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Sen. Booker Joins Advocates At Virtual Town Hall To Call To Save NJ Transit with $1.2 Billion Federal Recovery Dollars

For Immediate Release

TRENTON, NJ – Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) joined transportation advocates late this morning for a #SaveTransit virtual town hall with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New Jersey Policy Perspective, Amalgamated Transit Union, Environment New Jersey and the Regional Plan Association. Sen. Booker reaffirmed his support for the federal push for the federal recovery HEROES Act to secure $32 billion dollars in federal COVID emergency transit funding nationwide including $1.2 billion for NJT. The live feed of the town hall is available at: https://tinyurl.com/y2zkxej7

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, released the following statement:

“NJ Transit is in a moment of crisis. While New Jersey is getting the rate of COVID-19 transmission  down below the magic barometer of community spread, NJ Transit has not recovered. Riders have returned, but nowhere near the levels of pre-pandemic levels. NJ Transit is spending millions more per month on pandemic cleaning for its buses and trains. Without federal recovery dollars, NJ Transit and its riders will be in a world of hurt and truly stuck at the station.

NJ Transit had funding issues before the pandemic and suffered from a generation of neglect for capital investments. With the passage of the EV law this January, NJ Transit is required to transition to an electric bus fleet future, with 10% of its bus purchases being electric by 2024. Even in a pandemic, it is critical to make these investments to clean our air, especially in our cities, from dirty diesel. Air pollution from diesel buses has too long been its own pandemic upon our lungs, putting our most vulnerable residents at risk. We are deeply grateful to Senator Cory Booker for advocating for the full recovery dollars of $1.2 billion for NJ Transit and for fighting for additional federal funds to electrify our diesel NJ Transit bus fleet. We need to fight to electrify everything on wheels, and we thank Sen. Booker for being a champion in that fight.”

Senator Cory Booker responded to a question from Doug O’Malley on electrification of NJ Transit’s bus fleet, which is mandated by the omnibus electric vehicle legislation (S2252/A4819) signed in Jan.:

“The asthma rates alone for kids in Harrington Park (where I grew up) is very different than in the Central Ward in Newark (where I live now). Unfortunately, a Black child is about 10 times more likely to die from asthma than other New Jersey children. This is an environmental injustice. I have been working on community benefits legislation to get zero interest transit loans to transition to electric buses from diesel. It is common sense,” said Senator Booker during the virtual town hall.

“I have a real unique perspective and we need to incentivize electrification in the highway transportation bill. I want to work to dedicate a billion dollars for highway electrification in the upcoming Highway bill. I am all over this. This is in the sweet spot of what’s in my heart…The political realities can shift and hopefully we are doing some big things during a future Biden Administration to act on climate.”

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