NJ Transit sets FY2019 ops, capex spend

Written by William Vantuono, editor-in-chief, Railway Age
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NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett says his railroad will meet 12/31/20 PTC deadline

New Jersey Transit, the nation’s third-largest public transportation agency, on Aug. 8 adopted a Fiscal Year 2019 budget consisting of $2.32 billion in operating expenditures and a $1.46 billion capital program.

The budget, which NJT stressed does not include any fare increases, “supports continued investments in personnel, infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state-of-good-repair and enhance the overall customer experience.”

Approximately 54 percent of the capital budget comes from the New Jersey’s Transportation Trust Fund (TTF, funded by motor fuels taxes), with 41 percent from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and 5 percent from other sources. The capital program funds continue state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure, investments in Northeast Corridor (NEC) infrastructure shared with Amtrak, safety initiatives, Positive Train Control installation, system expansion and support for local mobility programs.

More than 40 percent of the revenue in the FY 2019 operating budget comes from passenger revenue. The remaining amount comes from a combination of state and federal resources. Total operating assistance increases by $241.6 million, an increase largely enacted by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat, following years of cuts levied by his predecessor, Republican Chris Christie.

Approximately 60 percent of NJT’s FY 2019 operating budget is dedicated to costs associated with labor and fringe benefits. Other significant expenses include contracted transportation services and fuel, power, and materials, which together comprise approximately 25 percent of the operating budget. The budget also allows for the expansion of personnel in key areas within bus, rail, light rail, police operations, and administrative support services. These positions include training instructors, trainmasters, road foremen, regional supervisors, engineers and conductors.

The FY 2019 capital program “continues to prioritize investments in infrastructure to maintain an overall state-of-good-repair, enhance reliability, safety, and resiliency as well as improve the overall customer experience on the system,” NJT said.

The capital budget includes a $23 million installment for NJT’s ongoing efforts to implement PTC, an effort the agency says is focused on “meeting federal milestones by the end of 2018.” Approximately $291 million will be invested in rail infrastructure improvements, including $17 million for bridges, $3 million for Brielle Drawbridge (North Jersey Coast Line) Replacement Design, $14 million for NJT’s share of the new Portal Bridge North (which will replace, as part of Amtrak’s Gateway Program, the existing, 100-plus-year-old Portal Bridge on the NEC), and $80 million for Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA)-related projects, which are mostly developed by Amtrak but funded by NJT.

The capex program also continues investments in railroad bridge rehabilitation, track replacement, signal upgrades and repairs to overhead catenary and electric substations as well as investments into the state-of-good-repair of the NEC, NJT’s most-utilized rail line. NJT operates the vast majority of trains on the NEC between Penn Station New York and Trenton, N.J., including yard facilities at Sunnyside Yard, Queens, and Morrisville, Pa., and 14 intermediate stations.

Additional capex infrastructure projects include approximately $30 million in rail station improvements: $9 million for Elizabeth Station on the NEC, $4 million for Perth Amboy Station on the North Jersey Coast Line, and $7 million for other station and terminal improvements, inspections and repairs.

Capex-funded rail rolling stock programs of $107 million include $5 million for locomotive overhauls to maintain reliability and $102 million for the purchase of 113 MultiLevel III and 17 ALP45DP dual-power locomotives.

Additionally, there will be $151 million invested in bus and light rail infrastructure improvements: $7 million for Access Link Bus Replacement, $7 million in Market Street Garage Rehabilitation work, $9 million for the Capital Asset Replacement Programs for the Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail (HBLR) systems, $6 million on Ferry National Transit Database (NTD) Capital Improvements, and $100 million for cruiser bus replacement.

A total of $148 million will be invested in system-wide improvements including $6 million for safety and $11 million for technology. The budget allows for $39 million in system expansion, including $34 million for the HBLR Northern Branch expansion, $2 million for the HBLR Route 440 Improvement, and $3 million for transit rail initiatives.

Also, there will be continued support for local mobility programs: $40.7 million for enhanced mobility services for senior citizens and those with disabilities in urban and rural areas.

“The operating and capital budgets represent balanced, fiscally sound spending plans that keep fares stable and allow for long-needed investments as we continue our commitment to safety,” said NJT Executive Director Kevin Corbett. “This budget will allow us to continue to serve the needs of our customers who rely on NJT for life’s everyday commitments.’’

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