Here's What NJ Transit May Soon Look Like: Gov. Murphy

Caren Lissner

NEW JERSEY — As part of Gov. Phil Murphy's multi-phased plan for state facilities and private businesses to reopen — called The Road Back — he has outlined parameters for public transit.

The state's largest transit agency, NJ Transit, already has followed state orders such as limiting occupancy of vehicles to 50 percent, and requiring riders and operators to wear face masks.

This week, Murphy unveiled the three stages of the reopening plan. They are intended to take the state from "maximum restrictions" to a "new normal."

For businesses, social activities, schools and day cares, the stages include activity modifications, social distancing, and cleaning. Murphy has said the stages are driven by statistics, including number of new coronavirus cases and how many hospital patients are on ventilators.

The section of the plan for public transit says:

  • With maximum restrictions: Public transit would only be used by essential workers. Transit agencies must institute "enhanced safeguards" like regular disinfection of vehicles, modifications to routes and service, and personal protection measures such as social distancing and face coverings for drivers and passengers.
  • Phase one of reopening: The same measures would be in place, but people who can't work from home may also use mass transit.
  • Phase two: The same measures would be in place as phase one.
  • Phase three: Use of public transit would no longer be discouraged for any passengers.
  • All stages: Safety measures across all stages — for businesses, agencies, and activities —include: Wash hands, wear masks in public, respect social distancing, minimize gatherings, disinfect workplaces and businesses, and no mass gatherings.

NJ Transit, which runs commuters buses and trains throughout the state, as well as to and from New York City, has already adapted to many of the measures. They also reduced routes early on due to a steep decline in usage.

They already have instituted several safety measures in the past two months:

  • Staff and customers on NJ Transit vehicles are required to wear face coverings per Governor Murphy's Executive Order 125.
  • That order also specifically limited NJ Transit vehicles to 50 percent capacity or less.
  • The agency has implemented rear-door boarding on all bus routes where rear-boarding is available.
  • Seats near the bus operator have been taken out of service to allow for proper social distancing for the operator.
  • The agency disinfects vehicles every 24 hours. "Hard surface cleaning and disinfecting typically includes handholds, arm rests, seating areas and restrooms," says the website. "Our enhanced cleaning regimen in stations includes additional disinfecting of frequent customer touchpoints such as ticket vending machines, handrails, and door handles. In major stations and terminals, this occurs once every shift."
  • For more NJ Transit covid-19 policies and procedures, click here.

Customers have been encouraged to sign up for My Transit alerts and to check njtransit.com for the latest updates.

Nancy Snyder, a spokeswoman for NJ Transit, said Wednesday in a phone call that the agency had already been working “very closely with the Governor’s Office as well as the State Department of Health. Our highest priority is protecting the health and safety of customers and employees. We’ve been maintaining social distancing in our vehicles. That will be a key focus as customers return to the system."

In a written statement, the transit agency said, "Maintaining appropriate social distancing onboard vehicles will remain a key focus as customers begin to return to the system. Additionally, our enhanced cleaning protocols will continue, including daily disinfection of all vehicles, as well as the regular and frequent disinfection of stations and terminals and employee work locations."

The agency itself has lost workers, including a popular conductor. They recently opened a testing center in East Rutherford for daily testing for employees.

To read more about NJ Transit's new safety measures, click here.

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This article originally appeared on the Hoboken Patch