Bill Text: NJ S2600 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Amended


Bill Title: Increases transparency and accountability for NJT and independence of NJT board members; establishes Office of Customer Advocate; requires greater detail for capital program.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced) 2020-12-10 - Referred to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee [S2600 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-S2600-Amended.html

[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 2600

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 22, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  LORETTA WEINBERG

District 37 (Bergen)

Senator  THOMAS H. KEAN, JR.

District 21 (Morris, Somerset and Union)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Increases transparency and accountability for NJT and independence of NJT board members; establishes Office of Customer Advocate; requires greater detail for capital program.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As reported by the Senate Transportation Committee on December 8, 2020, with amendments.

  


An Act concerning reforms to the New Jersey Transit Corporation, amending P.L.1979, c.150, P.L.2018, c.162, and P.L.1984, c.73, supplementing Title 27 of the Revised Statutes, and repealing section 16 of P.L.2018, c.162.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

      1.   Section 4 of P.L.1979, c.150 (C.27:25-4) is amended to read as follows:

      4.   a.  There is hereby established in the Executive Branch of the State Government the New Jersey Transit Corporation, a body corporate and politic with corporate succession.  For the purpose of complying with the provisions of Article V, Section IV, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, the corporation is hereby allocated within the Department of Transportation, but, notwithstanding that allocation, the corporation shall be independent of any supervision or control by the department or by any body or officer thereof. The corporation is hereby constituted as an instrumentality of the State exercising public and essential governmental functions, and the exercise by the corporation of the powers conferred by this act shall be deemed and held to be an essential governmental function of the State. 

      b.   The corporation shall be governed by a board which shall consist of 13 members.

      [11]  Eleven of the members shall be voting members and shall consist of: the Commissioner of Transportation and the State Treasurer, who shall be members ex officio, another member of the Executive Branch to be selected by the Governor who shall also serve ex officio, and eight public members who shall be appointed by the Governor as follows:

      two members, with the advice and consent of the Senate, who shall each have experience as either a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider or regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider or have a professional background in passenger rail service, freight rail management, transportation capital planning, transportation and public transportation capital construction, federal transportation policy, State transportation policy, real estate investment or development, human resources management, or transportation capital finance, one upon the recommendation of the New Jersey members of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and one upon the recommendation of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority;

      two members, with the advice and consent of the Senate, one who shall have experience as a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider and one who shall have experience as a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider; and

      four members, who shall each have a professional background in passenger rail service, freight rail management, transportation capital planning, transportation and public transportation capital construction, federal transportation policy, State transportation policy, real estate investment or development, human resources management, communication, or transportation capital finance, one appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the President of the Senate, one appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the General Assembly, and two appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

      All public members, except for those appointed upon the recommendation of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly, shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate, and all public members shall serve for four year staggered terms and until their successors are appointed and qualified.  No more than three of the six public members appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate shall be members of the same political party.  Each public member may be removed from office by the Governor for cause.  A vacancy in the membership of the board occurring other than by expiration of term shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment, but for the unexpired term only.  The board shall annually designate a [vice chairperson and] secretary.  The secretary need not be a member. 

      There shall be two non-voting members of the board, who shall not be considered in determining a quorum.  The non-voting members shall be appointed as follows: one appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the labor organization representing the plurality of the employees of the corporation involved in rail operations and one appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the labor organization representing the plurality of the employees of the corporation involved in motorbus operations. Each non-voting member appointed upon recommendation of a labor organization shall be appointed for a term of four years, provided, however, that if at any time during the term of appointment the non-voting member ceases to be affiliated with the labor organization representing the plurality of the relevant segment of employees of the corporation, then such labor organization may, thereupon or at any time thereafter during such term, recommend a new member to the Governor for appointment to serve the remainder of the term.  If the local bargaining unit decertifies its existing union affiliation and certifies a new union, the union which represents the plurality of the relevant segment of employees may recommend a new member to the Governor for appointment to serve the remainder of the term.  The [chairman] chairperson of the board may, at the [chairman's] chairperson's discretion, exclude such non-voting member from attending any portion of a board meeting or any other meeting held for the purpose of discussing negotiations with labor organizations, pending litigation involving the labor organization, the investigation, evaluation, or discipline of an employee of the corporation, or matters concerning private entities engaged in the provision of motorbus regular route service, paratransit service, or motorbus charter service that would otherwise not be considered public information. Each non-voting member appointed upon recommendation of a labor organization may be removed by the Governor for cause.

      For the purposes of this subsection:

      "experience as a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider" includes any rider who is a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider at the time of the member's appointment or reappointment and any rider who has been a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider in three of the five years preceding the member's appointment or reappointment.

      "experience as a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider" includes any rider who is a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider at the time of the member's appointment or reappointment and any rider who has been a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider in three of the five years preceding the member's appointment or reappointment.

      c.   Board members other than those serving ex officio shall serve without compensation, but members shall be reimbursed for actual expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. 

      d.   The [Commissioner of Transportation shall serve as] board shall elect a chairperson of the board [,] from among its 1public1 members that are authorized to vote.  1Ex officio members of the board shall not be eligible to serve as the chairperson.1  The chairperson shall be elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of the appointed members of the board that are authorized to vote and shall serve for a term of two years.  If the board fails to elect a chairperson, the vice chairperson shall serve as chairperson until the election of a chairperson.  If the board fails to elect a chairperson and vice chairperson, the longest tenured public member of the board that is authorized to vote shall serve as chairperson until the election of a chairperson.  If more than one member shares the longest tenure, the acting chairperson shall be decided by random selection from among those members with the longest tenure and shall serve as chairperson until the election of a chairperson.  The chairperson shall chair board meetings, and shall have responsibility for the scheduling and convening of all meetings of the board.  The board shall elect a vice chairperson of the board from among its 1public1 members that are authorized to vote.  1Ex officio members of the board shall not be eligible to serve as the vice chairperson.1  The vice chairperson shall be elected by the affirmative vote of a majority of the appointed members of the board that are authorized to vote and shall serve for a term of two years.  In the absence of the chairperson, the vice chairperson shall chair the board meeting.  Each ex officio member of the board may designate two employees of the ex officio member's department or agency, one of whom may represent the ex officio member at meetings of the board, except that any such designee shall not 1be eligible to1 serve as chairperson 1or vice chairperson1 of the board or otherwise preside over or chair 1or vice chair1 any board meeting 1or committee meeting1.  A designee may lawfully vote and otherwise act on behalf of the member for whom the person constitutes the designee. Any such designation shall be in writing delivered to the board and shall continue in effect until revoked or amended by writing delivered to the board.

      e.   The powers of the corporation shall be vested in the voting members of the board thereof and a majority of the appointed members of the board who are authorized to vote shall constitute a quorum at any meeting thereof.  Actions may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the board at any meeting thereof by the affirmative vote of a majority of the appointed members who are authorized to vote.  No vacancy in the membership of the board shall impair the right of a quorum to exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the board. 

      f.    A true copy of the minutes of every meeting of the board shall be delivered forthwith, by and under the certification of the secretary thereof, to the Governor.  No action taken at such meeting by the board shall have force or effect until approved by the Governor or until 10 days after such copy of the minutes shall have been delivered.  If, in said 10-day period, the Governor returns such copy of the minutes with veto of any action taken by the board or any member thereof at such meeting, such action shall be null and of no effect.  The Governor may approve all or part of the action taken at such meeting prior to the expiration of the said 10-day period. 

      g.   (1)  The board meetings shall be subject to the provisions of the "Senator Byron M. Baer Open Public Meetings Act," P.L.1975, c.231 (C.10:4-6 et seq.), except that any agenda related to a meeting of the corporation's board of directors shall be provided to the public at least 1[five] seven1 calendar days prior to the meeting and except that one-half of the total number of meetings of the board shall be held in the evening after 6:00 p.m.  Agendas may be revised up to 48 hours prior to the meeting in the case of emergencies requiring immediate action.  Each notice of a board meeting and each agenda for a board meeting shall be published on the corporation's website.  Board meetings shall be viewable on the corporation's website in real time and shall be archived and made available to the public for subsequent viewing on the corporation's website.  Meeting minutes shall be archived and published on the corporation's website. 

      (2)  The board shall hold a minimum of 10 public board meetings per year 1provided that the board shall not allow more than 60 calendar days to elapse without holding a public board meeting1.  Public hearings held pursuant to subsection d. of section 8 of P.L.1979, c.150 (C.27:25-8) shall not be considered public board meetings for the purposes of this subsection.  1For each public board meeting, the board shall hold a work session at least seven calendar days before the board meeting for members of the board to discuss items to be listed on the agenda for the upcoming public board meeting and any other item that a member of the board believes is in the public interest or board's interest to discuss.  A quorum of the board shall be necessary to conduct business at a work session.  The work sessions shall be open to the public and the agenda for the upcoming board meeting shall be published in accordance with this section before the beginning of any work session.  An item shall not be listed on an agenda or voted on by the board at a public board meeting unless the item was discussed or open for discussion at a work session of the board, except in the case of emergencies as provided in this section.1  

      (3)  Notwithstanding the requirements of this subsection, a board member may address the board at any public 1board1 meeting 1or work session1 concerning an issue or item that the board member believes is in the public interest or board's interest to discuss.  After a preliminary discussion where each board member is afforded an opportunity to discuss the issue or item, the board, upon motion of a board member, may vote to add the issue or item to the agenda of a subsequent board meeting or to take other appropriate action.  In lieu of a vote by the board, the chairperson may add the issue or item to the agenda of a subsequent board meeting.

(cf: P.L.2018, c.162, s.1)

 

      2.   Section 2 of P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-4.1) is amended to read as follows:

      2.   a.  The board of directors of the corporation shall:

      (1)  Execute oversight of the corporation's executive director and other management in the effective and ethical management of the corporation, including but not limited to review and approval of any fare changes and the elimination or substantial curtailment of 1paratransit service,1 motorbus regular route service, rail passenger service, or light rail service;

      (2)  Understand, review, and monitor the implementation of fundamental financial and management controls and operational decisions of the corporation, including but not limited to review and approval of any fare changes [and] , the elimination or substantial curtailment of 1paratransit service,1 motorbus regular route service, rail passenger service, or light rail service, and any major planning document, including but not limited to any strategic plan, capital plan, unconstrained capital plan, or any other planning document that purports to portray the corporation's vision for the future;

      (3)  Establish policies regarding the payment of salary, compensation, and reimbursements to, and establish rules for the time and attendance of, the executive director and management, including the formal direct hiring of the Executive Director, Director of the Office of Customer Advocate, and Auditor General and the formal approval of 1hiring by the Executive Director for1 any candidate to be hired to serve in a Senior Vice President or Chief role including but not limited to the following positions or subject matter: Surface Transit and General Manager of Bus Operations; Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer; Chief of Police and Office of Emergency Management; General Manager of Rail Operations; Capital Programs; Communications and Customer Experience; Chief Administrative Officer; Regulatory and Government Affairs; Chief of Staff; and Chief Safety Officer, provided that nothing in P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-4.1 et al.) shall be construed to apply civil service rules and regulations to the corporation;

      (4)  Adopt a code of ethics, in consultation with the chief ethics officer, applicable to each board member, officer, and employee that, at a minimum, includes the applicable standards established by State law;

      (5)  Require that the corporation establish written policies and procedures on personnel including policies protecting employees from retaliation for disclosing information concerning acts of wrongdoing, misconduct, malfeasance, or other inappropriate behavior by an employee of the corporation;

      (6)  Adopt a policy that provides guidelines for when it is appropriate for the chief ethics officer to forward the results and findings of a preliminary investigation conducted by the chief ethics officer to the State Ethics Commission, Office of the Attorney General, county prosecutor's office, or any other appropriate agency for further investigation or action;

      (7)  Adopt a defense and indemnification policy and disclose such policy to any and all prospective board members; and

      (8)  [Adopt] Develop and adopt corporate bylaws, which shall be reviewed and updated within 180 days of the effective date of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to ensure consistency with P.L.1979, c.150 (C.27:25-1 et al.), P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-4.1 et al.), and P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and at least once every five years thereafterThe board shall ensure that the bylaws are made available to the public upon request and are published on the corporation's website.

      b.   (1)  The members of the board shall perform each of their duties as board members, including but not limited to those imposed by this section, in good faith and with that degree of diligence, care, and skill which an ordinarily prudent person in like position would use under similar circumstances, and may take into consideration the views and policies of any elected official or body, or other person and ultimately apply independent judgment in the best interest of the corporation, its mission, and the public.

      (2)  At the time that a board member takes and subscribes the board member's oath of office, or within 60 days after the effective date of P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-4.1 et al.) if the board member has already taken and subscribed the board member's oath of office, the board member shall execute an acknowledgement, in a form developed by the corporation, in which the board member shall, at a minimum:

      (a)  acknowledge that the board member understands that a board member has an obligation to perform duties and responsibilities to the best of the board member's abilities, in good faith and with proper diligence and care, consistent with the enabling compact, mission, and by-laws of the corporation and the applicable laws of this State; and that the duty to the corporation is derived from and governed by its mission;

      (b)  acknowledge that the board member understands the board member's duty of loyalty and care to the corporation and commitment to the corporation's mission and the public interest; and the board member's obligation to act in the best interests of the corporation and the people whom the corporation serves;

      (c)  agree that a board member has an obligation to become knowledgeable about the mission, purpose, functions, responsibilities, and statutory duties of the corporation and, when necessary, to make reasonable inquiry of management and others with knowledge and expertise so as to inform the board member's decisions;

      (d) agree to exercise independent judgment on all matters before the board;

      (e)  agree not to divulge confidential discussions and confidential matters that come before the board for consideration or action;

      (f)  agree to disclose to the board and the chief ethics officer any conflicts, or the appearance of a conflict, of a personal, financial, ethical, or professional nature that could inhibit the board member from performing the board member's duties in good faith and with due diligence and care; and

      (g)  certify that the board member does not have any interest in, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the board member's duties in the public interest.

      c.   Individuals appointed to the board of directors shall participate in training regarding their legal, financial, and ethical responsibilities as directors of the corporation within six months of appointment to the board.  Board members shall participate in continuing training as may be required to remain informed of best practices and regulatory, legal, financial, and ethical responsibilities and standards.

      d.   No board member, including the chairperson, shall serve as the corporation's executive director, chief financial officer, or hold any senior management position while serving as a member of the board.  1No ex officio member of the board, or their designee, shall serve as the chairperson or vice chairperson of the board or as a chairperson of any committee of the board.1

      e.   (1)     The board of directors shall establish an audit committee, to be comprised of not less than three members, who shall possess the necessary skills to understand the duties and functions of the committee, including having sufficient knowledge in the areas of finance and accounting.  The audit committee shall meet on at least a quarterly basis.

      (2)  The audit committee shall review and monitor: the reliability of financial statements and the adequacy of financial controls; the results of any audit; and compliance with legal, regulatory, and ethical requirements.  The audit committee shall have responsibility for supervising and reviewing the work of the internal audit department, which has responsibility for investigating fraud, waste and abuse within and affecting the agency.  1The Auditor General and internal audit department shall report directly to the audit committee and the board of directors and shall be independent of any supervision of the executive director, unless the board or audit committee authorizes or requires such supervision.1  In furtherance of this purpose, the corporation shall make available to the board, in a centralized database that is easily accessible to all board members, any documents regarding an audit, including internal audit documents, memoranda, and reports whether in draft or final form.  In the absence of such a centralized database, the corporation shall make any such document available to a board member upon request of the board member.

      f.    (1)  The board of directors shall establish an administration committee to be comprised of not less than three independent members, who shall possess the necessary skills to understand the duties and functions of the committee; provided, however, that in the event that a board has less than three independent members, the board may appoint non-independent members to the committee, provided that the independent members shall constitute a majority of the members of the committee.  The administration committee shall meet on at least a quarterly basis.

      (2)  The administration committee shall: advise the board of directors on financial matters, including, but not limited to, proposed budgets including the capital program, major expenditures of the corporation, and all financial policies; receive a  bi-monthly report from the head of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, or any successor office, which shall also be provided to the executive director, regarding the activities of that office, including a summary of the nature and number of the complaints involving discrimination or harassment received by that office and any actions taken by that office in response to those complaints; receive a bi-monthly report from the director of the Human Resources Office, or any successor office, which shall also be provided to the executive director, regarding the activities of that office, including a summary of job vacancies, job postings, new employees, reclassification of job titles, retirements, terminations, disciplinary actions, and any other personnel decisions; and meet at least annually with representatives of the labor organizations representing employees of the corporation.  Reports shall not include any personally identifiable information or personnel information protected under state or federal law.

      (3)  Senior management of the corporation shall collaborate with the administration committee on the development of any fiscal item, including but not limited to proposed budgets including the capital program, major expenditures of the corporation, and all financial policies.  Until a fiscal item has been presented to the administration committee, the corporation shall not submit the fiscal item to any other department of State government or a municipal planning organization as part of the budget process, shall not take any internal action to officially adopt the item such as the enactment of an agency wide or departmental policy or procedure, and shall not provide any public statements or press releases treating the fiscal item as though it has been enacted or adopted.  Once a fiscal item has been presented before the administration committee, if the members of the committee find that the fiscal item should not advance or needs to be modified, the board may vote, at a subsequent board meeting, to require the corporation to take such action as recommended by the administration committee.

      g.   (1)  The board of directors shall establish an operations and customer service committee, to be comprised of not less than three independent members, who shall possess the necessary skills to understand the duties and functions of the committee.  The operations and customer service committee shall meet at least on a quarterly basis.

      (2)  The operations and customer service committee shall: advise the board of directors on day to day operations and maintenance; review vital statistics including on time performance, cost of service, and service rationalization; review the corporation's service plan and service standards; oversee fleet management plans, strategic planning, and the corporation's business plan; and oversee the corporation's customer service plan and statistics.

      h.   (1)  The board of directors shall establish a capital planning and privatization committee, to be comprised of not less than three independent members, who shall possess the necessary skills to understand the duties and functions of the committee.  The capital planning and privatization committee shall meet on at least a quarterly basis.

      (2)  The capital planning and privatization committee shall: review and monitor the status of capital projects including the annual element of the corporation's five year capital program; review the rationale for the capital program, its budgets and schedule, and address fast tracking key projects; oversee the development of fare policy and technology; and review real estate transactions and route and service issues that affect private carriers or other properties with which the corporation does business.

      i.    For the purposes of this section, an "independent member" is one who:

      (1)  is not, and in the past two years has not been, employed by the corporation or an affiliate in an executive capacity;

      (2)  is not, and in the past two years has not been, employed by an entity that received remuneration valued at more than $15,000 for goods and services provided to the corporation or received any other form of financial assistance valued at more than $15,000 from the corporation;

      (3)  is not a relative of an executive officer or employee in an executive position of the corporation or an affiliate; and

      (4)  is not, and in the past two years has not been, a lobbyist registered under a state or local law and paid by a client to influence the management decisions, contract awards, rate determinations, or any other similar actions of the corporation or an affiliate.

      j.    Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, the board shall not directly or indirectly, including through any subsidiary, extend or maintain credit, arrange for the extension of credit, or renew an extension of credit, in the form of a personal loan to or for any officer, board member, or employee, or equivalent thereof, of the corporation.

      k.   In addition to any functions and responsibilities delegated thereto, each committee of the board shall serve as an apparatus for members of the committee to obtain information and to engage in policy discussions within the purview of the committee.  Upon the request of a committee member, any officer or employee of the corporation shall provide information or documents to the committee at a time and in a form and manner determined by the committee.  The chairperson of the North Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee or a designee, the chairperson of the South Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee or a designee, and the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate or a designee may attend any committee meeting for the purpose of providing pertinent information or commentary to the members of the committee.

      l.    Notwithstanding the allocation of individual board members to the committees established by the board of directors and the delegation of functions and responsibilities to those committees, the function and responsibility of each committee shall remain a function and responsibility of the board of directors and each member thereof.  The board of directors, and each member thereof, shall remain authorized and obligated to exercise the functions and fulfill the responsibilities of each committee.  Each board member in fulfilling these responsibilities shall apply independent judgment in the best interest of the corporation, its mission, and the public.

      1m.  Notwithstanding the establishment of committees pursuant to this section, the board may establish any ad hoc or temporary committee to address a specific issue that is of interest to the board or the public.

      n.  Each committee established pursuant to this section shall submit a committee report to the board for each committee meeting.  The report shall include a written summary of the substance of any discussions and any action taken at the committee meeting.1

(cf: P.L.2018, c.162, s.2)

 

     3.    Section 3 of P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-4.2) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    a.   (1)     There is hereby established the North Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee within the New Jersey Transit Corporation for the purpose of providing advice, input, and guidance to the corporation and the corporation's board of directors from customers of the corporation who reside in North Jersey.  The committee shall: provide advice, input, and guidance to the New Jersey Transit Corporation [and] , its board of directors and committees thereof, and the Office of Customer Advocate on issues affecting the corporation and customers of the corporation, particularly those issues that affect services provided in the northern part of the State; review proposals to be considered before the corporation's board of directors concerning fare increases, curtailment of services, and expansion of services; and review items listed on the agenda for meetings of the corporation's board of directors that would increase fares, curtail services, or expand services and provide written feedback to the board and the Office of Customer Advocate prior to the board meeting concerning those agenda items. 

     (2)   A member of the committee shall be required to: reside in one of the following counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union, or Warren; and either be a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider or a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider; and primarily use corporation motorbus regular route service, rail passenger service, or light rail service in the northern part of the State, or have substantial public transportation experience.

     (3)   The committee shall consist of 15 voting members, who shall serve a term of four years and without compensation, to be appointed as follows:

     three members to be appointed by the board of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority;

     [six] five members to be appointed by the Governor;

     one member to be appointed by the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate;

     one member to be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly;

     one member to be appointed by the President of the Senate;

     one member to be appointed by the Minority Leader of the General Assembly;

     one member to be appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate;

     one member to be appointed by a nonprofit entity, which shall be selected jointly by the Speaker of the General Assembly and the President of the Senate, with a history of rider advocacy, encouraging smart growth, and advocating for investment in public transportation and transit-oriented development initiatives; and

     one member to be appointed by a nonprofit entity, which shall be selected jointly by the Speaker of the General Assembly and the President of the Senate, that serves as a consumer rail passenger organization in the State.

     (4)   The powers of the committee shall be vested in the members of the committee and a majority of the appointed members shall constitute a quorum at any meeting thereof.  Actions may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the committee at any meeting thereof by the affirmative vote of a majority of the appointed members.  The seat of any member who fails to maintain the requirements established in paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be deemed vacant.  A vacancy in the membership of the committee shall not impair the right of a quorum to exercise all rights and perform all duties of the committee.  Any vacancy in the membership of the committee shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and for the remainder of the unexpired term.

     (5)   The committee shall elect from among its members a chairperson and vice chairperson.  The chairperson shall preside over meetings of the committee.  In the absence of the chairperson, the vice chairperson shall preside over meetings of the committee.  The chairperson shall have the responsibility of scheduling and convening all meetings of the committee.  The committee shall designate an individual to serve as secretary to the committee who need not be a member of the committee.

     b.    (1)  There is hereby established the South Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee within the New Jersey Transit Corporation for the purpose of providing advice, input, and guidance to the corporation and the corporation's board of directors from customers of the corporation who reside in South Jersey.  The committee shall: provide advice, input, and guidance to the New Jersey Transit Corporation [and] , its board of directors and committees thereof, and the Office of Customer Advocate on issues affecting the corporation and customers of the corporation, particularly those issues that affect services provided in the southern part of the State; review proposals to be considered before the corporation's board of directors concerning fare increases, curtailment of services, and expansion of services; and review items listed on the agenda for meetings of the corporation's board of directors that would increase fares, curtail services, or expand services and provide written feedback to the board and the Office of Customer Advocate prior to the board meeting concerning those agenda items.

     (2)   A member of the committee shall be required to: reside in one of the following counties: Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, or Salem; and either be a regular corporation motorbus regular route service rider or a regular corporation rail passenger service or light rail service rider; and primarily use corporation motorbus regular route service, rail passenger service, or light rail service in the southern part of the State, or have substantial public transportation experience.

     (3)   The committee shall consist of 15 voting members, who shall serve a term of four years and without compensation, to be appointed as follows:

     two members to be appointed by the board members of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission from New Jersey;

     [six] five members to be appointed by the Governor;

     one member to be appointed by the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate;

     one member to be appointed by the Speaker of the General Assembly;

     one member to be appointed by the President of the Senate;

     one member to be appointed by the Minority Leader of the General Assembly;

     one member to be appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate;

     one member to be appointed by the board of the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization;

     one member to be appointed by a nonprofit transportation management association, which shall be selected jointly by the Speaker of the General Assembly and the President of the Senate, that provides transportation-related services in the southern portion of the State; and

     one member to be appointed by a nonprofit entity, which shall be selected jointly by the Speaker of the General Assembly and the President of the Senate, that serves as a consumer rail passenger organization in the State.

     (4)   The powers of the committee shall be vested in the members of the committee and a majority of the appointed members shall constitute a quorum at any meeting thereof.  Actions may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the committee at any meeting thereof by the affirmative vote of a majority of the appointed members.  The seat of any member who fails to maintain the requirements established in paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be deemed vacant.  A vacancy in the membership of the committee shall not impair the right of a quorum to exercise all rights and perform all duties of the committee.  Any vacancy in the membership of the committee shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment and for the remainder of the unexpired term.

     (5)   The committee shall elect from among its members a chairperson and vice chairperson.  The chairperson shall preside over meetings of the committee.  In the absence of the chairperson, the vice chairperson shall preside over meetings of the committee.  The chairperson shall have the responsibility of scheduling and convening all meetings of the committee.  The committee shall designate an individual to serve as secretary to the committee who need not be a member of the committee.

     c.     A person serving as a member of the South Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee shall not be eligible to simultaneously serve as a member of the North Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee.  A person serving as a member of the North Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee shall not be eligible to simultaneously serve as a member of the South Jersey Passenger Advisory Committee.

     d.    One public member from the corporation's board of directors shall serve as a liaison to each advisory committee.

(cf: P.L.2018, c.162, s.3)

 

     4.    Section 7 of P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-5.25) is amended to read as follows:

     7.    a.  [The corporation, at] Upon the written request of the chairperson of any standing legislative committee, as approved by the Speaker of the General Assembly or the President of the Senate, as appropriate, a board member, officer, or employee of the corporation shall be required to appear before that committee, at a date, time, and location determined by the chairperson of the committee, to present testimony and [provide] produce books, papers, documents, or other objects on any topic or subject requested by the committee and to respond to any questions by members of the committee.

     b.    [Unless otherwise agreed to by the chairperson of the committee, the corporation shall, at a minimum, be represented by the chairperson of the board of directors, the executive director, and the chief financial officer to present testimony, provide documents, or respond to questions at any appearance required pursuant to this section] If a board member, officer, or employee of the corporation fails to appear, present testimony, or produce books, papers, documents, or other objects as requested by the committee, the chairperson of the committee may apply ex parte to the Superior Court to compel such person to testify or to produce books, papers, documents, or other objects in accordance with the chairperson's request, the application to be made by motion supported by affidavit.  The court may order the person to appear before the committee and proceed as may be directed in the order

     c.     Failure of a person to obey a request of a committee chairperson pursuant to this section, and failure to testify, to answer a proper question, or to produce books, papers, documents, or other objects, shall be punishable by the court in the same manner as like failure is punishable in an action pending in the court.  The matter shall be brought before the court by motion supported by affidavit stating the circumstances.  Upon the motion, the court may issue an order to show cause, returnable in not less than two or more than 10 days, requiring the person to show cause before the court why punishment should not be ordered; or the court may issue an attachment.  If the court determines that the failure above mentioned was without justification, it may punish as for a contempt of court.

(cf: P.L.2018, c.162, s.7)

 

     5.    (New section)  a.  Before adopting and implementing its annual capital program, the corporation shall hold at least two public hearings on the contents of the capital program.  At least one of the two hearings shall take place on a State working day.  One hearing shall take place for at least two hours between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and the other hearing shall take place for at least two hours between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.  Each public hearing required pursuant to this subsection shall be attended by at least two members of the corporation's board of directors.  Proper notice of the hearing shall be given by the corporation at least 15 days prior to the hearing.  In addition to the public hearing, the corporation shall post, in prominent places on the corporation's website and railroad cars and buses, a postal mailing address and electronic mailing address where members of the public may provide written comments to the corporation regarding the capital program.  The corporation shall prepare and publish a written response concerning any issue or concern raised by a member of the public at any public hearing or in any written comment provided pursuant to this subsection.

     b.    The corporation shall hold at least two public hearings per year on the corporation's strategic plan, capital program priorities, and vision for the future of the corporation.  At least one of the two hearings shall take place on a State working day.  One hearing shall take place for at least two hours between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., and the other hearing shall take place for at least two hours between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.  The second hearing shall not be held within 30 days of the first meeting.  Each public hearing required pursuant to this subsection shall be attended by at least two members of the corporation's board of directors.  Proper notice of the hearing shall be given by the corporation at least 15 days prior to the hearing.  In addition to the public hearing, the corporation shall post, in prominent places on the corporation's website and railroad cars and buses, a postal mailing address and electronic mailing address where members of the public may provide written comments to the corporation regarding the corporation's strategic plan, capital program priorities, and vision for the future of the corporation.  The corporation shall prepare and publish a written response concerning any issue or concern raised by a member of the public at any public hearing or in any written comment provided pursuant to this subsection.

     c.     In any circumstance where board action is required concerning the subject matter of a public hearing, the board shall not take final action concerning the subject matter until at least seven days following the conclusion of the last public hearing.

     d.    The corporation may hold a public hearing that simultaneously satisfies the requirements of one of the public hearings required pursuant to subsection a. of this section, subsection b. of this section, paragraph (1) of subsection d. of section 8 of P.L.1979, c.150, (C.27:25-8); and paragraph (2) of subsection d. of section 8 of P.L.1979, c.150 (C.27:25-8), or a combination thereof, provided that the hearing meets all of the statutory requirements for the respective hearing if held on its own and that members of the public are afforded at least three minutes to speak for each public hearing requirement being satisfied.

 

     6.    (New section)  a.  There is hereby established in the Department of Transportation the Office of Customer Advocate to be under the supervision of the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate.  For the purposes of complying with the provisions of Article V, Section IV, paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, the Office of Customer Advocate is hereby allocated to the Department of Transportation but, notwithstanding this allocation, the office shall be independent of any supervision or control by the department, provided, however, that the director of the office shall be supervised by the New Jersey Transit Corporation board of directors.

     b.    The Director of the Office of Customer Advocate shall be appointed by the New Jersey Transit Corporation board of directors and shall report directly to the board.  Except for supervision by the board of directors, the director of the office shall not be subject to any supervision or control by the executive director of the corporation or any other staff of the corporation.  For purposes of office work space, the director of the office and any subordinate staff shall be housed with the corporation's Auditor General and any other internal audit staff.

     c.     When exceptional circumstances arise, the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate, with the approval of the State Treasurer, may on a temporary basis retain such expert assistants as are necessary to protect the public interest, pursuant to a reasonable fee schedule established in advance by the State Treasurer.  For the purposes of this subsection, "exceptional circumstances" includes but is not limited to fare increases, substantial curtailments of service, significant expansions of service, and major operating or capital expenditures.

     d.    The purposes of the Office of Customer Advocate shall be to:

     (1)  provide information and independent analysis to the board of directors on the impact that board and corporation actions are having, or are expected to have, on the corporation's customers;

     (2)  provide genuine customer input and feedback to the board of directors, including relaying the needs and concerns of customers to the board of directors; and

     (3)  represent the best interest of the corporation's customers as determined by the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate.

     e.     The Office of Customer Advocate shall have the authority to conduct investigations, initiate studies, conduct research, present comments and testimony before the board of directors, legislative committees, and other governmental bodies, and prepare and issue reports. The Office of Customer Advocate shall arrange for meetings with New Jersey Transit Corporation passengers, which shall occur at least on a monthly basis, for the purpose of: relaying the concerns and needs of passengers to the board of directors and, when the director of the office deems it appropriate, to the executive management team of the corporation; and providing information to passengers on major board or corporation actions of which the director has knowledge.  In addition to monthly meetings, the director of the office may undertake any other action that the director deems to be in furtherance of the purposes of the Office of Customer Advocate.  The Office of Customer Advocate shall also have the authority to represent the public interest as follows:

     (1)   for any proposed fare increase, the corporation, upon publication of a proposal to increase fares, shall make available immediately to the Office of Customer Advocate all information and documents concerning the proposal so that the office may review those documents and prepare an analysis of the proposed fare increase, to be reported to the board of directors, including an independent determination of the need for such an increase and the anticipated impact of the increase on customers;

     (2)   for any proposed substantial curtailment of service, the corporation, upon publication of a proposal to substantially curtail service, shall make available immediately to the Office of Customer Advocate all information and documents concerning the proposal so that the office may review those documents and prepare an analysis of the proposed substantial curtailment of service, to be reported to the board of directors, including an independent determination of the need for such a curtailment and the anticipated impact of the curtailment on customers;

     (3)   for any proposed expansion of service, whether operational or capital in nature, the corporation, upon publication of a proposal to expand service, shall make available immediately to the Office of Customer Advocate all information and documents concerning the proposal so that the office may review those documents and prepare an analysis of the proposed expansion of service, to be reported to the board of directors; and

     (4)   for any other action or omission of the corporation that the Office of Customer Advocate determines has a significant impact on the corporation's customers, the corporation shall make available to the Office of Customer Advocate, immediately upon request, all information and documents concerning the action or omission so that the office may review those documents and prepare an analysis to be reported to the board of directors.

     f.     Funds for the expenses of the Office of Customer Advocate, and for the office's budget, shall be provided by the State Treasurer, as appropriated by the Legislature, and shall be independent of funds for the New Jersey Transit Corporation.

     g.    On or before March 31 of each year, the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate shall prepare a report on the activities of the office for the previous calendar year, including any reports provided to the corporation's board of directors.  The report may include any additional information that the Director of the Office of Customer Advocate determines to be appropriate.  The director shall submit the report to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature.

 

     7.    Section 22 of P.L.1984, c.73 (C.27:1B-22) is amended to read as follows:

     22.  The commissioner shall prepare and submit the following reports to the Governor, the Legislature, and the Transportation Policy Review Board, established pursuant to section 6 of P.L.2006, c.3 (C.27:1B-22.2) under the terms set forth below: a Transportation Master Plan, a Statewide Capital Investment Strategy, an Annual Transportation Capital Program, a Transportation Trust Fund Authority Financial Plan, and a Five-Year Capital Plan.

     a.     To the end that the transportation system of the State shall be planned in an orderly and efficient manner and that the Legislature shall be advised of the nature and extent of public highways, public transportation projects and other transportation projects contemplated to be financed under this act, the department shall submit a master plan, as provided in subsection (a) of section 5 of P.L.1966, c.301 (C.27:1A-5).  Notwithstanding the provisions of that act, the plan shall be for a period of five years and shall be submitted to the Commission on Capital Budgeting and Planning, the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and the Chairman of the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee, or their successors, and the Legislative Budget and Finance Officer, and the metropolitan planning organizations, on or before March 1, 2001, and at five-year intervals thereafter.  The master plan shall set the direction for the department's overall Capital Investment Strategy and subsequent annual Transportation Capital Programs submitted to the Legislature for approval pursuant to this section.  This master plan shall, to the extent practicable, conform to all federal requirements for Statewide transportation planning.

     b.    The Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the New Jersey Transit Corporation, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and the South Jersey Transportation Authority, shall prepare a "Statewide Capital Investment Strategy" for at least a five-year period which shall contain, at a minimum, a statement of the goals of the department, the corporation, and the toll road authorities in major selected policy areas and the means by which the goals are to be attained during that period, using quantitative measures where appropriate. The Statewide Capital Investment Strategy may be updated and submitted no later than March 1 of each year.  The Statewide Capital Investment Strategy shall provide for a multi-modal, intermodal, seamless, technologically advanced, and secure transportation system.  It shall recommend investment for major program categories, set overall goals for investment in the State's infrastructure, and develop program targets and performance measures.  It may rely on infrastructure management systems as developed by the department to assess bridge conditions, pavement conditions, bridge, traffic and pedestrian safety, traffic congestion and public transit facilities. With respect to pavement conditions, the department shall set as a priority the utilization of efficient cost-effective materials and treatments as stated in section 9 of P.L.2000, c.73 (C.27:1B-21.22). In the event that there exist appropriate circumstances for the use of micro-surfacing and cold-in-place recycling, the department shall establish as a special priority the use of these materials and surface treatments.  The goals of the Capital Investment Strategy shall include, but not be limited to, reduction of vehicular and pedestrian accidents, reduction in the backlog of projects, including one-half of the structurally deficient bridge repair projects and pavement deficiencies, and an increase in lane miles of bicycle paths, with a goal of constructing an additional 1,000 lane miles of bicycle paths in five years to reduce traffic congestion and for recreational uses. The construction of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths and facilities shall be subject to no stricter environmental requirements than are provided pursuant to federal law and regulations for such lanes, paths and facilities, notwithstanding the provisions to the contrary of State law and regulations, including State Executive Order No. 215 of 1989.  With respect to the New Jersey Transit Corporation, the Statewide Capital Investment Strategy shall deal with the corporation's overall goal to keep the public transportation system in a state of good repair and, more specifically, in the area of bus transportation, present a strategy and a preliminary timetable for the replacement of the current diesel bus fleet with a fleet of buses which have reduced emission of air pollutants.  The corporation shall consider the feasibility of buses with improved pollution controls and that reduce particulate emissions and buses powered by fuel other than conventional diesel fuel, such as compressed natural gas vehicles, hybrid vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, biodiesel vehicles, vehicles operated on ultra low sulfur fuel, and vehicles operated on any other bus fuel approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The corporation may consider as part of its strategy, cooperative efforts with bus manufacturers, and the solicitation of federal support, in developing a "clean bus" with air pollution controls superior to currently available technology.  For the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2007 and each fiscal year thereafter, all buses purchased by the New Jersey Transit Corporation shall be buses with improved pollution controls and that reduce particulate emissions, or buses powered by fuel other than conventional diesel fuel, such as compressed natural gas vehicles, hybrid vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, biodiesel vehicles, vehicles operated on ultra low sulfur fuel, or vehicles operated on any other bus fuel approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.  In the event that the corporation is not able to meet the bus purchase requirements set forth in this section with respect to any fiscal year, prior to the commencement of the fiscal year, the board of the corporation shall, by resolution, submit a report to the Legislature detailing its inability to meet the requirements and the reasons therefor and shall submit the report to the Senate and General Assembly when both houses are in session, including therein a request to be exempted from the bus purchase requirements of this section with regard to the fiscal year in question.  The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly shall cause the date of submission to be entered upon the Senate Journal and the Minutes of the General Assembly.  If a joint resolution approving the exemption is passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor prior to the commencement of the fiscal year in question, the corporation shall be exempt from the requirements for that fiscal year.

     In the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2007 and in each fiscal year thereafter, in the year prior to the year in which final engineering is anticipated to start on any project which extends the reach of the New Jersey Transit rail or light rail system, the New Jersey Transit Corporation shall be required to identify and include in the annual Statewide Capital Investment Strategy the required State financial assistance to support operation of the incremental service for the first three years and the projected fare box recovery ratio at the commencement of the fourth year of operation of each project.

     The Statewide Capital Investment Strategy shall also detail the planned investment of capital funds for public transportation projects of companies other than the New Jersey Transit Corporation engaged in the business of providing motor bus transportation.  The Statewide Capital Investment Strategy shall demonstrate that such investment adequately addresses the finding in section 2 of P.L.1979, c.150 (C.27:25-2) that in the provision of public transportation services it is desirable to encourage to the maximum extent feasible the participation of private enterprise.

     c.     On or before March 1 of each year, the commissioner shall submit a report of [general project categories and] proposed capital projects [thereunder] to be financed in the ensuing fiscal year, including therewith a description of the projects, the county or counties and municipality or municipalities within which they are to be located, a distinction between State and local projects, an identification number for each project that can be used to cross reference any project in the State's federal Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, the project phase of work, investment category, project sponsor, governmental entity with jurisdiction over the project and associated infrastructure, the amount estimated to be expended on each project in the year of appropriation, and an estimate of the total project cost.  Proposed appropriations shall be included in the report as a unique project if the spending includes one or more contracts for related work of more than $100,000 at a single site, or for a single contract of at least $100,000 which includes one type of work at multiple locations that is not related to any other capital work required at those locations.  The report shall not group or bundle projects unless the act of grouping or bundling complies with the single site requirement or single contract requirement of this section.  Any group or bundle of projects that is included in the report shall provide specific information concerning the project details, including location, of each component project within the group or bundle.  The reporting of projects should convey a general sense of the scope and scale of work that is intended to be completed over the course of the fiscal year.

     This report shall be known as the "Annual Transportation Capital Program" for the upcoming fiscal year.  It shall include proposed projects of both the Department of Transportation and the New Jersey Transit Corporation.  The program shall be consistent with, and reflective of, the goals and priorities of the Capital Investment Strategy and the program shall include an explanation which demonstrates how it is consistent with, and reflective of, the goals and priorities.  The program shall be transmitted to the Legislature in a document format that lists the projects as well as a spreadsheet format that includes sortable fields for each of the data points required to be included for each project in the program.

     d.    On or before March 1 of each year, the commissioner shall also submit a "Transportation Trust Fund Authority Financial Plan" designed to implement the financing of the proposed projects.  The financial plan shall contain an enumeration of the bonds, notes or other obligations of the authority which the authority intends to issue, including the amounts thereof and the conditions therefor. The financial plan shall set forth a complete operating and financial statement covering the authority's proposed operations during the ensuing fiscal year, including amounts of income from all sources, including but not limited to the proceeds of bonds, notes or other obligations to be issued, as well as interest earned.  In addition, the plan shall contain proposed amounts to be appropriated and expended, as well as amounts for which the department anticipates to obligate during the ensuing fiscal year for any future expenditures.

     e.     The Statewide Capital Investment Strategy, the Annual Transportation Capital Program, and the Transportation Trust Fund Authority Financial Plan shall be submitted to the Senate and General Assembly.  Within 45 days of the receipt thereof, the Senate or the General Assembly may object in writing to the commissioner in regard to any project or projects in the Annual Transportation Capital Program it disapproves or which it is of the opinion should be modified or added to or any additional or alternative projects considered or in regard to any element of the financial plan.  The commissioner shall consider the objections and recommendations and resubmit the report within 10 days, containing therein any modifications based upon the commissioner's consideration of the objections or recommendations.

     f.     In order that the Legislature shall be advised of the nature and extent of public highways, public transportation projects, and other transportation projects contemplated to be financed under this act, the commissioner shall submit annually, together with the Annual Transportation Capital Program, a Five-Year Capital Plan, which shall set forth projects and programs anticipated to be funded over the five-year period. The Five-Year Capital Plan shall, to the extent practicable, conform to all federal requirements for Statewide transportation capital programming.

(cf: P.L.2016, c.56, s.6)

 

     8.    Section 16 of P.L.2018, c.162 (C.27:25-5.27) is repealed.

 

     9.    This act shall take effect immediately.

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