NJ Transit adopts fiscal year 2019 operating, capital budgets

NEWARK, NJ — On Aug. 8, the NJ Transit board of directors adopted a fiscal year 2019 operating budget and capital program that supports continued investments in personnel, infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state-of-good repair, and enhance the overall customer experience, according to a press release from NJ Transit.

“These budgets are the result of the firm commitment from Gov. Murphy to investing in and improving public transportation and infrastructure,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, who is also the NJ Transit board of directors chairwoman, in the press release.

The board adopted a $2.32 billion operating budget and a $1.46 billion capital program for FY 2019. This budget does not include a fare increase for FY 2019.

“The operating and capital budgets represent balanced, fiscally-sound spending plans, which keep fares stable and allow for long-needed investments as we continue our commitment to safety,” NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett said in the press release. “This budget will allow us to continue to serve the needs of our customers who rely on NJ Transit for life’s everyday commitments.”

More than 40 percent of the revenue in the FY 2019 operating budget comes from passenger revenue. The remaining amount comes from a combination of state and federal resources. Total operating assistance increases by $241.6 million, reflecting Gov. Phil Murphy’s commitment to providing an adequate funding level that will help meet the operating needs of the agency, according to the release.

The capital program funds continue state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure, investments in the Northeast Corridor, safety initiatives, Positive Train Control installation, system expansion, and support for local mobility programs.

Approximately 60 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to costs associated with labor and fringe benefits. Other significant expenses include contracted transportation services and fuel, power, and materials, which together comprise approximately 25 percent of the operating budget. The budget also allows for the expansion of personnel in key areas within bus, rail, light rail, police operations and strategic administrative support services; these critical positions include training instructors, trainmasters, road foremen, regional supervisors, engineers and conductors.

The FY 2019 capital program continues to prioritize investments in infrastructure to maintain an overall state-of-good repair, and enhance reliability, safety and resiliency, as well as improve the overall customer experience on the system.

With the FY 2019 capital program, NJ Transit continues its financial commitment to Positive Train Control and meeting federal milestones by the end of 2018. The capital budget includes a $23 million installment for NJ Transit’s ongoing efforts to install PTC. Approximately $291 million will be invested in rail infrastructure improvement needs, including $17 million for bridges, $3 million for Brielle Drawbridge replacement design, $14 million for Portal Bridge North, and $80 million for Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act.

The program continues to invest in railroad bridge rehabilitation, track replacement, signal upgrades, and repairs to overhead power lines and electric substations, as well as investments into the state-of-good-repair of the Northeast Corridor, the agency’s most utilized rail line.

Additional highlights of the capital program include approximately $30 million in rail station improvements: $9 million for Elizabeth Station improvements, $4 million for Perth Amboy Station, and $7 million for other station and terminal improvements, inspections and repairs.

The program also supports continued investment in rolling stock renewal, with $107 million invested in rail rolling stock improvements, including $5 million to continue funding for locomotive overhauls to maintain reliability and $102 million for the purchase of 113 Multilevel III and 17 dual-power locomotive rail vehicles. Additionally, there will be $151 million invested in bus and light rail infrastructure improvements, which comprises $7 million for Access Link bus replacement, $7 million in Market Street Garage rehabilitation work, $9 million for the capital asset replacement programs for both the Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail systems, $6 million on Ferry National Transit Database capital improvements and $100 million for cruiser bus replacement.

A total of $148 million will be invested in systemwide improvements including $6 million for safety improvements and $11 million for technology improvements. The budget allows for $39 million in system expansion improvements, including $34 million for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Northern Branch expansion, $2 million for the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Route 440 improvement and $3 million for transit rail initiatives.

Also, there will be continued support for local mobility programs. A $40.7 million portion of the budget will provide funding for enhanced mobility services for senior citizens and those with disabilities in both urban and rural areas.

Approximately 54 percent of the capital budget comes from the Transportation Trust Fund, with 41 percent from the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Highway Administration, and 5 percent from other sources.