💲NJ Transit fares have not increased since 2015

💲The agency faces a $119 budget shortfall for Fiscal Year 2025

💲Fares would go up every year under the proposal

It appears NJ Transit's nine-year streak of no fare increases is about to come to an end as the agency is proposing for a fare increase to take effect July 1.

Facing an estimated $119 million budget shortfall in fiscal year 2025 the agency, whose ridership shrunk significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, is calling for a systemwide "fare adjustment" of 15 percent. The agency is also calling for annual increases of 3%, effective July 1, 2025.

The agency made its case for the "adjustment" on its website citing a COVID-19 pandemic drop in ridership, increased operational costs and the $30 million cost of taking on routes and services abandoned by DeCamp, Coach USA and A&C.

White NJ Transit says its ridership has bounced back to 80% of pre-pandemic levels, its farebox revenue has dropped nearly $2 billion and is facing a budget deficit of $119 million in fiscal year 2025.

"NJ Transit responsibly used federal COVID relief funding over a multi-year period to maintain full service levels, however that funding will be exhausted in Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25), which runs from July, 1 2024 through June 30, 2025. The COVID pandemic exacerbated the agency’s structural funding deficit that has existed since NJ Transit was created more than 40 years ago," the agency said in a statement.

Example of fare increases proposed by NJ Transit
Example of fare increases proposed by NJ Transit (NJ Transit)

When does the public get to comment?

The public will have a chance to weigh in about the proposed increases with ten scheduled public hearings in ten New Jersey counties Monday, March 4 through Friday, March 8.

Comments can be submitted in four ways:

The public comment period will be open until 11:59 p.m., Friday, March 8, 2024.

Objections to the increase

Critics of the increase are already calling upon NJ Transit to reconsider.

“We’ve made a commitment to make New Jersey more affordable. Before making a final decision, I urge the agency’s board to consider the impact higher fares will have on bus and train passengers who rely on NJTransit’s service," Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, (D-Middlesex) said in a statement. "I commend the agency for considering non-fare box savings and revenue enhancements to help close the budget gap. The legislature will continue to explore options to help support transportation in the state.”

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign in a statement is also concerned about the equity of an increase.

“This proposed fare hike, the largest in recent years, places an unfair financial burden on the commuters and families who rely on NJ Transit for their daily transportation needs. It is a clear indication that the current administration under Governor Murphy is failing to explore and implement alternative, sustainable funding strategies for our public transit system," Executive Director Renae Reynolds said.

Reynolds said that such an increase disproportionately impacts low-income riders and undermines efforts to combat climate change.

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