GLEN ROCK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New data shows NJ TRANSIT delays continue despite lower ridership caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
So what should people expect once more start using public transportation again?
As companies push to have their employees return to work in the fall, the outlook for commuters isn’t great.
When asked by CBS2’s Meg Baker what employers should expect, Stephen Sigmund, chief of public outreach for the Gateway Program, said, “I think in short term I think you’re going to see continuing delays.”
Sigmund said the Hudson River tunnel already had 22 days of delays in 2021. That’s one every four days.
Congressman Josh Gottheimer quoted data he said he got from the Federal Transportation Administration that shows NJ TRANSIT has one of the worst on-time records in the nation and is one of the most expensive.
Nancy Snyder with NJ TRANSIT disputed that, saying rail improved on-time performance from 90% in fiscal year 2019 to 92.3% in fiscal year 2020.
“For Jersey to compete and attract families and businesses and for America to win in the global marketplace, we must turn this around,” Gottheimer said.
Gottheimer said there is hope for the future due to a new partnership with President Joe Biden’s administration and bipartisan legislation.
“Which includes critical investment in New Jersey’s transit system, from rails and train cars to Gateway Tunnel,” Gottheimer said.
If things don’t improve, transit experts say it will further negatively effect employment equity and the environment. Felicia Park Rogers is with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
“The car congestion is already at 95% of pre-COVID levels and ridership on transit is low, indicating people are choosing their cars over transit,” Rogers said.
She said she fears what experts call a “death spiral” — the more people that don’t ride, the less fare revenue. Less money means less service.
Gottheimer said he is hoping for a vote on the federal transportation bill before the August recess.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill includes money not only for the Gateway Tunnel Project and rails, but also for roads, bridges, broadband, and fixing lead pipes.
CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.