NJT Announces $43M to Fund Electrification of Buses, Solar Bus Shelters, Mini-buses, Microtransit Shuttles, and Bike Sheds.
Last week NJ Transit and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) announced $43.6 million in federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funding to seven NJ Transit projects.
This funding will be made available to NJT as part of the NJTPAs fiscal year 2022-2025 Transportation Improvement Program.
The seven projects include:
- Hilton Bus Garage Electrification Project ($24.5M) – The Hilton Bus Garage electrification project is the next step in NJ TRANSIT’s progress to the transition to a fully zero-emission bus fleet in accordance with state law. Efforts to date at Newton Bus Garage in Camden County focused on the implementation of a limited number of battery electric buses via plug-in chargers. The Hilton Bus Garage electrification project in Essex County will implement an overhead pantograph charging system that is both hands-free for increased safety and scalable for mass-charging use. This project will provide a standardized overhead gantry system that will support the chargers and the charging cabinet equipment. Once designed and tested, the intention is to use the refined system to provide simple and efficient charging infrastructure that can be quickly implemented in the majority of NJ TRANSIT’s bus garages. The CRRSAA funding proposed for this project will pay for the pantograph charging system and supporting charging equipment.
- Microtransit Shuttle Pilot Routes ($7M) – NJ TRANSIT seeks to create two or more community shuttle services to provide first/last mile access to transit hubs, thereby extending the reach of transit to areas where traditional fixed route service may be infeasible or ineffective. The CRRSSA funds will support a multi-year shuttle pilot program in the NJTPA region that would offer on-demand service using smaller, accessible minibusses or vans, and hailed by an app or other suitable means. Pilot locations may include connecting residential areas of Monmouth County with the main Rt. 9 corridor, connecting two highly utilized bus corridors between Englewood and Teaneck in Bergen County, or first/last mile solutions in the Port Newark/Newark Airport area.
- Solar Bus Shelters – Retrofit and New Design Constructability & Pilot Implementation ($6M) – NJ TRANSIT is undertaking the design of a new, state of the art solar powered, low-maintenance bus shelter. The primary intentions are to improve safety by providing solar-powered lighting and to develop a practical but aesthetically pleasing shelter design. NJ TRANSIT is proposing a multi-pronged approach, including retrofit of up to 10% of existing bus shelters in the NJTPA region with solar lighting where feasible, as well as design of a new shelter which would be implemented through a pilot project, and then incorporated into the existing bus shelter program.
- Bike Sheds ($2M) – NJ TRANSIT is preparing an RFP to obtain a service provider to build, operate, and maintain bike “sheds” that can store multiple bicycles and scooters at rail and bus hubs. The intended sheds funded by the CRRSSA grant would be durable, secure, and accessible to users 24/7 through an app or other convenient method. These would encourage non-motorized first/last mile access to and from transit hubs in the NJTPA region.
- Electric Mini-Buses ($1.5M) – NJ TRANSIT operates minibusses in its Access Link complementary paratransit system and also purchases and distributes minibusses for use by county, municipal, and non-profit sub-recipients of Federal Transit Administration Section 5310 and 5311 funds. There is growing interest in deploying battery-electric powered minibusses for these services, however, there is currently a low level of experience and readiness to purchase and use these vehicles in daily service. The CRRSSA funds would allow NJ TRANSIT to purchase up to five (5) battery electric minibusses and chargers to deploy in the NJTPA region as part of the Access Link fleet, potentially through a cooperative purchase with another state also pursuing battery electric minibusses. These would become a “living laboratory” to demonstrate how to operate, maintain, and schedule paratransit service for NJ TRANSIT and its sub-recipient partners.
- Local Electric Vehicle Minibus Transition Study and Technical Support ($1M) – Interest in transitioning to battery-electric minibusses by NJ TRANSIT’s Access Link paratransit system, and local and non-profit recipients is growing, and electrification of buses is a key regional greenhouse gas reduction strategy. Small transportation providers face challenges transitioning to an electric vehicle (EV) fleet, including cost, procurement, charging facilities, maintenance and safety, driver training, and adjustment of routing and scheduling to meet the operational characteristics of EVs. The CRRSSA grant will fund a study led by NJ TRANSIT, with consultant support as needed, to characterize the knowledge gaps in the transition to EV minibusses and provide technical assistance to sub-recipients in the NJTPA region and Access Link looking to deploy electric minibusses. This study will also develop guidance for local and non-profit providers of transit service and support the state and local EV Infrastructure Deployment Plans.
- NewBus Hudson ($1M) – This bus network redesign project aims to better understand ridership trends and other barriers to mass transit usage in Hudson County. Study tactics include a market assessment of specific localities and potential customers to determine the effectiveness and competitiveness of transit options; service evaluation, an analysis of strengths, deficiencies, gaps, and opportunities of the existing local bus network; and stakeholder and public involvement intended to develop a comprehensive Public Involvement Plan that identifies a range of outreach approaches targeting key internal and external stakeholders. Using the data collected, NJ TRANSIT will create service and capital plans, which are expected to include strategies and solutions for addressing a regional decline in bus ridership.
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