At its regular meeting on July 27th, the Lackawanna Coalition called for secure, stable, and sufficient funding for operations at NJ Transit, as well as for community transportation in New Jersey. In doing so, we have recognized the need for appropriate funding for transit operations, to avoid future fare increases and service cuts, as NJ Transit approved earlier this month. In addition, we recognize the importance of community transportation in connecting with scheduled transit, which provides additional mobility for the people who need it the most.
We are aware of the current initiatives concerning highway legislation in Congress and renewing the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) in New Jersey. We recognize that these are primarily highway-oriented pieces of legislation, with some benefits for the capital side of transit. We are also aware that transit operations must be funded separately, and that the lack of sufficient funding for transit operations leads to increases in fares and cuts in transit service. These lead, in turn, to increased highway use and to less mobility for people who depend on transit. We call for sufficient, stable, and secure funding for transit operations to ensure that all New Jerseyans will have as much mobility as possible, and at affordable fares.
We also recognize that community transit in New Jersey is mostly operated by counties, whose ability to fund services is constrained. Grants from the Casino Revenue Fund, which paid for many such services, have fallen to less than half of the level of 2008. We understand the potential for community transit to provide connections with our trains and other scheduled transit and take customers the “last mile” to their destinations. We also understand that many seniors, persons with disabilities and other persons who depend on public transportation need these services. Accordingly, we call for sufficient, stable, and secure funding for community transportation, as well.
We believe that we are the first rider-advocacy organization to call for sufficient funding for community transportation in New Jersey, along with sufficient funding for operations at NJ Transit.