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NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett describes plans for NJ TRansit’s future.

BY JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

As the state enters phase two of its reopening, swimming pools and camps will reopen, and NJ Transit is preparing for more riders. 

Tomorrow, Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to release the protocols for municipal and private club pools when they reopen on June 22.

Campers and camps staffers will be screened prior to entering camp facilities, and entering in the morning and leaving at night at night should be at staggered times, said Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli. Campers and staff will have to wear face masks when the social distancing of six-feet can not be maintained, and no commercial dining, off-site trips or contact sports will be allowed. 

As of today, buses are on full schedule, whereas trains are still running on an enhanced holiday schedule, said NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett.

To date, 542 transit workers have tested positive, including Corbett himself, and 13 have been lost to the virus. At the virus’ peak, 1,000 employees were in quarantine after being exposed. The agency issued protocols to increase safety measures, such as daily cleanings of vehicles and facilities, cutting capacity in half, ordering masks to be worn by both riders and employees, a no-cash system and rear-entry-only for buses. Ridership has dropped to about 10 percent of normal levels. 

But as both New Jersey and New York begin to open back up, the agency is planning for an increase in ridership and the safety measures will remain in effect “until there is a vaccine,” said Corbett.

Riders will continue to have to wear masks, keep six feet apart when lining up and entering and disembarking, and capacity will remain at half. Train schedule increases will depend on ridership, said Corbett. 

He urged employers to allow those who can work from home to continue, and vulnerable populations to avoid public transportation. Work schedules should be staggered to avoid crowded buses and trains at peak hours, he said. 

Corbett also unveiled a 10-year strategic plan entitled “NJT2030: A 10-Year Strategic Plan.” Highlights include:

    • Improving on-time-performance
    • Increasing service on the most congested bus routes
    • Rail and bus fleet replacement, including the advancement of a net-zero emissions bus program
    • Upgrading information technology systems
    • Station rehabilitations
    • Improving accessibility to the system

In addition, NJ Transit announced a rolling, unconstrained five-year capital plan.

TODAY’S NUMBERS

On Monday, June 8, New Jersey officials reported 356 new cases, up from the 271 reported yesterday. Forty new deaths related to the virus were reported today, down from the 70 reported on Sunday. The state totals are now 164,497 in positive cases and 12,214 deaths, of which 5,542 were residents of long-term care facilities. 

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, hospitalizations continued to drop to 1,740, down from the 1,769 on Saturday. Of those hospitalized, 498 were in intensive care and 361 patients were on ventilators. Those numbers showed a decline from Saturday, when 503 were in critical care and 375 were on ventilators. The state reported that 94 patients entered the hospital last night, while 112 were discharged. 

On Monday, Persichilli said two more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children were reported, bringing the total to 39. All cases have been linked to COVID-19. No deaths have been reported from the condition.

Montclair Health Department officials reported today that the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases increased from 426 to 428; the number of individuals who did not survive the illness remains at 50.

Today, Essex County officials reported only one new case, down from the two reported yesterday, now totalling 18,059. No new deaths were reported and the total remains at 1,706.

After thousands of residents attended more than 130 protests this weekend throughout New Jersey, the governor asked everyone to go out and get tested.

Residents of Montclair can be tested in a drive-up site at the George Inness Annex parking lot on North Fullerton Avenue, beginning Wednesday, June 10, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The new site is a partnership with the Smith center for Infectious Diseases and Urban Health.

Appointments are required by calling the township at 862-444-1189 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. No insurance is necessary.

The positivity rate of tests taken on June 4 was down to 3.6 percent. And whereas the average number of people infected by one person with COVID-19 was estimated at 5.31 on March 21, that number is now at 0.70 or below one person, state officials said.