Newark now has access to special funding, state aid and bureaucratic priority following an Oct. 22 announcement designating it as the state’s 34th Transit Village.
The Transit Village program was started in 1999, with the goal of developing pedestrian and bicycle-friendly downtowns around key train and bus train stations across New Jersey. By cutting down on driving, more people will be inclined to walk around town an patronize local businesses.
Municipalities that earn the Transit Village status from the Department of Transportation are eligible for state funds and are put in the front of the line for other dollars they may have been seeking.
“Newark has been undergoing a renaissance for the past several years, and this designation is a recognition of the city’s continued growth, revitalization, and success,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement.
Newark had been trying to design such a downtown through the creation of a “regional bus hub” at the intersection of Broad and Market Streets. The area features “multiple institutions of higher learning, entertainment venues, residential incubators, and a cluster of corporate headquarters” to the intersection,” according to Murphy’s office.
Within several blocks of the intersection are some of Newark’s namesake institutions, including the Prudential Center arena and the financial giant’s headquarters, the Gateway Center Plaza, PSEG’s main corporate offices, the Seton Hall Law School and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.
There are 63 bus stops, three light rail stations and the historic Newark Penn Station within the district, and 17 bus routes converge at the Broad-Market Street stop, which serve a combined 80,000 passengers, according to the governor’s office.
Murphy’s office said the plans in place at Newark promoted more mixed-use development — retail, residential and commercial space — and reduce automobile dependence with “public transit, pedestrian, and bicycle accommodations.”
“It’s been important to my administration to enhance public transit, strengthen our economy, and provide affordable and market-rate housing,” Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said in a statement.