For the first time in 2 years, the NJ Transit board met in person on April 13, 2022. Much was the same: security check-in, label, escort to the 9th floor—yet there were changes: speaker check-in was done online before the meeting, for both phone and in-person speakers; in person, there was not the usual 2 sign-in sheets, speakers and attendees, but only an attendance sign-in sheet. No stacks of paper; similar reliance on the online agenda. The conduct of the meeting was familiar, and it was nice to see more than the portraits of board members, but to actually see them in person. Joyce Zuczek was missing, but Meghan Umukoro did an excellent job of conducting the meeting. During the public comment period, the main difference came after the in-person speakers: there were a number of people calling in via telephone—a welcome addition.
Among my comments at the board meeting was an issue a bit outside our traditional purview, but one that speaks to the operations of the agency: without notice, 5 lines that had long gone into Philadelphia were truncated at Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden. A free transfer would be offered, but the need to make a connection would still cause a hardship for riders, especially those with few alternatives. Just recently, we heard from our colleague Del Bradford in Philadelphia that those routes would return to Philadelphia—not to the Greyhound bus station, as formerly (avoiding what NJT considered a dangerously sharp turn), but to 10th and Market streets, a block away. Routes 313 and 315 will now continue to the 30th Street Station and loop around.
I don’t know what precipitated the change: surely not my comments, probably not those of the others at the board meeting, but possibly pressure from the board itself, but most important to us is that the agency did finally accommodate riders’ needs. Next time, more notice, please—and ask riders first to avoid such disruptions! This is a perfect example of why public comment periods before route changes are so important—3 months’ disruptions (until the new routes being in late June) could have been avoided.