NJTPA Update Blog

August 2023

Vibrant Places Program Accepting Applications

Posted: 8/31/2023 8:55:46 AM

The NJTPA is accepting applications for the Vibrant Places Program. This program provides technical support for a range of creative placemaking projects that enable future place-based investments, complementing other local economic development initiatives. Examples of past projects include visioning plans for underutilized locations, marketing plans, wayfinding designs, public art plans and visitors guides.

Eligible applicants include municipal and county governments, and non-profit, community-based, or non-governmental organizations in the NJTPA region. Special consideration is given to collaborations between municipalities, counties, and non-governmental organizations.

Up to four projects will be selected for technical assistance services in the form of staff time from The Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC) at Rutgers University and other subject-matter experts as needed. Projects should be small in scale and must be able to be completed within three to five months. All projects must be completed by May 31, 2024.

For additional information, including evaluation criteria, project examples/ideas, and detailed application instructions, visit the Vibrant Places page on the Together North Jersey website where you can find:

  • The application instructions document, which describes the application requirements and selection criteria.
  • The application form, which is to be completed and submitted with the application package.
  • A recording of an informational presentation about the program.
  • A link to sign up for office hours to speak with VTC staff and ask questions about the program or your application.
The application deadline is September 30. Notice of decision will be made in October. Projects are anticipated to begin late 2023.

For more information, contact Miriam Salerno at [email protected]

Active Transportation Plan Sketches Regionwide Walking and Biking Network

Posted: 8/30/2023 8:15:50 AM

People walking on the sidewalkThe NJTPA just released an Active Transportation Plan to provide a blueprint for creating a “safe, comfortable, and connected network” for walking and biking in the northern and central New Jersey region. This plan was crafted against the backdrop of a growing interest in walking and biking that emerged during the COVID lockdown in 2020. The plan is posted here.

The Active Transportation Plan aims to connect people and places in an environmentally sustainable way. The plan aligns with other NJTPA programs, such as promoting complete streets, transit oriented development, and multimodal safety. The plan was the subject of a presentation by NJTPA staff planner Keith Hamas at the NJTPA Joint Committee meeting on August 28 (a video of the presentation is here).

The plan revolves around several key principles: 

  • Safety: emphasizing the need to reduce bike and pedestrian crashes 
  • Connectivity: to create reliable walking and biking routes 
  • Opportunity: ensuring equitable access to non-motorized transportation options, particularly for underserved populations
  • Participation: encouraging more people to regularly bike and walk 
  • Engagement: to  gather the perspectives of traditionally underrepresented groups

The public engagement process for developing the plan included a mix of pop-up events, where the project team facilitated discussion and participation in an online survey and web map. These public input tools helped create an understanding of people’s preferences and the challenges they face with walking and biking. “Whether in urban, suburban or rural areas,” the plan finds, “most residents are seeking more opportunities to walk and bike, whether for commuting, for health, or for fun.”

To expand opportunities, the plan identifies a conceptual regional network consisting of more than 1,700 miles of roadways recommended for walking and biking improvements across North Jersey. More than 5.6 million people live within one mile of the network. The plan maps a half-mile buffer along roadways to assist in identifying possible low-stress alternatives to high-demand, high-stress routes.

Additionally, the plan includes a strategy guide to help cities and towns implement the recommendations. This guide outlines actions and strategies in various categories like capacity building, coordination, data collection, equity, funding, and community engagement.

The plan also offers two case studies, focusing on Parish Drive in Wayne Township and Main Street in the Boroughs of Stanhope and Netcong. A third case study focuses on best practices for designing active transportation infrastructure through major highway interchanges, which often present barriers and hazards along biking routes.

The NJTPA will offer ongoing support for implementing the plan recommendations including sharing data and a map viewer tool to assist counties and municipalities in prioritizing efforts. 


NJTPA Recruiting Young Adults for Advisory Group

Posted: 8/25/2023 12:54:56 PM

A graphic that says the NJTPA is recruiting 21 to 30 year olds in the region to participate on an advisory group called UpNext North Jersey.The NJTPA is seeking young adults with ideas for how to improve transportation and make northern and central New Jersey a vibrant place where people want to live.

Recruitment is underway for UpNext North Jersey, an advisory group open to residents of the NJTPA’s 13-county region who are ages 21 to 30. The NJTPA, with assistance from the Public Outreach and Engagement Team at Rutgers, launched the program in 2019 to engage young adults in the transportation planning process.

“As we prepare to update our Long Range Transportation Plan, it’s more important than ever that we engage younger people who will be using our transportation system for decades to come,” said Passaic County Commissioner John W. Bartlett, Chair of the NJTPA Board of Trustees. “UpNext members will help us create a vision for our region’s future.”

Members of the UpNext North Jersey advisory group will provide input on various ongoing NJTPA projects and programs, like the Long Range Transportation Plan and other initiatives at the county or community level.

“You don’t need to be a planner to serve on this advisory group. We’re hoping to recruit members as diverse as the 13-county region that we represent to ensure our plans reflect the needs of everyone who lives here,” NJTPA Executive Director David Behrend said.

As part of the program, the NJTPA provides UpNext North Jersey participants with unique opportunities to engage with thought leaders and decision makers throughout New Jersey. Events include leadership training opportunities, trips and site visits to important locations around the region, arts and cultural experiences, and opportunities to give back through volunteerism. The program aims to attract a broad range of young adults, not just those who are already engaged in planning or public policy fields.

The NJTPA region includes Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties.

After holding primarily virtual events since early 2020, UpNext returned to in-person events in late 2022, including a walking tour of Jersey City’s pedestrian plaza and bicycle facilities and a tour of Port Newark led by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  Events are expected to take place quarterly beginning in summer 2023, and the NJTPA and Rutgers will be looking to UpNext members to help plan and lead events, using them as opportunities for participants to be creative and to hone their leadership skills.

Applications are being accepted through September 30. Click here to apply. To learn more, visit  https://njtpa.org/UpNext.

TMA Training Programs Enable Independent Transit Use

Posted: 8/22/2023 12:05:58 PM

Donna Allison of RideWise demonstrates NJTRANSIT ticket vending machine during TMA travel trainingIf you’re not a regular transit user, finding your way to a job or doctor’s appointment by bus or rail can be a daunting task. For older people or those with disabilities, it can be an even greater challenge.

Transportation Management Associations (TMA) are trying to help. They offer a variety of travel training programs to help people get around by public transportation, providing a sense of freedom by enabling them to them to travel without relying on others.

Donna Allison, executive director of RideWise, described the travel training programs at the Aug. 14 RTAC meeting, including those offered by Cross County Connection, goHunterdon, Greater Mercer TMA, and My TMA/RideWise.

Travel training, provided to small groups or individuals, often includes field trips to teach participants how to travel safely and independently. In addition to serving older adults, people with disabilities and special needs students, the programs train social service staff who may want to learn about the buses and trains in the area so they can help their clients.“We’re connecting people to jobs, classes at local colleges, recreation and social opportunities, and essential appointments and services," Allison said.

Participants sit in a bus as part goHunterdon's travel training programSometimes the barrier is not the availability of transportation but knowing how to find it and use it, according to Allison. Individuals have to know how to plan their trip, where it stops, how to pay the fare. “Not all of this information is centralized, most is limited online, which not everyone can access,” she said.

In 2022, a pilot program trained 120 students at Camden County High School’s transitional program. Students in the high school have autism spectrum disorder and receive customized training to meet their individual needs, “which is the hallmark of travel training for each TMA,” Allison said.

The transportation coaching program at goHunterdon assists individuals in small groups with using Hunterdon County’s LINK bus system. It also has worked with Hunterdon Regional Central High School’s special education individual community living program to coach  students and is currently working with five regional high schools to develop a program for the new school year.

The Greater Mercer TMA training program for transitioning high school students recently took students from Steinert High School on a bus trip along Route 130 on  to a retail area with a movie theater. A few weeks later, students traveled on their own to see a movie. Allison said. “Not only did students learn about independence but also about financial savings by taking transit for only a dollar fare.”

RideWise and its partners trained 436 individuals through a series of in-class sessions and field trips in the last fiscal year. This past spring, they combined travel training with job skills preparation. Partnering with a local restaurant, they took students to a restaurant via public transit where they learned how to take orders, make change, and serve guests. The program will expand thanks to a grant from NJ TRANSIT.

Other TMAs, including Avenues in Motion, EZ Ride and Hudson TMA, don’t currently have formal travel training programs but provide trip planning. Keep Middlesex Moving outsources training to the New Jersey Travel Independent Program (NJ TIP) at the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center. “It’s a very labor-intensive program so the larger the service area, the harder it probably is to implement because it requires a lot of staff time,” Allison said.

As she presented photos of two excited participants at the end of their recent trips – one who was taught how to use Uber rideshare to get around and another who took part in travel training to get to a volunteer opportunity at local hospital – Allison said: “This is really what travel training is all about: the freedom and the ability to get where you want to go without having to rely on someone else.”