NEWARK— The NJ Transit Board of Directors today approved a plan to raise fares by up to 25 percent to help close the agency’s looming $300 million budget gap.
Today’s action strikes a balance between the proper stewardship of fiscal responsibility and providing a customer-focused and high-quality public transportation system, according to transit officials.
“In these extraordinary financial times we are learning to do more with less and by doing so, NJ Transit will emerge a stronger, more financially-stable agency, serving the needs of New Jersey with a quality public transportation system,” said Executive Director Jim Weinstein.
“We engaged in a productive public dialogue over the last two months that allowed us to develop a plan that would begin to build a foundation to maintain financial stability while balancing a commitment to customers by offering discounted pass options and continuing service levels in areas where there is customer demand,” Weinstein said.
Democratic legislators blasted the fare hikes as an unfair tax on New Jersey commuters.
“Gov. Christie’s record-breaking fare increase takes money from the pockets of working families and hits doubly hard because it also comes with service cuts,” said Assembly Transportation Vice Chairwoman Linda Stender (D-Union.) “This fare hike is yet another blow to working families who are already staggering under the burden of Gov. Christie’s proposed cuts to property tax relief and his plan for new and increased fees on senior citizens.”
NJ Transit’s new fares will take effect May 1. There will be a 10 percent increase for local bus and light rail customers. Current Access Link services for people with disabilities who are unable to use regular bus service, and selected bus routes in eight counties will be maintained.
Fares for one-zone local bus, light rail and Access Link services will be adjusted from $1.35 to $1.50. Customer incentives to purchase discounted fares will continue with monthly fare options that can save a customer up to 30 percent off the cost of one-way tickets for daily commuting.
Commuter rail and interstate bus tickets will increase 25 percent. Off-peak rail roundtrip discounts will not be sold after April 30 and will no longer be accepted after May 23. Most customers using weekly and monthly rail passes will continue to be able to make connections between trains and buses without additional cost. Discounted 10-trip bus tickets will continue to be offered, with discounts up to 15 percent.
“We have a clear responsibility to balance NJ TRANSIT’s budget and at the same time we recognize the importance of quality system public transportation for all New Jersey’s residents,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairman Jim Simpson. “If we are going to provide a public sector service with a private sector mindset we must commit ourselves to both ensuring the quality of the product we offer and building a delivery model that is financially sustainable.”
The board also took action to maintain service on several local bus routes in Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren counties that had been proposed for elimination. In addition, NJ TRANSIT will continue to operate its No. 68 (Old Bridge–Weehawken) and No. 138 (Old Bridge–East Brunswick–New York) routes.
“Ridership and customer demand supported maintaining service levels for many bus routes that are essential for hard working families living and working in Central and Northwestern New Jersey,” Weinstein said. “We appreciate the leadership of municipal, county and state legislators in helping to reach outcomes that enabled us to streamline and improve the cost efficiency of these services, while maintaining key routes that help people reach their jobs.”
For more information on approved fares and service changes visit: www.njtransit.com/budget.
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