The New Jersey Senate has passed legislation sponsored by Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to help NJ Transit customers. The pro-commuter efforts, SR-144 and S-3574, both aim to improve the safety and reliability of New Jersey’s public rail lines.
NJ Senate passes Sen. Tom Kean’s legislation to help NJ Transit commuters by improving the safety and reliability of public rail lines. (SenateNJ.com)
The first piece of legislation, SR-144, respectfully urges Congress to permanently extend the federal tax credit for railroad track maintenance.
“NJ Transit commuters have suffered through years of unnecessary delays that have negatively-impacted their quality of life, their jobs, and in some cases – even their safety,” Senator Kean (R-21) said. “Urging Congress to permanently extend a tax credit for track maintenance is a critical component of our multifaceted plan to shore up the reliability of our rail infrastructure for years to come. We need to work with the Federal Government on this issue. I hope they heed our call for action. The safety and security of millions of commuters depends on our cooperative efforts.”
Under federal tax law, certain eligible taxpayers, including Class II and Class III railroads, which include short line railroads, are eligible for a tax credit for qualified railroad track maintenance expenditures paid or incurred during certain taxable years.
This tax credit encourages Class II and Class III railroads to invest their revenues into railroad infrastructure, which, in turn, increases efficiency, supports jobs, and improves safety.
Bills have been introduced in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, S. 203 and H.R. 510 respectively, to permanently extend the tax credit for railroad track maintenance, which would apply to expenditures paid or incurred during tax years beginning after 2017.
Senator Kean’s SR-144 urges Congress to take action on these bills immediately, in order to ensure the longterm safety and reliability of railways in New Jersey, New York, and throughout the country.
The second bill sponsored by Senator Kean to pass the Senate today, S-3574, would require NJ Transit to conduct a feasibility study on bringing one-seat rides to the Raritan Valley Line – the only NJ Transit line that currently does not have one-seat service into Manhattan any day of the week.
The Raritan Valley line comprises about 10 percent of NJ Transit’s daily ridership system-wide. NJ Transit suspended all one-seat service on the RVL in 2018 to free up engineers to install Positive Train Control on NJ Transit trains statewide.
Despite the high volume of customers that ride this line to New York City, there is still no established timeline for restoring one-seat rides on the Raritan Valley Line.
Senator Kean’s bipartisan legislation, S-3574, would require NJ Transit to conduct a feasibility study on offering Raritan Valley Line customers full-time direct rail service to Manhattan’s New York Penn Station.
“Raritan Valley Line customers should, at the very least, be able to anticipate when they can expect one-seat rides to resume on the line they rely on. Forcing them to wait years with little to no information is unconscionable,” Kean added. “Full time direct service to Manhattan would shorten commutes and raise property values. This study will help us find the answers we need to give NJ Transit commuters the quality of service they deserve.”
As a long-time advocate for Raritan Valley Line commuters, Senator Kean has worked with the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition and the Raritan Valley Line Mayor’s Alliance to generate various Legislative solutions to improve rail service for commuters statewide. Kean has also been a vocal advocate for the Gateway Tunnel, the Port Authority Bus Terminal expansion, and a wide variety of initiatives to strengthen transportation infrastructure and help commuters across the region.
Just last week, Senator Kean joined a bipartisan, bi-state coalition of legislators to announce new legislation to support the Gateway project. To learn more, click here.
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