Facing a $300 million budget deficit, New Jersey Transit today proposed increasing fares by a whopping 25 perecnt system wide, as well as service cuts.
Under the proposal, a one-zone local bus trip or one-way ticket on Newark or River Line light rail lines would increase from $1.35 to $1.70 per ride, remaining lower than base fares on transit systems in New York ($2.25) and Philadelphia ($2.00).
One-way commuter rail tickets would increase about 25 percent, subject to rounding.
Rail ticket prices vary based on distance, but one-way fares would rise from a range of $1.25-$13.25 to a range $1.50-$16.50. (For example, a trip from Metropark in Iselin, NJ to New York Penn Station today is $8 and under the plan would rise to $10.) Hudson-Bergen Light Rail tickets would increase from $1.90 to $2.40 per trip.
“We recognize that any increase is a burden for our customers, particularly during a recession,” said Executive Director Jim Weinstein. “However, we have worked to keep local bus fares below the regional average and preserved some important discounts for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as for students and others who are among the most transit dependent.”
The plan calls for most of the changes to take effect May 1, 2010, and NJ TRANSIT expects to generate more than $140 million in revenue. The agency pointed out that with the proposed increase, fares will be three percent lower than they were in Fiscal Year 1991, based on inflation-adjusted dollars.
On the service side, NJ Transit proposes to eliminate 32 of 725 commuter trains, with at least two trains scheduled for elimination on each of the system’s 11 lines. Morris and Essex line service would be reduced by seven trains on weekdays (four are off-peak).
“Our service plan is designed to size our service to match ridership demand,” said Weinstein. “We also looked at where we could squeeze out the most costs while impacting as few customers as possible.”
Under the plan, bus customers would experience reduced service frequency on about 50 routes systemwide. In most instances, the interval between bus arrival times will grow by a range of five to 20 minutes.