By Briana Vannozzi
It’s a nearly $2 billion investment. Replacing trains, buses and adding seats to all equipment over the next couple of decades.
“The purpose of it is to keep our fleet young and in a state of good repair so we are better able to serve the customer and provide that satisfaction,” said NJ Transit Spokesperson Nancy Snyder.
NJ Transit plans to replace all single-level rail cars with the multi-level or double deckers by 2020. It’ll allow them to decrease the overall number of trains in operation, while increasing the number of seats by about 6 percent.
“The fleet plan includes the purchase of electric locomotives along with multi-level coaches as well as dual power locomotives as well,” Snyder said.
As ridership continues to increase, transit officials say these changes will help meet the demands.
For 2014, the average weekday trips by rail was nearly 300,000. Bus service was half a million and light rail a little over 66,000.
“It’s very crowded, especially in the mornings. Sometimes depends on the day. Like today was bad. It’ll be a good thing I think because more people will get seats and you don’t have people crowding in with their bikes and sometimes it gets a little hectic,” said NJ Transit commuter Jabari Tyson-Phipps.
Right now there are five different types of rail cars being used in the fleet but NJ Transit officials say they’ll knock that down to two over the next 20 years or so and they’ll both be multi-level cars. Because, they say, not only do they provide for more seating but they travel faster too.
“On the bus side, we have purchased CNG buses as well as hydro buses. In addition to that, we’ve completed the delivery, the successful delivery, of 1,200 suburban and transit buses,” said Snyder.
The current cruiser buses in service are in the process of being swapped out for those with about eight more seats per bus.
“It’s a long-term process because we are continuously replacing our fleet. As our fleet ages we replace it,” Snyder said.
Light rail is also getting added capacity through the use of vehicle extenders and Access Link riders see new mini buses every five to seven years.