Northern New Jersey/Hudson-Bergen MOS-2

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Hudson-Bergen Waterfront Light Rail Transit System
Minimum Operable Segment-2 (MOS-2)
(A New Jersey Urban Core Project) Hudson-Bergen MOS-2

Northern New Jersey (Final Design)

(November 1999)

(Hudson-Bergen Waterfront LRT System Map)

Description

The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) is proposing to construct a second Minimum Operable Segment (MOS-2) for the Hudson-Bergen Waterfront Light Rail Transit System (HBLRTS). The proposed MOS-2 would run 5.1 miles north from Hoboken Terminal to the Tonnelle Avenue Park-and-Ride lot in North Bergen and 1.0 mile south from 34th Street to 22nd Street in Bayonne. The total capital cost of MOS-2 is estimated at $1,112.8 million (escalated dollars), including borrowing costs. MOS-2, like the initial Minimum Operable Segment (MOS-1) now nearing completion, would be a design/build/operate/maintain project. With the completion of the second phase of the Hudson-Bergen LRT, NJ Transit expects the system to become self-sufficient and not require any additional operating subsidy. MOS-2 is anticipated to carry 34,900 average weekday boardings in 2010.

The full Hudson-Bergen LRT, which includes a 4.7 mile long MOS-3, is a $2.0 billion (escalated dollars), 20.1-mile, 30 station at-grade LRT line from the Vince Lombardi Park-and-Ride lot in Bergen County to West Fifth Street in Bayonne in Hudson County. It is projected to serve 94,500 average weekday boardings in 2010. When completed, the project will pass through Port Imperial in Weehauken, Hoboken and Jersey City. The outer ends will provide 8,800 park-and-ride spaces. The core of the system will serve the high-density commercial and residential centers in Jersey City and Hoboken and connect to ferries, PATH and NJ Transit commuter rail lines.

Hudson-Bergen Waterfront Summary Description

Proposed Project Light Rail Transit line (MOS-2)
6.1 miles, 7 stations
Total Capital Cost ($YOE) $1,112.8 million
Section 5309 New Starts Share ($YOE) $721.6 million
Annual Operating Cost ($YOE) $39.9 million
Ridership Forecast (2010) 34,900 average weekday boardings
24,100 daily new riders
FY 2001 Financial Rating: Medium
FY 2001 Project Justification Rating: Medium
FY 2001 Overall Project Rating: Recommended

The Recommended rating is based on the strong transit supportive land use along the MOS-2 alignment and the adequacy of the project’s capital and operating plans. The overall project rating applies to this Annual New Starts Report and reflects conditions as of November 1999. Project evaluation is an ongoing process. As New Starts projects proceed through development, the estimates of costs, benefits, and impacts are refined. The FTA ratings and recommendations will be updated annually to reflect new information, changing conditions and refined financing plans.

Status

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the full Hudson-Bergen Waterfront LRT was issued in August 1996. FTA issued a Record of Decision in October 1996. Later the same month, FTA signed a Full Funding Grant Agreement committing $604.09 million of Section 5309 New Starts funds to support the 9.32-mile MOS-1. The Hudson-Bergen LRT project is one of eight elements eligible for funding as part of the New Jersey Urban Core Project. Through FY 2000, Congress has appropriated $326.57 million in Section 5309 New Starts funds to MOS-1 of the Hudson-Bergen LRT.

In January 1997, the Governor of New Jersey, in conjunction with the Mayor and City Council of Hoboken, agreed to alter the alignment of the Hudson-Bergen LRT in Hoboken to the west side of the city. An Environmental Assessment (EA) was completed on the re-alignment and was submitted to FTA in August 1998. FTA issued a Finding of No Significant Impact on the EA for the revised Hoboken Alignment in June 1999.

Evaluation

Under 3031(c) of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, the Hudson-Bergen LRT, as part of the New Jersey Urban Core Project, was exempted from evaluation against the New Starts criteria. This exemption has been continued under TEA-21. Although exempted, NJ Transit provided data on MOS-2 for the FY 2000 and the FY 2001 New Starts Reports. N/A indicates that information is not available for specific criteria at this time.

FTA has evaluated this project as being in final design.

Justification

The Medium project justification rating reflects the adequate anticipated travel time savings benefits and the transit-supportive land use within the project corridor.

Mobility Improvements

Rating: Medium

NJ Transit estimates 34,900 average weekday boardings, including 24,100 new riders, will use the MOS-2 in 2010. NJ Transit estimates the following travel time savings for the HBLRTS (MOS-2):

Mobility Improvements New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Annual Travel Time Savings (Hours) 2.2 million hours N/A

Based on 1990 census data, there are an estimated 10,730 low-income households within a ½ mile radius of the alignment for HBLRTS MOS-1 and MOS-2. This represents 16 percent of the total households within a ½ mile radius of the proposed stations.

Environmental Benefits

Rating: Medium

Northern New Jersey is a "severe" nonattainment area for ozone and a "moderate" nonattainment area for carbon monoxide. NJ Transit estimates that in the year 2010, implementation of the HBLRTS (MOS-2) would result in the following emission reductions:

Criteria Pollutant New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Carbon Monoxide (CO) decrease of 639 annual tons N/A
Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) decrease of 34 annual tons N/A
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) decrease of 62 annual tons N/A
Particulate Matter (PM10) decrease of 34 annual tons N/A
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) decrease of 4,078 annual tons N/A

NJ Transit estimates that implementation of HBLRTS (MOS-2) would result in the following annual reductions in regional energy consumption (measured in British Thermal Units – BTUs):

Annual Energy Savings New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
BTU (millions) decrease of 40,962 million annual BTU N/A

Operating Efficiencies

Rating: Medium

NJ Transit projects a reduction in systemwide operating cost per passenger mile for HBLRTS (MOS-2) compared to the No-Build alternative.

Operating Efficiencies No-Build TSM New Start
System Operating Cost per Passenger Mile (2010) $0.29 N/A $0.27

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Cost Effectiveness

Rating: Low

NJ Transit projects the following cost effectiveness index for the HBLRTS MOS-2 project:

Cost Effectiveness New Start vs. No-Build New Start vs. TSM
Incremental Cost per Incremental Passenger $22.10 N/A

Values reflect 2010 ridership forecast and 1999 dollars.

Transit-Supportive Existing Land Use and Future Patterns

Rating: Medium-High

The Medium-High land use rating reflects the existing high densities of the HBLRTS (MOS-2) corridor, along with the comprehensive planning efforts being undertaken by both the State and the individual municipalities that are anticipated to benefit from the proposed project. The rating also acknowledges the relatively low densities that characterize the northern portion of the alignment.

Existing Conditions: The proposed HBLRTS (MOS-2) project extends from the downtown Jersey City area north to the Tonnelle Avenue park-and-ride lot in North Bergen, also serving parts of Hoboken, Weehauken, Union City, and West New York. The area is densely developed, largely residential in nature, and consists of two-plus family residences, including a significant concentration of apartment complexes and some high-rise apartments. In the year 2010, total residential population in the MOS-2 service area is forecast to reach 40,000. MOS-2 serves some of the area’s highest residential densities in Hudson County, with many areas such as Union City/West New York at over 30 units per gross acre. Areas of Hoboken and Jersey City are also at a density of 11-30 housing units per gross acre. The downtown Jersey City area contains the largest concentration of office development in Hudson County (26,000 jobs in 1990 or about 17 percent of the 150,000 jobs served by MOS-2). Downtown Jersey City is also forecast to account for the majority of office growth in the County by 2010. In addition, in the year 2020, downtown Jersey City will have 35 percent of the 200,000 jobs in the six towns along the MOS-2 alignment. Through PATH and ferry connections, MOS-2 is anticipated to also serve the Manhattan central business district (2 million jobs). The Manhattan CBD is expected to account for 40-50 percent of the ridership on MOS-2.

Other towns along the MOS-2 alignment currently have significantly less employment. Specifically, along the northern portion of the alignment (West New York and North Bergen), the project appears to serve areas of relatively low employment density (0-4 jobs/acre).

In terms of parking, Jersey City, unlike suburban locations, does not specify a particular amount of parking per 1,000 feet of development. Instead, a low minimum of 0.9 spaces of 1,000 gross floor area of office space is the only requirement. This minimum level of parking supports approximately 30 percent auto share. In Union City, Hoboken, North Bergen and West New York, residential parking is at a premium, with much parking occurring on-street.

Future Plans and Policies: NJ Transit has developed two sets of design guidelines for transit-oriented development. The first is a design manual, Planning for Transit-Friendly Land Use: A Handbook for New Jersey Communities. The manual includes implementation tools for station area planning aimed at establishing transit-supportive land use objectives and development principles. The second set of guidelines, contained within the Urban Design Guidelines Handbook, was developed as part of the design of the HBLRTS. In addition, the Hudson County Strategic Revitalization Plan indicates several initiatives to promote pedestrian-friendly development. These include the Hudson Waterfront Walkway, transit-friendly design standards, and the Streetscape Improvement Program funded by the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation. The plan also includes policies for providing tax incentives for high-density development. Jersey City and several other municipalities have used the power of redevelopment to declare areas blighted. These areas are then awarded 20-year tax abatements for new development. This has been done to encourage the viablity of new development, most of which has been high density. In addition, parts of Jersey City, Union City, West New York and North Bergen have been designated Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZ). Their UEZ designation allows retail and certain office equipment purchases to be subject to only a three percent sales tax instead of the normal six percent. The revenues from sales taxes in these zones can be used for investment in improvements, such as streetscapes, sidewalks, marketing, etc.

Local Financial Commitment

Proposed Non-Section 5309 Share of Total Project Costs: 35%

The financial strategy for the second Minimum Operable Segment of the proposed Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit System includes $721.6 million (65 percent) in Section 5309 New Starts funding, $273.8 million (24 percent) in Section 5307 formula funds, $117.4 million (11 percent) in NJ Transportation Trust Fund annual allocations.

Stability and Reliability of Capital Financing Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects the sound financial condition of NJ Transit and the agency’s strong, permanent source of capital funding.

Agency Capital Financial Condition: NJT is in sound financial condition with the New Jerset Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) providing a stable and reliable source of capital funding. Over the past eleven years, 43 percent of the agency’s capital funding has come from the TTF. An average annual growth rate of three percent in Federal formula funds and growth in TTF funds of less than one percent annually, is currently anticipated.

Capital Cost Estimates and Contingencies: The 20-year cash flow projections submitted by NJ Transit incorporate moderate rates of growth in capital funding. The agency did not provide documentation to substantiate the reasonability of capital costs estimates, escalation rates or contingency factors related to HBLRTS (MOS-2) to FTA for evaluation.

Existing and Committed Funding: $41.9 million in FY 1999 Section 5307 formula and NJ TTF funds has been appropriated by the State legislature to HBLRTS (MOS-2), with another $201.2 million programmed for the project in NJTransit’s FY 2000 - FY 2004 capital plan. The use of Section 5307 funds as non-Federal share is based on a provision of ISTEA (Section 1044 of Title 23 and continued under TEA-21) that allows states to count toll revenues collected and used on roadway facilities as a component of non-Federal matching funds. NJ Transit will program the remainder of non-New Starts funding in its next capital plan.

New and Proposed Sources: No new funding sources are proposed for implementation of the HBLRTS (MOS-2).

Stability and Reliability of Operating Finance Plan

Rating: Medium

The Medium rating reflects NJ Transit’s healthy operating condition. The rating also acknowledges the absence of information specific to the operation of the proposed project, including an operating contingency plan.

Agency Operating Condition: The operating condition of NJ Transit is considered strong. The agency is required by State law to maintain a balanced budget. In FY 1999, the agency’s operations generated a surplus of $20.7 million in revenues from fares, State Operating Assistance and other sources.

Operating Cost Estimates and Contingencies: Annual operating costs are estimated at

$39.9 million (escalated dollars), which would represent less than 3 percent of NJTransit’s total systemwide operating budget. NJTransit generates over 50 percent of systemwide operating revenues from the farebox. The agency did not provide operating cost contingencies specific to the HBLRTS MOS-2 project.

Existing and Committed Funding: The 20-year cash flow analysis incorporates rates of growth in farebox revenues (average 3.5 percent) that slightly exceeds current trends. NJ Transit has not experienced a fare increase over the last nine years. Combined revenues from the other two principal sources of funding for the agency’s operations – State Operating Assistance and Reimbursements – are projected to rise at just over 3 percent per year, slightly less than the rate of increase since 1990. These sources are existing and are considered adequate to operate the proposed HBLRTS MOS-2 project.

New and Proposed Sources: No new operating revenue funding sources are proposed for the project.

Locally Proposed Financing Plan

(Reported in $YOE)

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
($million)
Appropriations to Date
Federal:
Section 5309 New Starts $721.6 No appropriations to date for HBLRTS (MOS-2).
Section 5307 Formula Funds $273.8

 

State and Local:
Transportation Trust Fund $117.4

 

Other $221.6 To be identified before publication of the Annual Report of New Starts.
Total: $1,112.8

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions. Any errors are due to rounding.

Hudson-Bergen Waterfront LRT System Map. The project is a second Minimum Operable Segment (MOS-2) for the Hudson-Bergen Waterfront Light Rail Transit System (HBLRTS). The proposed MOS-2 would run 5.1 miles north from Hoboken Terminal to the Tonnelle Avenue Park-and-Ride lot in North Bergen and 1.0 mile south from 34th Street to 22nd Street in Bayonne.