New Jersey Transit is taking efforts to protect riders from the coronavirus and has seen fewer customers on its buses and trains this week, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Corbett shared at a meeting Wednesday night in Newark.
NJ Transit is working with the New Jersey Department of Health and the New Jersey Coronavirus Task Force. The agency says it has enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols at work locations, stations, facilities, onboard vehicles, and is coordinating closely with other public transit agencies in New Jersey and New York.
“Two days ago, we transitioned our internal coronavirus task force from the planning phase to the operational phase,” Corbett said. “As the governor’s administration leads a robust response to COVID-19, it is also leading the way through unprecedented investment in NJ Transit. Under Governor Murphy’s proposed $2.53 billion operating budget, the state would increase its investment in NJ Transit by $132 million, including a record total operating subsidy of nearly $600 million.
“Based on our progress and results over the past two years, I believe this is a testament to the governor’s confidence in our ability to effectively and responsibly use state funds we’ve been appropriated,” he continued.
Transit expects to hire 346 employees between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
The Transit board of directors also approved the purchase of 25, 60-foot articulated buses after receiving a recent grant award from the Federal Transit Administration. The purchase will exercise options included in a contract with New Flyer of America, previously approved in January 2019 for 85 articulated buses.
The 25 additional buses will be an expansion of the existing bus fleet, as opposed to replacing retiring equipment.
On the subject of federally mandated positive train control, Corbett explained that Transit will begin testing the emergency braking system on in-service trains throughout its network.
In other project news, Transit received six bids last month to replace the Raritan River Bridge, which is scheduled to begin this year.
On the Portal North Bridge project, Transit is entering the engineering phase, which is the next step toward a full funding grant agreement.
During public comment, Bay Head resident Edward Nolan, who owns a home near a proposed substation that the board approved in May 2019, voiced displeasure about not having received notification that the substation would be built.
“I am voicing concern that there are alternative sites that have been reviewed and some of these sites do not require impeding on Twilight Lake,” Nolan said.
His wife Ellen Nolan voiced similar concerns.
“Why would we have industrial activity in a location where people go to observe nature when there are other alternatives?” Ellen Nolan said.