Dig Deep: NJ Transit Fare Hikes Take Effect Saturday

Friday, Apr 30, 2010  |  Updated 4:19 PM EDT
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Dig Deep: NJ Transit Fare Hikes Take Effect Saturday

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Get ready to dig deeper.

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NJ Transit bus and rail riders will pay more to reach their destinations starting Saturday.

Fares will rise up to 25 percent for rail and intercity bus service and by 10 percent for local bus and light rail. Off-peak discounts also have been eliminated.

The agency has said the increases -- the first since fares went up about 9 percent in 2007 -- were made necessary by a $300 million budget shortfall for the coming fiscal year.

NJ Transit also saw an 11 percent cut in its state subsidy.

NJ Transit also has imposed an emergency spending freeze and plans to reduce its work force by about 2 percent, trim executive salaries by 5 percent and reduce corporate contributions to employees' 401(k) plans by one-third.

The changes are part of efforts to offset a $300 million budget shortfall. Board Chairman Jim Simpson said budget problems are "like a tsunami."

Simpson said, "this is being played out all over the country," referring to how Colorado Springs is considering turning lights off at night and the postal service is pushing to end Saturday delivery in an effort to close budget deficits.

But angry riders say the cuts fall hardest on low-income riders. Several speakers at today's hearing called for increases in gas taxes or new tolls to make drivers share the pain.

NJ Transit last raised fares by about 9 percent in 2007 to accommodate expanded services for record high ridership.

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