railroads and impacting bus operations. In addition, one of every 10 New Jersey households does not have access to a car and therefore must rely on transit. And with our senior population projected to grow 39 percent by 2020 (more than twice as fast as the general population), further dependence will be placed on transit.

NJ TRANSIT estimates the state's rail and bus system will need $18 billion over the next 10 years to maintain its existing network and expand services. With the prospect of building new roads now financially and environmentally prohibitive across much of New Jersey, transit offers a more attractive alternative. In particular the Newark-New York section of the Northeast Corridor, including the Hudson River tunnels, is a two-track bottleneck that must be expanded, while a second track needs to be added to sections of the Atlantic City Line to improve its operation.

NJ TRANSIT must replace 13 miles of track every year, maintain 118 train stations and bus terminals, and ensure 600 bridges are kept in good condition. The agency plans to improve or convert 56 low-level boarding stations to high-level platforms that provide safer and faster boarding, and to extend electrification of the Morris & Essex Line from Dover to Netcong.

In addition, transit will play an increasingly critical role in supporting Smart Growth. The availability of transit can allow greater densities for commercial development while it reduces the real estate costs associated with parking. About 16 million square feet of commercial development is now under construction along the Hudson-Bergen light rail line, including the state's tallest building being constructed for Goldman Sachs. And frequent, reliable transit service provides access to a larger labor market as commuters can travel greater distances.
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  Department of Transportation
  P.O. Box 600
  Trenton, NJ 08625-0600
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  Last Updated:  January 19, 2005