Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NJ Transit approves fare hikes for rail; eases bus, LRT hikes

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As expected, New Jersey Transit’s Board of Directors Wednesday approved fare increases averaging roughly 22% for its rail, light rail, and bus operations. Statewide rail operations suffered the steepest increase, averaging 25%, the target increase initially advanced by NJT earlier this year.

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By contrast, increases for intrastate bus and light rail operations were more modest, up about 10%. NJT also restored almost $4 million in bus routes eliminations that were announced in March.

Off-peak rail discount fares will be eliminated. All changes are set to take effect Saturday, May 1.

Aware of the inevitability of the Board’s actions Wednesday, rail advocates attending the meeting at NJT’s Newark, N.J. headquarters still voiced their dissent, with one speaker lamenting the state’s willingness to punish transit riders “for doing the right thing,” while the state’s drivers suffer no comparable fate.

Gov. Chris Christie has vowed not to raise New Jersey’s state motor fuels tax, currently among the lowest in the nation. The state last raised its motor fuels tax, which funds the Transportation Trust Fund, in 1988. The TTF is a primary source of capital for improvements to New Jersey’s rail and highway infrastructure. 

For additional perspective on see Railway Age Editor William C. Vantuono’s editorial, “Read my lips: No new gas tax?