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December 21, 2009

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2009: THE YEAR IN PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

NJ TRANSITís Year in Review
BY FLORA M. CASTILLO, Board Member, New Jersey Transit Corporation, Newark, NJ

Castillo is a member of the Passenger Transport Advisory Board.

This was a productive, eventful year for New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ TRANSIT). Throughout 2009, the agency advanced several expansion projects, service enhancements, and customer service initiatives under the leadership of its board of directors.

Largest Transit Project in U.S.
The biggest news of the year took place this summer, when NJ TRANSIT broke ground on the Mass Transit Tunnel project—the largest construction project in the agency’s history, and the largest transit project in the U.S.

The $8.7 billion project will double peak train capacity into New York City with two new tracks under the Hudson River and will create a spacious and modern expanded Penn Station terminal. It will ultimately provide a one-seat ride for thousands of additional customers each day and will ensure the mobility necessary for our regional economy to stay competitive for the next 100 years.

NJ TRANSIT advanced another significant project this fall with the start of construction on the $40 million Pennsauken Transit Center. This facility, which has received funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will offer convenience and new travel options to South Jersey rail customers by directly linking the River Line with the Atlantic City Rail Line, epitomizing NJ TRANSIT’s focus on expanding the reach of the transportation network through intermodal transit hubs.

This year’s station improvement projects included work to make Ridgewood Station on the Main Line, Plauderville Station on the Bergen County Line, and Somerville Station on the Raritan Valley Line fully accessible to customers with disabilities and more convenient to all customers.

NJ TRANSIT also maintained its commitment to keeping its customer facilities and infrastructure in a state of good repair with renovation projects at stations including Chatham and Morristown on the Morris & Essex Lines and Rutherford on the Bergen County Line.

Other construction projects advanced this year included renovations to modernize the Broadway Bus Terminal in Paterson and the third and final phase of the Hoboken Ferry Terminal restoration, which will ultimately restore permanent ferry service to the historic building. In addition, NJ TRANSIT opened the new 31st Street entrance to the NJ TRANSIT Concourse at New York Penn Station this past summer, giving customers direct access between the concourse and street level.

Customer Service Improvements
On the customer service front, the agency launched a completely redesigned web site in the fall, featuring a new, streamlined look and improved functionality to help customers access essential travel information and trip-planning tools. The new site also includes an expansion of the popular “DepartureVision” feature, introduced by NJ TRANSIT this summer, which enables customers to view train departure screens on their computer or mobile device.

NJ TRANSIT launched rail service to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in July, providing a new, convenient travel option to football games and other events via Hoboken Terminal or Frank R. Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction. With connections to 11 of NJ TRANSIT’s 12 rail lines, this service gives fans statewide a way to avoid the hassles of traffic and parking when attending large events.

October marked the launch of the second phase of NJ TRANSIT’s “Go Bus” service—an enhanced bus service that serves as a model for heavily traveled corridors and paves the way for bus rapid transit in the state. Go Bus 28 links residential areas in Bloomfield and Newark with major employment centers in downtown Newark and at Newark Liberty International Airport. Designed by and for customers, the enhanced Go Bus service features a unique identity, easily identifiable bus stops, and upgraded onboard amenities.

Also in October, NJ TRANSIT began weekend rail service on a portion of the Montclair-Boonton Line from Bay Street Station in Montclair to Newark Broad Street and Hoboken Terminal, with connections to Midtown Direct service to New York or to points west on the Morris & Essex Lines.

Fleet Upgrades
1NJ TRANSIT made upgrades to its fleet over the course of the year,  including the continued delivery of the last of 329 multi-level vehicles that add thousands of seats to the busiest rail lines. The agency also continued to take delivery of 1,145 low-emission diesel buses that will make the entire bus fleet accessible to customers with disabilities.

During 2009, NJ TRANSIT served nearly a million customers on a typical weekday on its 12 rail lines, three light rail lines, and 240 bus routes.

As the year winds down, NJ TRANSIT and its Board of Directors look forward to continuing to provide residents in the nation’s most densely populated state the mobility needed to access jobs, school, medical appointments, and leisure activities day in and day out. Over the years, many men and women have served on the corporation’s board, building a proud tradition that weaves together complementary traits of careful study and bold action, both of which are essential qualities of effective management.

The current members have upheld this tradition, tackling their jobs with passion and dedication, and were proud to mark the 30th anniversary of the first NJ TRANSIT Board meeting on Dec. 11, 2009.

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