Dear NJ Legislature,
Nearly 50% of the States greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. We suffer from dual problems associated with the same root cause: poor air quality and some of the worst traffic congestion and longest commutes in the country. The root of this issue can be traced through a mess of policy and cultural phenomena – investments in car travel over public transit paired with America’s unique culture of individualism and self-reliance creates systemic inequity throughout our systems. The lack of adequate public transit can often exacerbate those inequities.
Families and individuals living in our urban communities, especially low-income and environmental justice communities who face disproportionate amounts of pollution from industry and transportation, face the worst health outcomes. Children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions are especially at risk, but all of us are at increased risk for developing lung and heart disease and cancer. At the same time, our state is facing increasing risk from the impacts of climate change.
NJ Transit has been underfunded for years. Now it’s time to turn the agency around to be the public service we deserve. But funding for NJ Transit is unstable.
The benefits of investing in public transportation are more far-reaching than economic activity. Good transit can improve the quality of life for many by making grocery stores, doctors’ offices, and schools more accessible. Instead of taking two buses and a train to go food shopping, an equitable transit system would make those residential and commercial hubs easy to get to. Studies show that investing in public transportation can generate anywhere from $1.5 million to $1.8 billion dollars in economic activity. While that range is broad and most cities will see benefits somewhere in between those two numbers, having that evidence can support arguments for city and state funding for public transit.
Equitable transportation must be affordable, accessible and clean and get people where they need to go on time, all the time. An equitable transportation policy all starts with adequate funding and NJ Transit needs a dedicated funding source.
We call on the Legislature for an equitable transportation policy.
We ask you to:
- Fully fund NJ Transit for operations and capital projects.
- Electrify New Jersey’s transportation system including NJ Transit.
- Invest in personal electric vehicles, carshare and rideshare programs, and statewide infrastructure.
- Prioritize environmental justice communities in the transition to electrified transportation.