NJ Transit board votes to approve 15% fare hike; will go into effect in July

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024
NJ Transit board votes to approve 15% fare hike
Anthony Johnson has the story in New Jersey on transit fare pricing.

NEWARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- The New Jersey Transit Board of Directors voted to approve a 15% fare hike on Wednesday morning.

The 9-0 vote came after an hour of people speaking against the hike -- which is the first in nearly a decade.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla joined a protest by transit and other advocacy groups outside NJ Transit's offices in Newark, before the board meeting.

"We're talking about a 30% increase over a short period of time, that's just not right," Bhalla said.

NJ Transit is facing a more than $100 million budget deficit this coming fiscal year and a nearly $1 billion the year after, similar to shortfalls mass transit agencies around the country are experiencing due to lower ridership post-pandemic, as commuter trends and work-from-home patterns have changed.

Authorities say ridership is at only 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

NJ Transit has used federal funds to help offset the gap, but that money is set to run out soon.

Transit officials say the 15% hike will begin on July 1 and a 3% annual hike will begin in 2025.

Hundreds of people spoke out against the plan during public hearings on the issue.

"Asking people on top of struggling to make everyday ends meet, to pay an additional 15% increase because others are not paying what they owe," one person said.

"I wish you'd look inside your agencies to see if there's any kind of bloating that you can cut out and try to not raise the rates on many taxpayers or the ridership," another rider asked officials.

NJ Transit riders haven't had a fare hike during the Murphy administration, and the agency will be looking to stabilize its finances moving forward by instituting annual fare hikes, similar to the MTA and other transportation agencies.

In addition to the increases, the flex plan is being eliminated and one-way tickets will expire after 30 days.

NJ Transit is proposing the 15% fare hike at the same time the state is suing the MTA over its congestion pricing plan, which raises money to fund mass transit in New York by charging $15 daily for drivers in Manhattan's Central Business District. That plan is expected to go into effect mid June, although it is facing several court challenges.

Gov. Phil Murphy is also proposing a corporate transit tax that imposes a 2.5% charge on companies that earn more than $10 million a year, to address NJ Transit's looming budget deficits. That will be debated in the state legislature ahead of the July 1 budget deadline.


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