NJ Transit head outlines FY14 plans

TRENTON – N.J. Transit head James Weinstein assured lawmakers today there will be no fare increase in fiscal year 2014.

“We are keeping fares stable,” he told the Senate Budget Committee. 

The transportation agency is expecting to replace 1,400 diesel buses with so-called clean diesel ones by next spring, he said during the first of the various state departmental budget hearings. 

Also, N.J. Transit is expecting a 100 percent reimbursement from the Federal Transportation Authority for costs related to service restoration, such as bus and ferry service, for the 15 days following Superstorm Sandy last year.

Weinstein added that some 97 percent of the weekday trains and 100 percent of weekend trains services are running. The executive director added that two-thirds of locomotives that suffered water damage are operating and 40 percent of rail cars are running. 

The company will also be undergoing storm resiliency projects, which include elevating low-lying electrical substations that can’t be moved. 

NJ Transit will take on some new projects, lawmakers were told. They include a new rail station in Wood-Ridge, a $40 million renovation of the Elizabeth train station as part of a multiyear facelift project on the Northeast Corridor, $35 million for bridge rehab projects and $18 million on track and tie replacement projects. 

In addressing the issue of the rail yards flooded by Sandy, Weinstein said there was little reason at the time to believe that the yards where the rail cars were stored would see severe flooding.

He explained that it was the primary maintenance yard for railcar storage. “That was the primary yard,” he said. “We put the equipment at the Meadows facility.”

Weinstein said the yard had never flooded before. “There was no reason to believe it would have flooded.”

Nonetheless, Weinstein said the company has learned from the experience and the company is looking at other locations. It also has had studies done.

Some 272 passenger cars were damaged,  largely due to salt coming into contact with the bearings.