New Jersey Transit has proposed drastic fare increases to fill an alleged $300 million budget shortfall during the next fiscal year. In addition, Gov. Christie has cut NJT’s curent-year subsidy by $32.7 million.
The fare increases will average 25% across the board, with a special increase for rail riders who ride trains outside of commuting hours. Those fares, for round trips taken at off-peak times, will rise by 45% to 64%. Examples include Chatham to New York ($13.25 to $20.00; 45%) and South Orange to Broad St. Station in Newark ($2.75 to $4.50; 64%). Under the new plan, commuting at peak hours will cost riders significantly less than riding at other times. The Lackawanna Coalition is concerned that such a significant rise in off-peak fares will bring severe service cuts, which happened in 2006 and 2008.
There will also be service cuts; minor peak and off-peak cuts on the M&E and Montclair-Boonton Lines, mostly Hoboken trains. Points on the Montcialr-Boonton Line between Montclair State and Denville will lose their two mid-day trains in each direction. Newark Light Rail service will be reduced sharply, and week-end service from Hoboken on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail will also be cut. The most drastic bus cuts will occur in Morris County, where every local bus except the M10 is slated for elimination.
Hearings on the proposal are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, March 25th and 26th, at 5:30 pm. The one schedule for Thursday at NJT Headquarters in Newark, is expected to draw the largest crowd. The Coalition will be on hand to object, and anyone who cares about our transit is welcome to attend and make a statement. The full proposal can be found on the NJT web site, www.njtransit.com.