The state has started the process of privatizing 81 parking lots adjacent to NJ Transit rail, light rail and bus stations by issuing a Request for Qualifications for operating and maintaining the facilities for a term of 30-50 years. The 81 lots represent more than 60 percent of all parking spaces in the system and currently produce revenues of more than $28 million.
At the moment, the parking system is managed by a combination of NJ Transit, municipalities and outsourced private companies. As a result, the system has a hodgepodge of parking rates, ranging from completely free to whatever the market will bear. NJ Transit, in its offering, says it hopes that by privatizing the stations it will rationalize the pricing structure and encourage concessionaires to invest in property enhancements and expansions as part of the agreement.
New Jersey Future, a smart growth policy group based in Trenton, issued a statement saying privatization is an idea with merit — but warned that long-term revenues might be sacrificed in a trade for a short-term budget fix. (Particularly since the concession period would be for 30 to 50 years.) The group also pointed out that concessionaires would have a high degree of influence over transit-oriented development, which could have a major impact on municipal growth initiatives.
After proposed vendors are qualified in the first step of the process, NJ Transit will then issue Request for Proposals.