Report from the Chair, Nov./Dec. 2021

At the October NJ Transit board meeting, I commented on the difficulty of finding information on agenda items in order to make meaningful comments. In previous administrations, the final written agenda included a lot more detail on action items.

As I looked over the packed agenda, there were items on which I had questions. I called our former technical director, current member Joe Clift, to get some answers. He also had questions, so together we hit the website. We looked for details on such items as the 8-electric-bus purchase for the Camden pilot project, and realized that we had seen some of these before—NJ Transit’s Capital Plan would have details. We found the documents: many pages, with no index or page numbers, but background material on action items to help us evaluate the projects.

Some of that material was encouraging: yes, the garage had been retrofitted with chargers; the pilot program was progressing logically. Other pages brought up new questions: What is the true extent of the Walter Rand renovation? Different diagrams showed different areas, none including the current location of the light-rail station, though intermodal accommodation of 3 transit modes was mentioned. We never did find an expected total cost for that project.

It took hours to find this material, yet clearly a lot of work went into those original documents. It would be easy to include links to those documents, or even copies of the relevant pages, in the final board agenda. Thus, I asked the board to include links to relevant, previously published project pages in future agendas. I was pleased that Board Member Adams expressed his support of the idea—time will tell if it is implemented. We have appreciated Mr. Adams’ tenure on the board, raising questions asking for details, even voting No on occasion. In fact, we have heard more from new board members in the past few years than we had for quite some time. We look forward to the remaining vacancies being filled with individuals dedicated to good governance.

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