NJ Transit Board pushes zero-emission fleet forward with approvals

Oct. 22, 2021
The board advanced design of the new Northern Bus Garage, as well as approved a contract to purchase the agency’s first all-electric buses.

The New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) Board of Directors took a series of steps at its meeting on Oct. 20 that will advance plans to incorporate zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure into its fleet.

The agency is committed to transitioning 100 percent of its bus fleet to zero emissions by 2040, which supports New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s Energy Master Plan for the state. The board approved a $9.4 million contract with New Flyer of America to purchase eight, 40-foot battery electric buses. These buses will be part of a limited deployment in the Camden region.

“We are in the midst of transforming our mass transit system into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Board Chair Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “The historic actions we take today in approving these battery electric buses will reap benefits not only for the overburdened communities who will see cleaner air, but for our children and grandchildren by systemically creating a new paradigm in the way we choose to power our transit system.”

The contract calls for the eight buses to be delivered during a one-year time frame and includes options to purchase up to 75 additional zero-emission buses.

NJ Transit explains the Camden pilot project will test electric buses in real-world conditions on specific NJ Transit routes. On the vehicle and route planning side, the agency will gather data and information on the effects of weather, passenger volume, road conditions and other factors on electric bus performance, including travel distance available between recharging. The project will also review the infrastructure resources and work required to modernize NJ Transit’s bus garages to accept new charging stations and the greater power feeds needed to energize them. This project also will help NJ Transit understand how to accomplish the fleet and garage infrastructure upgrades without disrupting the regular daily service our customers rely on.

One of NJ Transit’s garages envisioned to support its future zero-emission fleet is the new Northern Bus Garage, which is proposed in Ridgefield Park. The board approved the next phase of the design process, which will bring the project to the 30 percent design mark.

Gannett Fleming was awarded a contract to complete Phase IA: Conceptual Design in September 2020 for the project. The firm’s contract has been amended by $12.5 million to include Phase IB – Preliminary Design/Engineering to move the design effort from 10 percent to the 30 percent level. NJ Transit says Gannett Fleming will provide survey and base mapping and right-of-way engineering, conduct utility, geotechnical, environmental investigations, prepare requirements for National Environmental Policy Act and develop preliminary and value engineering.

“NJ Transit’s Northern Bus Garage is vital to our plan to ultimately transition to a 100 percent zero-emissions bus fleet,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin S. Corbett. “NJ Transit’s 16 bus garages are aged and beyond capacity. This state-of-the-art facility will provide much-needed additional capacity for the existing bus fleet and accommodate future growth as zero-emissions buses are added to the fleet.”

The Northern Bus Garage project calls for the construction of a new 500-bus garage to increase bus storage and maintenance capacity, as well as include the required infrastructure to support the operations and maintenance of zero-emission buses.

“Advancing the design of the Northern Bus Garage is a critical project that ensures we can maintain and expand bus service for our customers who rely on NJ Transit to get them to jobs, school and recreation,” said NJ Transit Board Member Richard A. Maroko. “These upgrades are part of our continuing commitment to meet the needs of our customers and ensure reliability.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.