NEW JERSEY – NJ TRANSIT and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) Wednesday announced the programming of $43.6 million in federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funding to seven NJ TRANSIT projects which advance sustainability, bus garage electrification and first/last mile transportation solutions.
The funding will be made available to NJ TRANSIT as part of NJTPA’s Fiscal Year 2022-2025 Transportation Improvement Program.
“By working together at a regional level, we can identify, prioritize and advance critical projects to make the transit system more accessible and sustainable,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “The projects selected are exciting opportunities to continue promoting the electrification of buses, using solar power in bus shelters and modernizing our bus network to meet future transportation demand.”
“Public transit is vital to communities across the state, with people depending on it to get to work, buy groceries, and go to the doctors,” said Senator Bob Menendez. “I’m proud to have secured this funding which will advance critical NJ TRANSIT projects, and create a safer, more accessible, greener, and more sustainable transportation network. I’ll continue fighting for robust transportation funding, as it plays a critical role in getting residents safely to their destination and keeping our economy moving forward.”
“This federal funding will help modernize our state’s transportation infrastructure, create a cleaner, healthier environment, and make mass transit more accessible for New Jersey commuters,” said Senator Cory Booker. “I look forward to seeing the benefits these projects bring to our state’s economy and public health.”
“Working with the Biden administration, congressional Democrats are investing in our nation’s roads, bridges, tunnels, and trains. This $43.6 million in federal funding will help our region continue to play an essential role in America’s economy,” said U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., who helped approve this funding as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. “With this funding, our state will receive several upgrades to increase efficiency while strengthening environmental protections. I thank our partners at the NJTPA and NJ TRANSIT for their continued leadership and forward-thinking. These essential funds were made possible because Democrats have unified control of Congress and the White House and are still having a positive impact for New Jersey. This is tremendous news for our state and our region.”
“NJ TRANSIT and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority collaborated closely to select a slate of innovative, environmentally-friendly, and forward-looking projects to receive this vital federal funding,” said NJ TRANSIT President & CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “As a result, NJ TRANSIT will now advance seven key projects – improving service, first mile/last mile, and micro-mobility options for customers, while supporting New Jersey’s sustainability goals outlined in Governor Murphy’s Energy Master Plan.”
“The NJTPA staff worked closely with NJ TRANSIT to develop an innovative plan to use this funding that will not only benefit transit riders, but also our region,” said NJTPA Chair John W. Bartlett, a Passaic County Commissioner. “The bus electrification, pilot shuttle program, bicycle sheds and studies will help us meet the goals in our long-range transportation plan, by improving air quality, making transportation more accessible, and encouraging healthy alternatives. This is a great example of how we can use federal funding to make a difference for residents and commuters.”
The seven projects included in the funding allotment include:
- Hilton Bus Garage Electrification Project ($24.5M) – The Hilton Bus Garage electrification project is the next step in NJ TRANSIT’s progress to the transition to a fully zero emission bus fleet in accordance with state law. Efforts to date at Newton Bus Garage in Camden County focused on the implementation of a limited number of battery electric buses via plug-in charger. The Hilton Bus Garage electrification project in Essex County will implement an overhead pantograph charging system that is both hands-free for increased safety and scalable for mass-charging use. This project will provide a standardized overhead gantry system that will support the chargers and the charging cabinet equipment. Once designed and tested, the intention is to use the refined system to provide simple and efficient charging infrastructure that can be quickly implemented in the majority of NJ TRANSIT’s bus garages. The CRRSAA funding proposed for this project will pay for the pantograph charging system and supporting charging equipment.
- Microtransit Shuttle Pilot Routes ($7M) – NJ TRANSIT seeks to create two or more community shuttle services to provide first/last mile access to transit hubs, thereby extending the reach of transit to areas where traditional fixed route service may be infeasible or ineffective. The CRRSSA funds will support a multi-year shuttle pilot program in the NJTPA region that would offer on-demand service using smaller, accessible minibuses or vans, and hailed by an app or other suitable means. Pilot locations may include connecting residential areas of Monmouth County with the main Rt. 9 corridor, connecting two highly utilized bus corridors between Englewood and Teaneck in Bergen County or first/last mile solutions in the Port Newark/Newark Airport area.
- Solar Bus Shelters – Retrofit and New Design Constructability & Pilot Implementation ($6M) – NJ TRANSIT is undertaking the design of a new, state of the art solar powered, low maintenance bus shelter. The primary intentions are to improve safety by providing solar powered lighting, and to develop a practical but aesthetically pleasing shelter design. NJ TRANSIT is proposing a multi-pronged approach, including retrofit of up to 10% of existing bus shelters in the NJTPA region with solar lighting where feasible, as well as design of a new shelter which would be implemented through a pilot project, and then incorporated into the existing bus shelter program.
- Bike Sheds ($2M) – NJ TRANSIT is preparing an RFP to obtain a service provider to build, operate, and maintain bike “sheds” that can store multiple bicycles and scooters at rail and bus hubs. The intended sheds funded by the CRRSSA grant would be durable, secure, and accessible to users 24/7 through an app or other convenient method. These would encourage non-motorized first/last mile access to and from transit hubs in the NJTPA region.
- Electric Mini-Buses ($1.5M) – NJ TRANSIT operates minibuses in its Access Link complementary paratransit system and also purchases and distributes minibuses for use by county, municipal, and non-profit subrecipients of Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 and 5311 funds. There is growing interest in deploying battery-electric powered minibuses for these services, however, there is currently a low level of experience and readiness to purchase and use these vehicles in daily service. The CRRSSA funds would allow NJ TRANSIT to purchase up to five (5) battery electric minibuses and chargers to deploy in the NJTPA region as part of the Access Link fleet, potentially through a cooperative purchase with another state also pursuing battery electric minibuses. These would become a “living laboratory” to demonstrate how to operate, maintain, and schedule paratransit service for NJ TRANSIT and its subrecipient partners.
- Local Electric Vehicle Minibus Transition Study and Technical Support ($1M) – Interest in transitioning to battery-electric minibuses by NJ TRANSIT’s Access Link paratransit system, and local and non-profit recipients is growing, and electrification of buses is a key regional greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Small transportation providers face challenges transitioning to an electric vehicle (EV) fleet, including cost, procurement, charging facilities, maintenance and safety, driver training, and adjustment of routing and scheduling to meet the operational characteristics of EVs. The CRRSSA grant will fund a study led by NJ TRANSIT, with consultant support as needed, to characterize the knowledge gaps in the transition to EV minibuses and provide technical assistance to subrecipients in the NJTPA region and Access Link looking to deploy electric minibuses. This study will also develop guidance for local and non-profit providers of transit service and support the state and local EV Infrastructure Deployment Plans.
- NewBus Hudson ($1M) – This bus network redesign project aims to better understand ridership trends and other barriers to mass transit usage in Hudson County. Study tactics include a market assessment of specific localities and potential customers to determine effectiveness and competitiveness of transit options; service evaluation, an analysis of strengths, deficiencies, gaps, and opportunities of the existing local bus network; and stakeholder and public involvement intended to develop a comprehensive Public Involvement Plan that identifies a range of outreach approaches targeting key internal and external stakeholders. Using the data collected, NJ TRANSIT will create service and capital plans, which are expected to include strategies and solutions for addressing a regional decline in bus ridership.