RIDGEWOOD – Senator Bob Menendez was joined by local union leaders and workers at the foot of the Ridgewood train station today to unveil what he called a plan to “address New Jersey’s and the nation’s transit infrastructure needs.”
His new transportation authorization bill discusses a nine-part policy framework that encourages strong investments in transit reaching $115 billion over six years. It also calls for: stable growth and planning of nationwide transit systems; repair of existing infrastructure; meeting demand through increased investment and grants; strengthening America’s transit workforce; creating sustainable opportunities for transit development; building “regionally significant” projects; investing in new technology; and disaster response and prevention.
“Transit lets people get to work, it creates jobs and spurs economic development,” Menendez said. “In places like Ridgewood, people depend on transit to get to work. An investment in transit is an investment in jobs.”
Local unions that came out to support Menendez’s new initiative were the New Jersey AFL-CIO, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA), among others.
When ATU State Council Chairman Ray Greaves took to the podium, he asked for applause for the Senator, citing his recognition of “the important role public transportation plays in communities across New Jersey” and the country.
“The Amalgamated Transit Union proudly stands with Senator Menendez,” Greaves said. “A long-term transportation re-authorization bill will allow us to invest in and strengthen our transportation infrastructure. It’s no secret that investment in mass transit is good for our economy and creates jobs.”
For Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn, the Senator’s bill demonstrates a commitment to small towns like his. “For Ridgewood commuters, having access to safe, efficient and reliable mass transit is not just important; it is a way of life,” he said.
The Menendez plan—known as the Principles for a Public Transportation Reauthorization Bill—is backed by Senate Banking members Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
“I categorically reject the idea that we can’t afford to fix our transportation system; we can’t afford not to fix it,” he said during his remarks. “Let’s stop pretending the transportation problem is going to resolve itself if we just wait long enough.”