NJ TRANSIT Audit Released

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Earlier today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy released a comprehensive audit of NJ TRANSIT. The audit was ordered by Murphy as part of his commitment – both on the campaign trail and since taking office – to repair and rebuild the nation’s third largest transit provider.

Conducted by the consulting firm North Highland, the audit completed a forensic analysis of NJ TRANSIT, focusing on four key areas: organizational structure, operating and capital funding sources, personnel recruitment, and customer experience.

The audit confirmed what riders already know: that the agency is fundamentally broken and needs reform and overhaul at nearly every level to reclaim its position of prominence after a decade of neglect.

We are encouraged by a number of key recommendations in the audit, specifically:

  • Creation of an Office of Strategic Planning to look at the long-term vision for the transit provider. Answering the question of what we want NJ TRANSIT to look like in 20 years is essential;
  • Develop an Asset Management strategy that focuses on state-of-good-repair improvements to NJ TRANSIT’s system. We hope this is modeled after the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s asset management systems, regarded by the Federal Highway Administration as among the nation’s best;
  • Overhaul NJ TRANSIT’s Procurement Department. We can’t think of a more meaningful reform measure than efficiently and effectively procuring capital projects that rehabilitate NJ TRANSIT’s aging infrastructure;
  • Improve communications and technology to enhance the rider experience. Many of the proposed reforms are focused on internal management and operations, improvements that daily commuters may not see. Communications and technology upgrades to benefit the end consumer are long overdue and will be most welcome.

While the audit did discuss the need for a long-term, stable funding source for NJ TRANSIT’s operations and capital investments, specific recommendations were not made. Leveraging additional funding sources – including but not limited to NJ TRANSIT’s fare structure – will require difficult decisions by the Murphy Administration and the Legislature.

The audit confirmed what many of us already know, that NJ TRANSIT was allowed to deteriorate over a decade and now needs to be rebuilt. Governor Murphy has a team in place to lead that rebuild, and if the Legislature and key stakeholders can work with the Administration as partners, Murphy’s promised overhaul is likely to happen. If the audit recommendations are implemented, the riders responsible for 270 million annual trips across NJ TRANSIT’s system will see tangible benefit.

The complete audit report can be found here.