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Are Transit Cuts in Salem a Sign of Things to Come for NJ?

February 5, 2010

Downtown Salem, NJ

An article in the Sunbeam (Salem) describes how a transit program operated by Salem County was shut down recently after their grant funding ran out. The program transported workers from Salem County to jobs in local industrial parks, and was canceled when the County left their half of $400,000  matching grant from NJ Transit out of their most recent budget. Riders were given four days notice.

This cut in service comes  as NJ Transit grapples with how to address a much larger deficit of some $200 million dollars in its upcoming budget. Assembly Minority Leader Alexander DeCroce, R-Morris suggests closing the gap by finding “operational efficiencies”, which would likely involve broader service cuts, while Governor Christie has given no indication that he is eager to raise any substantial new revenue for transportation.

As budget discussions continue in Trenton, New Jersey Future is working with Transportation for America to urge Congress to include  more funding for transit operations in the “Jobs Bill” under discussion. When it comes to creating jobs, transit operating funds are among the most effective because of their immediacy relative to constructing a new infrastructure project, “shovel ready” or otherwise

Ironically, as leaders in both Trenton and Washington focus their attention on economic development and job creation, transit cuts like the one in Salem have the potential to lead to further job loses by making it harder for workers, especially low-income employees, to get to work.

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