NJ Transit’s Board of Directors approved a $1.904 billion operating budget and a $1.152 billion capital program on Wednesday for Fiscal Year 2013, and to the delight of its customers, there’s no fare hike.
“Thanks to a stable mixture of state, federal and other funding sources, as well as NJ Transit’s commitment to operate more efficiently, we are able to put forth an operating budget that will continue to hold the line on fares for the third consecutive fiscal year,” said state Transportation Department Commissioner James Simpson, who serves as the transit agency’s chairman as well.
Executive Director James Weinstein said in the joint statement, “By implementing sustainable and fiscally responsible operating and capital programs, we are able to maintain and enhance New Jersey’s robust transportation system while responding to the daily transit needs of our customers.”
Nearly half of the revenue in the operating budget comes from fares ($894.2 million), with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($109.8 million), capital transfers ($363 million), and state operating assistance as well as other state and federal reimbursements ($536.9 million).
The capital program funds the upkeep of transit stations and infrastructure, replacing parts of its fleet of buses and trains and various technology and safety programs.
The operating budget supports labor and fringe benefit costs, which have decreased by nearly $19.2 million compared to FY 2012. The budget also pays for contracted services, fuel and power, which together comprise nearly 30 percent of the operating budget.
This year’s operating budget reflects a $13.2 million increase in passenger revenue, the result of modest projected growth due to the improving economic climate, NJ Transit officials said. Overall passenger revenue accounts for nearly 50 percent of the total FY 2013 operating program.
The $1.152 billion capital program, half of which will come from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF), will support the purchase of more than 1,400 new buses, more than 400 multilevel rail cars and more than 50 electric and dual-power locomotives.
The capital program also includes $63 million for investment in system-wide improvements, including $16 million for technology upgrades that improve the customer experience, such as NJ Transit’s Smart Bus initiative, officials said.
Some $56 million will fund track and bridge improvements, including the upgrade of the Rockaway River Bridge on the Boonton Line, and the rehabilitation of the Leland Avenue Bridge and the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge on the Raritan Valley Line. A total of $13 million will go toward electric traction and signal improvements.
Rail rolling stock (rail cars and locomotives) improvements will be supported by $88 million in funding, continuing NJ Transit’s efforts to replace aging, single-level railcars with higher-capacity, multi-level railcars.
Rail station improvements will be supported by $16 million from the capital program. The capital program also includes $164 million for bus and light rail state-of-good-repair needs, including $2 million for Newark Light Rail infrastructure improvements and $111 million toward the purchase of new buses.
Approximately 200 buses will be replaced this year with more environmentally friendly ones.
The Christie Administration, during the budget season, proposed borrowing more than $260 million to fund the mostly depleted TTF, which has been subject to numerous raids since its inception way back in 1984.