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Wisniewski, Muoio, Benson, Johnson & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Give Riders Say in NJ Transit Decisions Advanced by Assembly Panel

Legislation Would Add Two Public Members to Transit System’s Board of Directors

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats John Wisniewski, Elizabeth Muoio, Daniel R. Benson, Gordon M. Johnson and Valerie Vainieri Huttle sponsored to give the public more influence regarding decisions at New Jersey Transit was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-1919) would add two public members to the NJ Transit board of directors, increasing board membership to 10 members from eight. The legislation follows a 9 percent NJ Transit fare increase last year and a 22 percent increase in 2010.
“As the third largest mass transit system in the nation, NJ Transit is a vital part of our state’s transportation network. Without the voices of its passengers on the board of directors, New Jersey is missing out on opportunities to get direct feedback and innovative ideas at the decision-making table,” said Wisniewski (D-Middlesex). “Mere white papers about the effect of decreased subsidies, increased fares and cuts to service are no substitute for the value that two public members can bring to this board.”
“The actions NJ Transit has taken in recent years have made it harder for families to make ends meet in our state,” said Muoio (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Having people in the room who know first-hand how a fare increase cuts into money set aside for groceries or how a late train can cost someone a job opportunity can only improve public transportation for all passengers.”
The two new public members are to be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate. One of the new members is to be a regular NJ Transit bus passenger and the other is to be a regular rail passenger.
“No one knows the impact of fare increases and service delays better than those who regularly travel using public transportation,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Adding public members to the NJ Transit board will better equip the state to work toward making mass transit a more affordable, more reliable and safer option for all passengers.”
“Adding everyday riders to the NJ Transit board will make sure the voice of people directly affected by fare and service changes are represented among the corporation’s decision makers,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “In the nation’s most densely populated state, making public transportation more attractive – and thus getting people off the roads – can have a positive impact on our infrastructure, our environment and our economy. Regular passengers can help New Jersey determine the best approach to doing that.”
“Our state needs to think of NJ Transit passengers’ unique perspectives as a resource that, if employed wisely, can produce more efficient service and less congestion on our roads,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “We should give riders a real voice and input into the decisions that impact their lives, both for the potential benefit to individual passengers and the overall potential benefit to the state.”
The bill was advanced by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, of which Wisniewski is chair.