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[PHOTO: Head Shot of Richard DuHaime. (If you can't see this image, but can download it, follow this link.)]An Interview with Richard DuHaime

Former Chair of the North Jersey Transportation Planing Authority (NJTPA), Freeholder in Passaic County and presently a candidate for the United States Senate.

[At the time of the interview, the NJTPA was still named the North Jersey Transportation Coordinating Council. The position of NJTPA chair is a rotating one, and Mr DuHaime's term ended at their January 1996 meeting.]

Hi, Mr DuHaime. My name is Daniel Convissor and I'm writing for the Auto-Free Press.
The what press?

The Auto-Free Press.

We're putting together a news story on the Council and its revision of the bylaws. I'm wondering why y'all wanted to do that?
We are incorporating. When you incorporate, you have to have bylaws, that's all. So we are just bringing the bylaws up to date, and nothing else.

So that's incorporating as a 501(c)(3)?
It's the same one charities use. I don't know which one that is.

I understand the council and you are interested in changing the Gubernatorial veto:
I don't think that's a very important part of it, the Governor has never used the veto since its inception, we just want them to remain mute on it, it isn't that we want to change it, we just want them to remain silent.

But you would like them to still be on the council:
Of course. The governor's office has a very important role on the council.

I understand you have difficulties with the Governor or central planning agencies and also environmentalists trying to push transit over highway projects.
I don't know where the Governor comes in. We don't have difficulties with the Governor at all. The governor is a terrific person and a personal friend of mine and I have no problems with her at all. As far as environmentalists, I have no problem with environmentalists either. I do have a problem with extremists. Any type of an extremist. Because I think that they are basically socialists trying to push a, ya know, coming in under the guise of an environmentalist who is trying to change the order of, the social order of the United States. Those things I have a problem with.

Do you see the social order as automobiles should be continually accommodated for, or...
I think that we need balance. I think that we have, the rate of growth of automobiles is alarming in the state. And I can understand. Our roads are, unfortunately, inadequate for the number of automobiles that we have. We must try to encourage people to use more mass transit, but at the same time we can't forget the 91% of people that use their automobiles to get to work.

I find that we have to try to balance the environment, we have to balance the woodlands, the wetlands and the farmlands with the automobile, the small business, and we have to recognize the fact that we have to move forward in all directions at the same time. We must also get rid of the congestion hot spots in this state as much as possible, move forward on them as rapidly as possible.

How do you see, or what do you see, as the cause of the majority of people having to use their cars to travel?
Say that again, I'm sorry.

How do you see the historical generation of the major amount of people having to use cars to travel?
What do you mean by that? It's just a fact of life. That is the way it has happened.

I mean, let me explain how I see this coming about...
I... I... I... I really... again, I don't know... I'm not sure... Ah... Is this... Is this a... Is this a newspaper or is this a magazine, or what is this? Who are you working for?
Transportation Alternatives has two publications, and...
They're an environmentalist?
One of our publications the Auto-Free Press and the other is the City Cyclist.
Auto-Free Press?
Do you come out of New Jersey?
We are based in New York City. And we cover issues in New Jersey.
I see.
And we sometimes attend the Council meetings.
Okay, continue.

The way I see the situation we're in, and the state of automobile dependence, basically, and basic use by the majority of people is because we've been building highways all these years, you know, its created the situation where if you want to get around, you have to use a car. I don't see the highways coming from people wanting to use cars, but I see the people using cars coming from the building of highways.
Yeah, I know, that's a typical reaction from the environmental group. And it has merit. We have to face the fact of life the way it is today. I just do not believe in punishing people just because they own cars.

I totally agree with you.
Well, so that's good.

Punishment is not the purpose...
Pardon me?
Punishment is not the purpose anyone should have in mind for planning. It should be planning what is the most productive use of our resources.
And I understand where you're coming from. But if you are interviewing me for an article that's one thing, or if you just want to discuss this with me its another.

Well, I'm giving you the points I'm giving in the article and seeing how you respond, so it could be seen as a dialogue, instead of just us ranting or you ranting. It's just how we see each other.

I appreciate your discussion...
What we need is balance my friend. I have to tell you that my whole, everything that I have, I believe that we have to slowly try to move people, and get as many people into mass transit as possible, so that you understand. But I also believe in safety of our bridges and safety of our roads. I believe we have to slowly do things, but we can not immediately force people to change their lifestyle overnight. It's just not going to happen. It would create a revolution and a revolt.

What we have to do is slowly do these things and at the same time try to accommodate as many people as possible without having people being totally upset. There are those that sit in traffic lines for an hour, looking for somebody to help them, and no one is help them, so we have to be the people that have to help them. Your people do not agree in certain instances with widening roads or getting rid of congestion hot spots. I happen to think that's wrong. I think you have to try to eliminate those things, to move people along, to get them home to get them to super markets where they have to go by automobile, get them to entertainment places where they have to go by automobile and at the same time try to come up with a better transit plan.

It's very difficult to get people on trains if there's no train. It's very difficult to move people on buses if the bus doesn't go where they want to go or if there aren't any buses. What we have to do is get a better transit system. We have to move in that direction. We have to come up with a way to make people want to get on mass transit. No one wants to go to a bus stop in the middle of January morning when it's seven degrees out and go stand at a bus stop for half an hour, they're just not going to do it. It's just the way life is. So what we have to do is try to make it that they will want to do that or we got to make it so that we can get them to the place or get the bus to their house, perhaps. There's got to be a better way of doing mass transit than we have been doing. That's what we have to focus in on. When we do that, then you will start to see mass transit take over. You will start to see people getting into mass transit. But while we are doing that, and while we are making those plans and preparations, we can not ignore the fact of life as it so stands today. We have to make it as easy as possible for people. That's what I believe in.


Thank you very much.
I will continue to work for that and I hope that accommodates your view, as well. But if it doesn't, I appreciate where you come from, but understand that it is my job to represent the people, the mass, the vast majority of the people and I have to do that to the best of my ability.

Mr DuHaime was interviewed via telephone by Daniel Convissor on 1 February 1994

Mr DuHaime wrote a letter to the editor of The Star-Ledger


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Last updated: 4 April 1999