The New Jersey Senate passed Monday legislation sponsored by Senators Joe Pennacchio and Mike Doherty to create a Passenger Rail Study Commission in response to a recent Office of Legislative Services report that there are no efforts to regionalize rail lines. This volunteer commission will determine how to best utilize existing rail infrastructure.
“All rail systems should be evaluated to assure they operate in the best interest of taxpayers and commuters,” said Pennacchio, R-Morris, Passaic, Essex. “We must dedicate this commission to examine all cost-cutting solutions with our neighboring states, from consolidations to mergers, especially as two new trans-Hudson River crossing plans are being discussed by operators in New Jersey and New York.”
“As we’ve seen with recent proposals, new rail projects can easily cost billions of dollars,” added Doherty, R-Warren, Hunterdon, Somerset. “When different rail agencies fail to work together to coordinate major projects and services, it’s the riders who end up paying with large fare hikes. The Passenger Rail System Study Commission will help us to prevent costly mistakes and make sure that we’re getting the most out of the infrastructure we already have.”
There are several rail systems throughout the New Jersey northeast corridor region, including those run by bi-state authorities which have proven far too costly to maintain for tax and ratepayers. SJR-15, which was passed by the Senate last session but died by state Assembly inaction, specifies that this study commission will be comprised of six public members (maximum of three per political party) appointed by the governor, with advice and consent of the Senate. The commission is to have 18 months to report its findings and recommendations to the governor and legislature.
“Our Assembly colleagues must immediately pass this measure to ease out-of-control expenses levied on the backs of taxpayers and commuters,” Pennacchio concluded.