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Report Shows Dip In Driving In NJ; Advocates Want More Mass Transit Investments

45 Other States Show Decrease In Number Of Miles Driven
NJ TRANSIT train (file/credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

NJ TRANSIT train (file/credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - Mass transit advocates in New Jersey are calling for greater investments into public transportation.

A report issued Thursday by the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group Law & Policy Center, titled “Moving Off the Road: A State-by-State Analysis of the National Decline in Driving,” found that people are moving from behind the steering wheel.

“New Jerseyans drive 5.5 percent fewer miles per day than they did in 2007,” Bersi Mesgna with NJPIRG told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney. “The decline in driving is a national trend.”

The report found New Jersey is one of 46 states that have a decrease in the number of miles driven since 2005.

The state-by-state study also found that more people are opting for mass transit and bicycles.

LINK: Read The Full Report (pdf)

“Our government’s transportation leaders need to realize that the decline in driving is about more than a temporary recession,” said Mesgna.

Ryan Lynch with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign has called for more spending on bike lanes and extra rail and bus options. He noted that 2.5 percent of New Jersey’s budget goes toward biking and pedestrians.

“That has to change, that has to go up dramatically in order to create the environments that people are demanding,” said Lynch.

He has called on lawmakers to generate revenue for these projects by increasing the gas tax.

Lynch said the gas tax has not been increased in more than two decades.

“Yet we’ve raised fares on bus riders and transit riders,” he said.

The driving decline in New Jersey is far slower than in neighboring states, the report found. In New York, annual per-person vehicle miles driven since 2005 have declined by 8.1 percent, in Pennsylvania by 10.4 percent and in Delaware by 11.7 percent.

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