Press Release

More Than 50 Mayors and Local Officials Call for Corporate Transit Fee to Fund NJ Transit

Mayors, Commuters, Labor Leaders, and Community Activists Rally Outside Newark Penn Station to Demand Funding for NJ Transit

Published on Jun 13, 2024

A diverse coalition of mayors, commuters, labor leaders, and community activists rallied this morning outside of Newark Penn Station to urge state lawmakers to tax profitable corporations to fund NJ Transit.

At the rally, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla unveiled an open letter from more than 50 mayors, city council members, and county commissioners calling on the New Jersey Senate President, Assembly Speaker, and Legislature to pass the Corporate Transit Fee to fund NJ Transit and to reinstate the full Corporate Business Tax surcharge to invest in other critical public services.

“NJ Transit is a lifeline for our communities,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla at the rally outside Newark Penn Station. “We cannot allow service cuts and fare hikes to devastate our residents. It’s time for wealthy corporations to contribute to the public services that keep our state running.”

Speakers at the rally highlighted the urgent need for stable funding for NJ Transit, which faces a looming deficit of nearly $1 billion once federal pandemic assistance expires. Without more state funding to address this deficit, equal to roughly one-third of the agency’s total budget, commuters will see drastic service cuts and fare hikes that would leave riders stranded, put more cars on the road, and harm the broader state economy.

“Without a fully funded NJ Transit, workers can’t get to their jobs or anywhere else they need to go,” said Stephenie Martinez, a transit rider and member of Hudson County Complete Streets. “Working class communities are what makes the world go round. We have to prioritize community needs over corporate greed.”

The open letter was signed by more than 50 mayors, council members, and county commissioners representing millions of residents, including: Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, Bayonne Mayor James Davis, Plainfield Mayor Adrian O. Mapp, West Orange Mayor Susan McCartney, Kearny Mayor Carol Jean Doyle, and Montclair Mayor Sean Spiller. Additionally, the Essex County and Union County Boards of County Commissioners each signed onto the letter and passed resolutions supporting the corporate transit fee proposal.

“It takes all of us to make sure that each of us have access to jobs and opportunities and transportation is a big part of that, in particular New Jersey Transit,” said Denise Wilkerson, Roselle Councilwoman-at-Large. “In Roselle, we’re a small community without a lot of industry, and residents need transit to get to their jobs. Tax the rich, not the riders!”

While local officials, transit riders, and community leaders rallied in Newark, hundreds of activists and members of the For The Many NJ and Fund NJ Transit coalitions took to the halls of the New Jersey State House to urge lawmakers to tax corporations and fully fund NJ Transit.

“From Newark to Trenton, we’re at both ends of the Northeast Corridor mobilizing for fair and sustainable transit funding,” said Eric Benson, campaign director for For the Many NJ, a broad-based coalition of labor, policy, faith, and community organizations. “We need a dedicated source of funding so NJ Transit can continue to serve the millions of New Jersey residents who rely on it every day.”

“As workers, we know that New Jersey’s transit system is vital to us, ensuring that working people have a safe and reliable way of getting to work, taking our kids to school, and going about our daily lives,” said Ken McNamara, President of CWA Local 1037, representing thousands of public and private sector workers. “We also know that as workers our ability to fully participate in the economy generates enormous profits for big corporations. We are not asking for a free ride, but we are asking for an end to a free ride for big corporations.”

​​“I won’t be able to take the bus due to the fare increases,” said Humberto, Passaic resident and longtime transit rider. “We cannot accept another increase. Corporations must pay their fair share.”

“We know that immigrants make up nearly a quarter of our state and even more of our essential workers who rely on transit,” said Erik Cruz Morales, Policy and Advocacy Manager at the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice. “We need to collect the funds from corporations that build their wealth off immigrant workers and use that to invest in immigrant services and fund New Jersey Transit.”

“Wealthy corporations benefit greatly from the infrastructure and services provided by NJ Transit. It’s only fair that they contribute their share to ensure its proper functioning,” said Derek Armstead, Mayor of Linden. “By investing in public transit, we can reduce traffic congestion, lower carbon emissions, and promote a more sustainable mode of transportation for our communities.”

“The Venn diagram of equity and mobility is a full circle. You can’t have one without the other, and that requires a robust and reliable transit system,” said Zoe Baldwin, Vice President of State Programs and New Jersey Director of the Regional Plan Association. “We ask ourselves year after year, ‘Why is our transit system bad? Why is my system failing me?’ and until now, the state’s leaders have not put forth a proposal to fix it. We need the legislature to make the Corporate Transit Fee a reality.”

“We have to fund public transit by taxing the world’s largest and most profitable corporations. This is an absolute must,” said Peter Chen, Senior Policy Analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) and emcee of the event. “It is beyond time for corporations to pay their fair share, and we need to make sure we have a sustainable transit system, not just for our present but for our future.”

Read the open letter from mayors here.

Watch a recording of the press event here.

Download photos of the press event here.

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For The Many NJ is a statewide coalition of more than 40 organizations working to expand funding for essential services and improve budget practices to meet current and future needs, especially for communities that have been historically left behind.

The Fund NJ Transit Coalition seeks to bring greater prosperity and better transportation to communities across New Jersey. We represent a convening of groups from across New Jersey’s advocacy spectrum to support legislative funding initiatives and transform NJ Transit into a modern, effective transit agency for the state’s one million and growing daily transit riders.