Transit problems have become a topic for most of the candidates hoping to succeed NJ Gov. Christie, whose term expires next January; Christie is term-limited and cannot run again. Nick Corasanti reported the story in the New York Times (May 9). The leading Democratic candidate, Philip D. Murphy, acknowledged that New Jersey has a transportation crisis, and that a new tax "potentially" might be the only solution, although he stressed that there are many options on the table. Voters seem to be in tune with the idea that something must be done; a recent Quinnipiac University poll said that 84% of likely voters favored a new trans-Hudson rail tunnel; 65% disapproved of Gov. Christie's handling of transportation issue. Christie famously stopped an earlier Hudson tunnel project, citing costs and features; since then, there has been little progress on new tunnels, and Christie has also cut NJ Transit's state subsidy by 90%.

Most of the Democratic and Republican candidates agree that Amtrak's Gateway project, which includes new tunnels, are "vital;" and that overhauls of both New York's Penn Station and Port Authority Bus Terminal are necessary.  Candidates also seem to agree that an audit of NJ Transit to identify waste and mismanagement would be a good idea, and that political appointments to transit agencies should cease. Gov. Christie's Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who is running for the Republican nomination, called the political appointment process "the worst public policy to come out of Trenton in a generation."

On specifics, the candidates have a variety of proposals. Mr. Murphy called for indefinite cross-honoring of NJT tickets on PATH and ferries, a manager to oversee relations with other transit agencies, and better apps to inform riders of delays.  He also said a dedicated funding source for NJT is needed, but that there were also other ways to guarantee NJT funding.

The increase in the gasoline tax last year allowed many transportation projects to resume, but Ms. Guadagno opposed it, saying that it's important to examine spending in Trenton, and bring all agencies responsible for infrastructure under common management.  Her Republican rival, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, also wants agency reorganization, a new tax agreement with New York State, and called for using the moneys collected from drivers' licenses and other fees to improve infrastructure. The fees currently go into the state's general fund.  Democratic candidate Jim Johnson, for his part, unveiled a transit and infrastructure plan in late April, triggered by a number of transit snafus. He wants to cut fraud and waste, data-sharing among transportation agencies, tax reform, "predictive" instead of deferred maintenance, and completion of a proposed rail line between Glassboro and Camden.

Democratic Assemblyman John Wisniewski, with long experience in transportation issues, called for changes in the state's Transportation Trust Fund, additional rail capacity including the so-called Monmouth-Ocean-Middlesex proposed line, train station renovation, and refocusing the Port Authority on interstate transportation (instead of airports).

All of the candidates seem interested in transit issues, but their personal experience with public transit varies. Mr. Murphy declined to say when he has used transit; Ms. Guadagno commuted by NJT from Little Silver to Newark in her former job as a federal prosecutor; Mr. Johnson uses the PATH to travel to New York.  Mr. Wisniewski reported that he used to take the train from South Amboy to Newark and says rail is his favorite means of travel to New York, although he says these days he's wary of rail's reliability: for a recent meeting, he said, "I couldn't afford to be late. I had to drive in."