- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Bus and rail commuters on New Jersey Transit would face fare increases for the first time in five years and see some service cuts under proposals released Monday that seek to close an estimated $60 million budget gap.

The increases average roughly between 7 and 9 percent and would be the first imposed by NJ Transit since 2010, when it hiked fares by an average of 22 percent. Last month NJ Transit Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said she would seek to keep increases in the single digits.

“I recognize the impact of the previous fare and service adjustments and the resulting burden on many of our customers,” Hakim said in a statement on the agency’s website. “As I’ve previously noted, we will take all steps to avoid the level of fare adjustments from 2010.”

Hakim also said last month that the $60 million budget gap remained even though NJ Transit had been able to identify more than $40 million in internal savings.

Among the increases would be a 75-cent hike for a one-way ride from Metropark to New York, which currently costs $10. The proposed monthly rate for that route would rise by $26, to $310, an increase of 9 percent. Shorter rides, such as from Clifton to Hoboken, Cranford to Newark and Brick Church to Summit, would rise 25 cents.

One-way fares between Trenton and New York, the two endpoints of the Northeast Corridor Line, would rise $1.25 to $16.75, an 8 percent increase. A monthly ticket would increase 9 percent, from $440 to $480.

Reaction against the increases was swift. The Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a public transportation advocacy group, tweeted a picture of two slices of pizza, one covered with slips of paper showing NJ Transit’s fare increases since 2002 and the other unadorned to represent an absence of increases to the state’s gas tax over the same period.

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, a Democrat, said the increases would disproportionately affect working-class New Jerseyans. He said in an emailed statement he was “astonished by the lack of regard for the working people of New Jersey who rely on NJ Transit to make ends meet.”

NJ Transit also is proposing to eliminate one post-midnight departure from Hoboken on each of the Pascack Valley and Montclair-Boonton lines.

Bus fares also would rise.

A one-way ride from Lakewood to New York would go up $1.50 to $19.00, for example, and a monthly pass would rise $37, to $448, a 9 percent increase. NJ Transit also wants to eliminate service on several routes in southern New Jersey, including service from Freehold and Philadelphia to Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson.

Nine public hearings and one information session have been scheduled for May 16 to 21.

The public sessions will be held in New Brunswick, Atlantic City, Freehold, Secaucus, Camden, Newark, Hackensack, Trenton, Morristown and Paterson.

In 2010, the public hearings contributed to NJ Transit officials restoring nearly $4 million in bus routes and services they’d previously said would be cut.

NJ Transit is the largest statewide public transportation system in the country and operates 261 bus routes, 12 commuter rail lines and three light rail lines.


New Jersey Transit:


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