NJ Transit adopts '09 budget

July 9, 2008 6:33:39 PM PDT
The New Jersey Transit board of directors adopted a fiscal year 2009 budget Wednesday that officials say supports historic ridership levels by increasing seat capacity, modernizing bus and rail fleets and maintaining the system in a state of good repair. "Ensuring that the residents of New Jersey have a safe, efficient and reliable public transit system has been a priority of my administration," Governor Jon Corzine said. "And at no time has it been more critical to the economic vitality and the future of our state than today as record numbers of citizens are making the smart choice and leaving their cars in favor of public buses, trains and light rail service."

Officials say the $1.7 billion operating budget and $1.29 billion capital plan advance major capacity-enhancing projects, fund improvements at bus and rail facilities and support the purchase of transit vehicles to replace aging equipment.

"This budget relies on more state support and continued cuts in back-office expenses to keep our core rail and bus system running efficiently and meet record demand for service," NJ Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles said.

NJ Transit's fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30.

Operating Budget

The operating budget provides funding for maintaining current levels of transit service to accommodate record-high ridership while accounting for extraordinary increases in the cost of fuel, power, parts and materials. Since FY05, the cost to maintain stations has risen 48 percent, the cost of vehicle parts has increased 63 percent and fuel costs have more than doubled.

Corzine's FY09 state budget provides a $60 million increase in operating support for NJ Transit, which will be used to partially offset these cost increases.

To make up the balance, NJ Transit is cutting administrative expenses by 20 percent, saving nearly $4 million over two years by renegotiating lower cost prescription drugs. In addition, NJ Transit will save more than $3 million in expenses through telephone call center efficiencies and further cuts in marketing and advertising.

In FY09, eight cents of each operating dollar will go toward administrative costs, down from nine cents in FY08 and 12 cents in FY02.

Capital Budget

The capital budget supports an ongoing effort to modernize the state's fleet of revenue vehicles, including the purchase of 1,365 new buses, 326 Multilevel rail cars, 110 electric multiple-unit rail cars and 53 electric and dual-powered locomotives.

Capital projects to keep the system in a state-of-good-repair account for nearly 70 percent of the capital program, including projects to replace aging rail and bus rolling stock, infrastructure renewal, preventative maintenance of equipment, and station improvements (including Trenton Transit Center, South Amboy, Ridgewood and Newark Penn stations).

The capital budget also includes investment in capacity and expansion of the system, including the Access to the Region's Core tunnel project to double rail capacity under the Hudson River and the extension of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to 8th Street in Bayonne. Funding also will be provided for the acquisition of additional rail cars to meet growing demand.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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