NJ TRANSIT is the nation's third largest provider of bus, rail and light rail transit. Its system includes 161 rail stations, 28 light-rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops. Every one of these transit facilities, from simple bus stops to major train stations, is a natural focal point for the community, a gravity point for activity that can help to revitalize adjacent neighborhoods, improve the image of the transit agency and increase ridership. PPS and NJ TRANSIT have worked together over many years to ensure that New Jersey's bus stops and train stations live up to their potential as great public spaces.
In 2005, NJ TRANSIT hired PPS to train NJ TRANSIT staff to better identify deficiencies in the agency's train stations, take the appropriate remedial actions, and turn the stations into great assets both for the transit agency and the communities they serve.
Fifty-five NJ TRANSIT staff from many departments, including Government and Community Relations, Real Estate, Capital Planning, Customer Service and Rail Operations, participated in one of PPS' three day-long trainings. After an initial PowerPoint presentation which identified the basic principles of successful public spaces and successful transit stations in particular, participants visited the New Brunswick train station and used Placemaking principles to evaluate how well the station functioned. Through this case-study exercise and the discussion that followed, training participants realized that NJ TRANSIT provided no systematic way to fund minor station improvements outside of the station-wide, or system-wide major rehabilitation schedule.
After the training, the Customer Resources Department of NJ TRANSIT created a new Station Management Team, with representatives from several of the agency's departments, to prioritize the funding of minor station improvement projects across the system.
Transit is a component, but by no means the extent, of your experience at a station that is a place. Memorable and enjoyable stations and stops that create value for neighborhoods are perfectly attainable. In fact, a transit station or stop can serve much more than a transportation function; it can be a setting for community interaction, a place that fosters a diversity of activities.