NEWARK — NJ Transit today implemented an emergency spending freeze and told employees that it will reduce its workforce by more than 200, rollback spending on retirement accounts, and cut executive salaries.
A total of more than $30 million in reductions have been identified to help solve a combined $300 million budget gap projected for FY 2010 and 2011. The force reduction represents about 2% of the total workforce, and includes both union agreement and non-agreement employees.
“These are extremely painful steps, but unavoidable ones. We must close our serious budget shortfall, and we at NJ Transit must do our part by making this the leanest, most efficient agency possible, without compromising safety,” said Executive Director James Weinstein. Weinstein noted that the workforce reduction will be the deepest one-year reduction in agency’s 30-year history.
Meanwhile, the corporation’s contributions to employee 401K accounts will be reduced by one-third, and executive salaries will be cut five percent. These reductions follow in the wake of hiring and salary freezes that began last year, as well as unpaid furloughs for administrative (non-agreement) employees.
NJ Transit officials also have identified cost reductions in parts, fuel, utilities, and contracts that will be renegotiated to avoid escalations. The emergency spending freeze allows the agency to halt spending that is not directly tied to operations or that is not critical for safety.
The agency also is continuing to develop fare and service change plans to respond to this financial crisis. Those proposals will be announced next week.
“Unfortunately, fare and service changes will have to be a part of NJ Transit’s overall response to this financial crisis,” Weinstein said. “I know this will be painful for our customers. I welcome their suggestions and ideas as well as those of the public.”
He added: “The decisions we must make will not be easy. But together we can get through this very difficult time, and NJ Transit can emerge a strong, stable agency that will be ready to respond to the transit needs of New Jersey citizens.”
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