Chances are if you’ve read many posts on this blog, you’d know that I’m a fairly passionate supporter of public transportation. This is especially true for transportation in South Jersey, whose older, denser towns are successfully capturing the energy that the New Urbanist movement is generating among “millennials”, or really, anyone who grew up in the sprawling suburbs and now wants to live in walkable neighborhoods served by busses and trains. So I was excited this morning to see that Next City published a piece by Jake Blumgart about how to improve public transit in South Jersey. (Full disclosure: I was interviewed for this article, and a link to this blog appears therein.)
Rather than suggesting lavish and expensive new projects, his article illustrates three ways in which the more than 2 million of us who live south of Trenton could be better served by existing infrastructure. At a time of intense austerity on the part of most public officials, his ideas represent great ways to improve the systems we have without huge new capital costs. The suggestions are good, and I hope NJ Transit, PATCO, and SEPTA take them to heart.
In fact, that there are three agencies involved with transportation of our area is at the core of why transit could be better in the first place. Basically, these three agencies all work in their own silos, rarely coordinating with each other, despite the fact that someone’s daily commute might involve a rider on the Riverline from Burlington County, a transfer to PATCO in Camden County, and possibly rides on SEPTA in Philadelphia. Though there exists a Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, they don’t seem to have historically concerned themselves with making sure transportation across state lines is as easy as possible in our region. And given that NJ Transit is much more concerned with North Jersey as a region than South Jersey, there seems to be a real vacuum for thought leadership on how to coordinate our disparate systems.
For South Jersey to be successful in a 21st century where people are moving back to older, denser, and frankly more interesting places, it needs to work on this. Some pieces work well, bus some pieces are barely there. And given that people are more open now to public transportation than they’ve been in decades, we really need a regional effort to better organize and coordinate our public transportation options. If we’re going to be a competitive region that people want to live in, it just has to happen.
You can read the full article at http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/south-jersey-rail-bus-new-jersey-transit-commute-improvements.