Labor & Environment Coalition Tackle Transit Equity with a Day of Action for a Fully Funded NJ Transit

The New Jersey Statehouse and Capitol Building In Trenton

Labor & Environment Coalition Tackle Transit Equity with a Day of Action for a Fully Funded NJ Transit

 

Early this morning, Jersey Renews advocates and Amalgamated Transit Union workers from across the state staged a Day of Action to celebrate Transit Equity Day. Groups convened at transit hubs in North, Central, and South Jersey to bring attention to the need for a dedicated funding source for NJ Transit. Transit Equity Day, held on Rosa Parks’ birthday each year in honor of her infamous refusal to give up her seat, which sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, highlights the need for equitable transportation. An equitable transportation policy includes expanded service and hours, affordable access, and clean transportation. For NJ Transit, this also means dedicated funding for operations and improvements.

“So many of the issues transit riders face stem from the same root cause: lack of funding. For the past decade, NJ Transit has been at the bottom of the funding priority list. That needs to change,” said Norah Langweiler, Jersey Renews campaign organizer. “The newly signed electric vehicle laws mandates that NJ Transit transition it’s bus fleet to electric. The NJ Transit strategic plan will offer lots more changes, I’m sure. But none of this will become reality unless the agency is funded.”

“Transit Equity Day recognizes the importance of affordable, accessible and clean public transportation that gets people where they need to go on time, all the time. For NJ Transit, it all starts with a dedicated funding source to properly invest in an  equitable transportation policy,” said Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director, Work Environment Council of NJ.

“As transit workers, who take passengers to their destinations daily, we understand the need for a transit system that services all segments of the population. We hear directly from passengers, who are affected by lack of bus service in their communities. A safe reliable Public Transit System should be a civil right. Dedicated funding to NJ Transit would not only increase service to the communities that rely on public transportation but would also reduce amount of vehicles and emission polluting the environment,” said Orlando Riley, Chairman, ATU NJ State Council.

“Transit Equity Day is a clarion reminder that we need to do more work so every New Jerseyan has equal ability to get around their communities and the state. Public transit is the most affordable, environmentally conscious decision to make to travel — and we need to get more people on the rails and the bus. Unfortunately, too many people are still stuck at the station or bus stop, and there’s more work to do to fix NJ Transit. We need NJ Transit to run every time, on time and we need dedicated funding to truly repair NJ Transit,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “We also need more funding to modernize NJ Transit’s buses and bus depots so we can move aggressively to electrify NJ Transit’s bus fleet over the next decade. The future is now to create equitable transit.”

“Reliable, smart, and sustainable investments, like electrifying NJ Transit’s bus fleet and improving train reliability, will pay dividends in public health, economic, climate, and social justice benefits for decades to come,” said Eric Benson, Clean Water Action, Campaign Director. “Reducing diesel pollution from bus traffic and getting individual cars off roads are critical in addressing public health hazards that have for too long disproportionately harmed transit riders and workers, and those that live near bus corridors.”

“Through electrification, New Jersey can reduce the negative environmental impact of its fleet, decrease risk of health issues for low-income and environmental justice communities, and expand transportation access to its riders,” said Kevin Garcia, Bus Campaign Manager for Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “However, to meet this goal, the time is now for Governor Murphy and the legislature to work together to identify adequate, long term, sustainable and dedicated funding for the agency, especially for its operating budget which has relied on hefty capital to operating transfers, funding raids and diversions. These are debilitating funding practices that tie the hands of the agency and thwart its ability to meet the transit needs of the state.”

“Reliable, smart, and sustainable investments, like electrifying NJ Transit’s bus fleet and improving train reliability, will pay dividends in public health, economic, climate, and social justice benefits for decades to come,” said Eric Benson, Clean Water Action, Campaign Director. “Reducing diesel pollution from bus traffic and getting individual cars off roads are critical in addressing public health hazards that have for too long disproportionately harmed transit riders and workers, and those that live near bus corridors.”

“Today on Transit Equity Day we celebrate Rosa Parks’ birthday. More importantly, we celebrate her activism in standing up for the rights of all people to be able to ride public transit. This year, we need to fight to make sure that mass transit is available and accessible for everyone. We need to expand opportunities for mass transit, make sure that we can get people to their destinations on time, and keep costs reasonable. We also need to expand green transportation, whether it is electric buses or trains, and make sure that our transportation fleets are powered by renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Today is a day that we celebrate mass transit as a civil right,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

The transportation sector is responsible for nearly fifty percent of greenhouse gas emissions in New Jersey. Reducing those emissions is key to meeting New Jersey’s Global Warming Response Act goals and doing our part to mitigate the catastrophic impacts of climate change.

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