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SJTA to use $16 million of reserves in response to COVID revenue losses

SJTA to use $16 million of reserves in response to COVID revenue losses


Atlantic City Expressway eastbound in Pleasantville SJTA planned projects Edward Lea Staff Photographer / Press of Atlantic City

The South Jersey Transportation Authority voted Wednesday morning to use $16 million in reserve funds toward its 2020 operating budget and debt service, because of revenue reductions related to COVID-19.

Year-to-date toll revenue on the Atlantic City Expressway is down 23.8% from January to July of 2019, to $36.8 million, said Executive Director Stephen Dougherty in his report.

Even July revenue, when many travel restrictions had been lifted, was down 11.6% from last July, Dougherty said.

In May, the board accepted a $7.9 million federal CARES Act grant designed to help the authority weather the COVID-19 downturn.

The vote to amend the 2020 operating budget was unanimous.

It was followed by approval of amending the 2020 capital budget to use $19 million in funds from a coming issuance of bonds, for projects related to the authority’s new $500 million long-term capital plan.

The plan, funded with 37% toll increases due to start Sept. 13. includes $200 million for planning for a light rail line from Glassboro to Camden, widening of the expressway, a new connection to Atlantic City International Airport, moving to an all-electronic collection system and other projects.

Expressway tolls have raised more than $80 million a year in recent years and had not increased since 2008.

Under the SJTA plan, the Egg Harbor plaza toll would increase from $3 to $4.25 each way, and 75-cent tolls at Pleasantville and elsewhere would increase to $1.25.

Parking revenue at the Atlantic City International Airport and the New York Avenue parking garage in Atlantic City is down 48.5% year-to-date, and airport passenger numbers are down 53% from the same period last year, he said.

The SJTA’s next meeting will be 9 a.m. Sept. 16 via teleconference.

Contact: 609-272-7219

Twitter @MichelleBPost

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Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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