The planned expansion of NJ TRANSIT’s One-Seat Ride this November to have evening service has been postponed, according to Wednesday’s NJ TRANSIT meeting where the matter was discussed.
Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim was quoted as saying, referring to the 2016 fiscal budget and the One-Seat Ride, “[NJ TRANSIT] found that the nearly $600,000 in additional annual cost to operate this service presents a real monetary challenge, given the current very tight fiscal constraints facing NJ TRANSIT and the state, and the need to budget responsibly.”
The Raritan Valley Line (RVL) started its One-Seat Ride on March 3rd of this year during the off-peak hours between Monday through Friday. During those time between the morning and afternoon rush hours, Roselle Park residents – as well as visitors – could commute to and from New York City without having to change trains in Newark Penn Station. The next stage was to have evening hours during the week start in November. Now, that seems to be postponed with no planned start date provided.
Ms. Hakim said that NJ TRANSIT is looking for potential alternate funding sources, adding, “We hope to have a better sense of whether this can be accomplished in the near future.”
Both mayoral candidates responded to the news.
Michael Yakubov stated, “I feel that NJ TRANSIT needs to place the off-peak One Seat Ride expansion on the forefront of their discussion during their budget process. In response to the statement by NJ TRANSIT, it seems to me that it is not a priority item to them – this is very disappointing to say the least. Just as we do during the budget process in Roselle Park, we always look to evaluate what we spend on how it will have a positive impact to our residents. Same goes for NJ TRANSIT, they should reconsider this initiative and see it for what it is. I find several benefits that cannot be measured in cost. For example, the increase in homeowner property values, the decrease in air pollutants due to the use of public transportation, the draw to the town from other communities, easier access to NYC for those who do not work traditional hours. These are just a few reasons. Perhaps the most compelling reasons I would ask NJ TRANSIT to reconsider their decision would be to see the benefit to them as well. Ridership has increased tremendously, they are generating income and providing what I would call an essential service. They claim a $600,000 short fall, however I would challenge them to counter that against the ridership earnings during off-peak hours, and although it may not make up the shortfall they are claiming I am sure there are other initiatives that NJ TRANSIT may be spending funds on that are not as impactful or necessary as the one seat ride initiative.”
Carl Hokanson remarked, “Anything that sets back the One Seat Ride is a disappointment. If we can help NJ TRANSIT in any way to help move this forward, Roselle Park is ready to do its part.”
“Just to clarify, this is not a reduction of existing service, just no short-term expansion,” stated NJ TRANSIT spokesman William Smith.