Menendez, Booker, Sires Laud Restoration of Critical Mass Transit Funding for NJ in Final Federal Transportation Bill

Menendez, Booker, Sires Laud Restoration of Critical Mass Transit Funding for NJ in Final Federal Transportation Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, and Congressman Albio Sires (NJ-08) today applauded the reinstatement of critical funding for New Jersey Transit (NJT), a day after they drew a line in the sand and announced their refusal to support a federal transportation bill if it including a House provision to strip $50 million a year for the agency.

“Saving this critical transit funding for New Jersey was my top priority and essential to moving our state forward,” said Sen. Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate mass transit subcommittee. “This only increases the prospects of bold infrastructure projects we so desperately need, to maintain and improve our quality of life, create jobs, and grow our economy.  It gets us a step closer to getting Gateway on track, allows NJT to make basic repairs and prevent delays like the kind we saw this summer.”

“I was proud to fight for this federal transit funding because maintaining a safe and efficient transportation system is vital to not only our region but to our entire nation,” said Sen. Booker, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security. “Restoring this funding, unfairly cut in the earlier House bill, will help us invest in critical infrastructure projects like Gateway and bring some much needed relief to NJT commuters who should not be burdened with delays due to overdue maintenance.”

“New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country and its residents rely heavily on transit for everyday transportation.  Maintaining High Density funding for NJ Transit is vital to ensuring the agency’s ability to build new transit infrastructure and maintain state of good repair to keep trains moving,” said Rep. Sires, who sits on the House Transportation Committee and is a member of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating the final bill.

The federal lawmakers have been urging Congress to pass a long-term transportation funding bill that adequately funds New Jersey’s and the nation’s critical transportation needs. A House-Senate conference committee is negotiating a final spending package this week ahead of Friday’s deadline. 

The House version included a provision to cut at least $1.6 billion per year in federal funding under the 5340 High Density/Growing States transit formula to some of the most congested and transit dependent Urbanized Areas (UZAs) in the country, including the New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia metro areas.  New Jersey Transit (NJT) stands to lose an estimated $50 million a year toward its capital budget if the House funding formula remains part of the final transportation appropriations bill.  House Republicans instead voted to redirect these funds to a discretionary program for bus projects, largely in rural areas of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. 

NJT stood to lose $50,289,821 to fund necessary repairs to keep its system operational, such as track replacement, maintenance, and a current $55 million renovation of Elizabeth Station.  It would limit available funding for critical projects on the Northeast Corridor, such as the Gateway trans-Hudson tunnel project, and implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC), the high-tech braking system that would have prevented the May 2015 fatal Philadelphia Amtrak derailment.  

Earlier this month, Sens. Menendez and Booker signed onto a letter with 17 of their Senate colleagues representing Northeast Corridor states requesting the Senate leaders on the conference committee stand firm and preserve the Senate language on critical funding for transit service in high density regions.