Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop held a virtual transportation forum, going over a 10-point proposal he introduced last week as part of his gubernatorial run.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor this far, unveiled his statewide transportation plan last week. He said he would remove the PATH from the Port Authority and have it run by NJ Transit instead, as well as planning congestion pricing for New York drivers.
Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle, who endorsed Fulop in May, explained on the Zoom call that the largest train line in New Jersey goes through Westfield, but they must change in Newark to get to Manhattan.
She said she commuted into the city for 20 year and it was very stressful.
“I was never the mom I wanted to be when I got home at night,” Brindle revealed.
Unreliable transfers were a significant problem, she recalled, advocating for the train line to go directly into New York City. Brindle noted Fulop’s views on transportation were similar.
Amalgamated Transportation Union Vice President Ray Greaves introduced Fulop. The ATU gave the mayor his first statewide labor endorsement in May.
Fulop noted that while the election was about two years away, there were almost 300 people that called into the virtual meeting. He encouraged them to submit feedback and proposals to the campaign.
“We think we’re on the right path forward. We don’t have all the answers,” Fulop said.
He explained when he ran for mayor for the first time in 2013, he similarly put out detailed policy plans and built an organization early and they want to replicate that now in for the 2025 primary for governor.
His transportation plan is part of an eight-part series he calls #FixNJ, next month, he will unveil his housing policy, followed by public safety, education, sustainability, and government reform at later dates.
Fulop noted micro transit programs, such as increasing bicycle usage, have been successful in Jersey City.
“It is something we have leaned into. Not everybody drives. You need to build the infrastructure to have people to use it. We’re seeing it become adopted,” he noted.
“This is a statewide investment in infrastructure: it impacts so many of the other conversations.”
He noted the connection with quality of life, segregation, and housing.
Fulop explained noted buses are often not efficient or sustainable. Thus, Fulop said they should use flexible dynamic routing with technology which is more environmentally conscious.
“We are a corridor state. We are a densely populated state. Infrastructure growth hasn’t kept pace,” Fulop explained.
He continued that NJ Transit will have a $1 billion dollar deficit in 2025 and the state needs to figure out how to make up the difference. Fulop noted that more cuts would likely lead to fewer riders, leading to cuts in a vicious circle.
Thus, he advocated that the corporate business tax should be dedicated to NJ Transit and said flatly that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) should not have let it expire.
“It is a tax only paid by the largest corporations. They’ve accepted it as a part of doing business in New Jersey,” Fulop argued.
“The Port Authority has gotten more involved in the real estate business. I think that’s a mistake.”
The three-term mayor also advocated for the state to invest more in the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. He would pay for it by diverting the $10 billion earmarked for the turnpike extension that he came out against early this year.
“The light rail leads to… tremendous economic development … NJ Transit owns a lot of properties that aren’t maximized,” Fulop stated.
He said they should sell properties to fund station modernization, which he also believes would increase ridership. He then further explained his position on potential congestion pricing in New Jersey.
“Filing lawsuits is counterproductive. The lawsuits will likely end with the federal government saying it can move forward,” he said of the current legal challenge against New York’s congestion pricing.
Fulop said only 3 percent of commuters drive into New York and said that New Jersey can benefit by doing something similar.
“New Jersey should engage in it as well. Some of the people running against me said this was a double tax. It’s easy to throw stones when you don’t have any ideas of your own … I’m proposing a tax on New York residents,” he said regarding U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-11) criticizing his congestion pricing proposal last week.
He then explained why he felt the PATH needed a new home.
“ … Since 9/11, there has been a curtailing of [PATH] service,” Fulop further stated, adding that 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and COVID-19 all led to progressively worse PATH service.
“New York always makes the argument it’s a New Jersey assessment. It’s always a back and forth,” Fulop said regarding the PATH system.
He said it runs a $500 million deficit, which is not unusual in public transportation.
“All transportation systems run on a deficit … It’s not a day one shift of $500 million. I’d like to see PATH become an asset New Jersey invests in. We should treat it as such,” Fulop explained.
He was also for reforming the Motor Vehicle Commission (formerly the DMV) by expanding hours and appointing leadership focused on in-person experiences.
Fulop is also advocating for a 10 percent discount for certain online transactions.
During a brief question and answer session., Travis Fedschun said he was a frequent light rail and NJ Transit rider, so therefore he wanted to know if there could be more collaboration between the two.
“Are you thinking maybe some sort of arrangement for that to increase connection?” he asked.
Fulop said you should be able to exchange a light rail ticket for an NJ Transit ticket.
David Friedrich said he wanted him to address the “transit desert” that exists in the northwestern part of the state.
“That’s something I really think should be fixed … We’ll talk to the mayors involved… and see how we can encompass that,” Fulop replied.
He concluded by saying he was accessible to anyone who wanted to reach out.
“Info@stevefulop.com will come to me.”