Speeding up infrastructure projects; Facebook leads on privacy protection; PATH Improvement Plan

NorthStar Strategies TrueNorth Insights

Expediting the delivery of infrastructure projects is an oft-discussed policy issue across our region. We discuss one Senator’s effort to enact design-build legislation to speed up transportation projects. Facebook is leading the tech industry’s efforts to protect the data and privacy of its users – we take a deep dive on the company’s latest initiative to put privacy control into users hands. Once again the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is making news, this time with a comprehensive plan to reshape the PATH transit system. Check out these important stories in our end-of-Summer edition of TrueNorth!

Speeding up Infrastructure Projects

One of the most pressing policy issues facing New Jersey is the delivery of public infrastructure projects. Heightened interest in expediting the delivery of transportation infrastructure projects has been the topic of discussion in Trenton and around New Jersey for some time.

New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti has been working overtime on ways to speed up projects and get dirt flying. Executives at other public agencies and authorities are similarly motivated. Legislative action being contemplated in Trenton could soon provide additional support.

Senator Pat Diegnan, Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, has introduced legislation that would give “design-build” authority – a procurement process that shortens the timeframe for project delivery by combining design and construction – to the NJDOT and New Jersey Turnpike Authority. Diegnan’s bill, which has drawn strong support from the contracting and consulting engineering industries, should be a no-brainer for anyone who wants to see the delivery of transportation infrastructure projects expedited. We sincerely hope the Legislature considers this important legislation later this Fall.

Facebook Launches new Privacy Controls

Facebook users now have more control over their data, thanks to a new privacy tool recently rolled out by the social media giant.

According to Facebook, the average person with a smartphone has more than 80 apps and uses about half of them each month, making it difficult for users to track who has information about them and what it’s used for.

The tool, “Off-Facebook Activity”, lets users view the websites and apps that share data and customer information with Facebook. Users can disconnect this data from their account if they choose. The tool is the latest step in Facebook’s commitment to safeguard user privacy. It represents the company’s effort to be the industry leader in data transparency and security.

Facebook is committed to giving people more control over their data and moving the industry toward a new standard for data transparency and control.

NorthStar is pleased to represent Facebook and so proud to work with  clients that take such a leadership role in their industry. Read more about Off-Facebook Activity here.

Port Authority Charts a New PATH

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) recently rolled out a comprehensive plan to enhance service of its PATH rail system.

The 14-mile transit system is a critical piece of the region’s transit puzzle. PATH has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years, with an average weekday ridership north of 275,000 in 2019.

To account for higher ridership and to make sure it is putting the satisfaction of its customers at the fore, PANYNJ introduced the PATH Improvement Plan in late June. The three-prong plan adds capacity, reduces delays and enhances the customer experience.

The PANYNJ is investing $1 billion in a new signal system, 72 new rail cars, and station improvements. Once fully implemented at the end of 2022, these investments will result in a 40% capacity increase on PATH’s Newark to World Trade Center line and a 20% increase on other lines.

A comprehensive program is being implemented to address the biggest causes of train delays: signal issues, switch failures, equipment failures, track conditions, sick passengers and unattended bags.

Finally, the PANYNJ is working hard to enhance the travel experience for its customers. A number of measures are designed to relieve overcrowding in stations and on platforms; a new fare payment system is being implemented that will feature “tap-and-go” technology and eliminate the need for multiple fare cards; and investments in customer service will receive the same priority as capital and operations projects.

The PANYNJ under the leadership of Chairman Kevin O’Toole is accomplishing amazing things. We’ve known and worked with O’Toole for years and consider him a good friend. We could not think of a more capable person to be at the helm of this critically important organization and look forward to his continued service and leadership as Chairman.