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Congestion Buster Task Force

Meeting Minutes

NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room, Ewing, NJ

December 11, 2001

Welcome and Opening Remarks

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Jim Sinclair at 2:34 p.m. Brief introductions were made around the table.

Barry Lem and Bill Ragozine spoke about an innovative technology called the Southern New Jersey Information System. This pager system, being developed through an L-3 Communications and NJDOT partnership, provides real time traffic information to the user. It is currently being tested along Route 676 in Camden County.

The importance of effective incident management was noted, especially when an accident or other incident occurs on a major artery with no alternative parallel route.

Chairman Sinclair distributed an Interim Summary Report. This two-page report summarizes work completed to date by the CBTF, outlines next steps and lists major areas identified for recommendations. Jim asked the Task Force members to review the report, and stated that it will be posted on the CBTF website.

NJ Transit will be announcing a new fare policy initiative on December 12, 2001. Fare increases are viewed as a moderate step to take in solving the large budget crisis facing NJ Transit. All present at the meeting agreed that support for Transit should be an important issue in the new administration. (Six public hearings on the proposed fare increase are scheduled throughout the State on January 2, 2002.)

Old Business

Website update and comments were distributed.

There was no discussion of old business.

New Business

  • Trip Reduction and Cost of Trip Analysis
  • Bob Miller, Manager, NJDOT Bureau of Technical Analysis, made a presentation on Congestion Reduction and Costs of Trips. Highlights follow:
  • The final numbers are available to compute the expected increase in peak hour trips from 1999 to 2010; it will be necessary to reduce 155,000 trips to maintain the 1999 level.
Quantifying examples were given to show how that number could be reached:
  • 15% of all work vehicle trips would need to be eliminated or switched to non-peak hour travel (Flex-Time)
  • Current Vehicle Occupancy of 1.1would need to increase to 1.29
  • Equivalent to 4,260 full buses (more than existing NJT current operational fleet)
  • 75% of workers would need to telecommute 1 day per week; 37% - 2 days per week; 15% - all the time
  • 25% of workers would have to work a 4-day Alternate Work Week every week
  • Mandatory Commute Trip Reduction programs have reduced approximately 4.1% of trips; this equates to 43,000 peak hour work trips if applied in New Jersey
  • Mandatory Employer Trip Reduction program sought to eliminate 100,000 peak hour work trips in New Jersey
Ranges in reductions of Vehicle Miles Traveled using different demand management strategies were given. It was noted that while some strategies, such as Smart Growth, offer great potential, they are long-term strategies.

Cost of trip for an auto driver was compared to a transit rider. The socio-economic costs of congestion were also presented.

The discussion that followed focused primarily on land use and how most people in New Jersey need an automobile. Location-efficient mortgages, Progressive Insurance's pay-by-usage pricing policy and attractive transit choices were mentioned as ways to induce people to become one-car families. The Hudson-Bergen light rail line was cited as an example of the impact land use can have on transit success.

Subcommittee Reports

Mike Egenton, spokesperson for the Legislative Subcommittee, said a subcommittee meeting was held to review enacted or proposed commuter and congestion legislation. A matrix outlining this work was distributed. Mike also mentioned the subcommittee will be looking at what incentives and strategies are being done in other states. It was suggested to include New York, Connecticut and other surrounding states in the research process.

The Traffic Management Subcommittee, headed by spokesperson Ken Afferton, presented six recommendations. They are:
  1. Implement traffic responsive signals and ramp metering; implement automatic incident detection; expand the E-Z Pass infrastructure platform to include traffic volume monitoring.
  2. Implement or expand off-peak value pricing toll incentives on all tolled facilities (including bridges)
  3. Provide information system to obtain directions and real-time travel time information for NJ Transit and ridehare programs.
  4. Establish real-time traffic and alternate routing information systems
  5. Establish State or employer-sponsored shuttle services; encourage alternative work schedules
  6. Identify congestion-reducing capital projects; improve roadway exits
Discussion ensued about the effectiveness of value pricing on roadways, bridges and tunnels. Data, if available, will be provided to the Task Force. Other items noted were: gasoline tax is considered alternative toll on interstates, the use of tollways in California and congestion pricing for peak hour transit and parking.

The Land Use Subcommittee expects to make many recommendations, including a suggestion for one or more demonstration projects. Bill Ragozine, spokesperson, gave an example of how small demand shifts can impact congestion and land use - instituting flex-time at an industrial park eliminated the necessity of widening Rt. 73.

Two recommendations were distributed at the meeting:
  1. Transit-oriented development and transit funding priority; pursue timed-growth planning
  2. Provide incentives to local municipalities to include sidewalks/bike paths, transit-friendly development, park and ride lots and reduced parking in conjunction with shuttles in their zoning/planning requirements.
Members of the Task Force agreed that there were many opportunities to make recommendations concerning land use and growth. In addition to the ideas noted above, other ideas mentioned include: smart growth planning grants, creation of Transportation Enhancement Districts, transfer of development rights and securing "municipal buy-in" during the planning process.

Gail Toth will lead the Goods Movement Subcommittee. A recommendation to increase rail freight funding and accompanying infrastructure was presented.

Sandra Brillhart was selected as spokesperson of the Demand Management Subcommittee. One recommendation was presented:

Speak directly to various employer categories (hospitals, casinos, pharmaceutical, etc.) to determine what TDM options and incentives would be of interest to them.

Other ideas mentioned include:
  • Business tax incentives
  • Compressed work week, flexible work schedules
  • Ridesharing - successful applications beyond transit
Anita Perez, spokesperson of the Transit Subcommittee, reported that increased funding for Transit will be one area the subcommittee will focus on.

All Task Force members are considered part of the Public Education and Marketing Subcommittee. It is anticipated that many of the CBTF proposals will involve the need for change in employer and public attitude toward work schedules, transit and mode choices. Jennifer Jaroski was asked by Chairman Sinclair to lead this subcommittee.

Organizational Items

Chairman Sinclair stated that Land Use and Demand Management are two important areas the Task Force will focus on. He wants to devote one entire meeting (January and February) to each topic. He asked subcommittee spokespersons to determine what speakers and materials they would want for the meetings.

Staff from NJDOT and Rutgers-Transportation Policy Institute offered their assistance with any analysis needs of the subcommittees.

The next meeting is scheduled for January 22nd at 9:30 a.m., NJDOT Multi-Purpose Room.

The meeting adjourned at 4:30 p.m.


Task Force Members (or Delegates):

Chairman Jim Sinclair, NJBIA
Ken Afferton, Edwards & Kelcey
Sandra Brillhart, Greater Mercer TMA
Jack Claffey, DVRPC
Dotty Drinkwater, CSNJ
Mike Egenton, NJ Chamber of Commerce
Erica Ferry, Pharmacia
Cliff Heath, NJAFA
Joanne Jaeger, LFR Levine
Jennifer Jaroski, TSTC
Wm. Layton, Concrete & Aggregate Assoc.
Barry Lem, L-3 Communications
Anita Perez, RideWise
Bill Ragozine, Cross County Connection TMA
Mike Reeves, SJTPO
Martin Robins, Rutgers - TPI
Judy Schleicher, I-80 Task Force

Invited Guests:

Allan Lichtenstein, Rutgers - TPI
Bob Murphy, SmartRoute/SmarTraveler

DOT Staff:

William Beetle
Noreen Cardinali
Talvin Davis
Debra Firman
Roman Horodysky
Jim Lewis
Bob Miller
Adnew Tessema
Susan Weber

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