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Congestion Buster Task Force

Meeting Minutes

NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room, Ewing, NJ

August 7, 2001

Welcome and Opening Remarks

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Jim Sinclair at 9:32 a.m.

New members or delegates to the Task Force introduced themselves.

Based upon recent census numbers, NJ has the highest median income in the U.S., and we also have the third longest commute. The "threshold of pain" notion comes into play; it seems that once a commute goes over 30 minutes, the level of pain goes up.

New Jersey has the third lowest gasoline tax in the nation.

High speed EZ Pass generated a lively e-mail discussion among members during the past month.

Chairman Sinclair and his assistant, Sara Bluhm visited the Greater Mercer TMA to learn how Transportation Management Associations work. TMAs are great and can offer commuters much in the way of rideshare options etc., but do not have marketing mechanisms to reach smaller businesses.

The report to NJ Alliance for Action titled Mobility and the Costs of Congestion in New Jersey as handed out at the July meeting shows that congestion relief is a complex issue. Transportation investment may be part of the solution, but other ideas need to be integrated as well.

The Chairman reviewed the recommendation report prepared by the I-80 Mobility Task Force as handed out at the July meeting. The recommendations broken down generically, to be used as a possible model for CBTF, can be summarized as follows:

Reducing headways between buses. This may help alter the perception that transit is "not easy or convenient to use."

Vanpools are an effective way to transport people not near mass transit lines.

Create priority parking at rail stations for vanpools or carpools.

Develop public education and marketing campaigns to raise awareness of commuter options.

Implement strategies to meet employer commute needs through TMAs.

Creative marketing of public transportation service and fares.

Old Business

Pippa Woods stated that the Department's "Garden State Parkway Congestion Relief Plan" to phase out Parkway tolls within the next ten years had been submitted to the governor's office as per Executive Order 128. As of meeting time, there has been no direction from the governor's office as to the plan. Future developments will be reported to the Task Force when they occur.

Commuter tax legislation (A-190/S-1051) was signed into law July 17, 2001. This NJDOT legislative initiative permits a state employee's salary reduction program for qualified transportation benefits and matches the Federal allowable tax break.

The latest Congestion Hot Spots list with Task Force members' input was distributed.

An ongoing Commuter Incentives Inventory was distributed to the CBTF members.

New Business

Thomas Thatcher, manager of NJDOT's Bureau of Administrative Practice & Public Law Implementation, made a presentation on the proposed CBTF web page on the NJDOT website. Menu items on the page will include remarks by Chairman Sinclair, CBTF press release, CBTF statutory mandate, membership roster (name and organization only), subcommittee membership (future), meeting minutes, "Hot Spots," and NJDOT Single Occupant Vehicle Reduction Report.

Transportation related Internet links will be a valuable piece of the web page. The Chairman requested that all member organizations of the CBTF be included as a link. It was suggested that member organizations link their web page to the NJDOT site if possible.

Discussion ensued about monitoring traffic on the web page, contact person(s) and the possibility of developing a "message board." It was decided that the CBTF Secretary, Debra Firman, would be the contact person.

It is anticipated that the page will be reviewed and updated twice monthly.

The web page should be up on the NJDOT site by the September meeting; a follow up on a message board feature will be provided then.

Bob Miller, manager of NJDOT's Bureau of Technical Analysis made a presentation on establishing a "peak hour vehicle trip" performance measure and the 1999 cap as per the statutory mandate.

Factors such as capacity, travel demand and user satisfaction were defined.

Ways of measurement such as vehicles per hour, number of trips, vehicle miles traveled, volume/capacity ratio, travel time and level of service were presented.

Integration of the three MPO travel demand models was necessary for statewide analysis.

Peak hour vehicle trips (not solely commuters) are expected to increase in both the AM and PM periods by nearly 140,000 within ten years. This is a growth of approximately 7 %.

Surveys indicate that home-based other and non-home based vehicle trips are increasing during the peak hour as a result of trips to daycare and other stops made on the way to work.

Vehicle miles traveled, another way to measure traffic, is expected to grow by 10% within the next ten years. One factor causing this increase is that people will drive further miles or out of their way if it avoids congestion and shortens their trip time.

Members asked if the baseline methodology could be placed on the CBTF web page in a reader friendly format.

Discussion ensued about the intent of the legislation. Should the Task Force focus strictly on vehicle trip reduction or can the CBTF recommendations include congestion relief as well?

Chairman Sinclair suggested both approaches could be included in the Task Force's final report. In addition to reducing vehicle trips and taking cars off the road, the Task Force should seek ways to reduce delay and congestion to make the group's work meaningful to the residents of New Jersey. Members were reminded that transit capacity is also constrained.

The Chairman stated the vehicle trip baseline is something the group can work with. NJDOT staff will follow up with the MPOs to give definition to other travel measures. This information could be incorporated with the NJDOT long-range plan presentation at the September meeting.

The Chairman brought to the group's attention the NJDOT Report to the Legislature on Recommended Incentives to Encourage a Reduction in Single Occupant Vehicle Trips. Each Task Force member was asked to review the report and develop their own list of five items that could be pursued as potential ways to reduce vehicle trips and congestion. Members should e-mail their response to Debra Firman, CBTF Secretary. The goal of this assignment is to develop a Task Force list of 10 - 15 action items.

Organizational Items

Anita Perez, Michael Egenton and Marty Robins were selected to serve as the agenda committee for the next meeting. Tentative items include the Statewide Plan with an emphasis on land use and transportation, NJDOT Long-Range Plan and goods movement.

Barry Lem, Bill Layton and Jennifer Jaroski will serve on the Public Outreach committee.

Joanne Jaeger, J.P. Miele, Anita Perez and Mike Reeves were asked to look at subcommittee needs and formation. They will report their recommendations to the CBTF at the September meeting.

Future meeting dates were selected:

September 13th at 9:30 a.m. at New Jersey Turnpike offices, East Brunswick

October 11th at 9:30 a.m. at New Jersey Transit, Newark

November (date and time to be determined) at Delaware River Port Authority, Camden

The meeting was adjourned at 11:30 a.m.


Task Force Members (or Delegates):

Chairman Jim Sinclair, NJBIA
Asst. Commissioner Pippa Woods
Sandra Brillhart, Greater Mercer TMA
Lew Dekker, NJ Motor Truck Assoc.
Mike Egenton, NJ Chamber of Commerce
Joanne Jaeger, LFR Levine
Jennifer Jaroski, TSTC
Jerry Keenan, NJAFA
Wm. Layton, Concrete & Aggregate Assoc.
Stephanie Kudrowitz, Edwards & Kelcey
Chris McMullen, CCC TMA
Hamou Megdir, NJTPA
Joseph P. Miele, CSNJ, NJTA
SFC Dan Morocco, NJSP
Anita Perez, RideWise
Mike Reeves, SJTPO
Martin Robins, Rutgers - TPI
Judy Schleicher
Donald Shanis, DVRPC

Invited Guests:

Kenneth Afferton, Edwards & Kelcey
Sara Bluhm, NJBIA
Jon Carnegie, Rutgers - TPI
Dotty Drinkwater, CSNJ

DOT Staff:

William Beetle
Pat Snyder
Debra Firman
Maureen Sweet
Jim Lewis
Adnew Tessema
Bob Miller
Thomas Thatcher

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