NJ Transit Approves "Shock to the System" Fare Hikes

By Brian Thompson
|  Wednesday, Apr 14, 2010  |  Updated 12:28 PM EDT
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Riding to New Jersey? Today you'll find out how much more expensive the trip will be.

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NJ Transit officials voted today for "shock to the system" fare hikes that will boost some ticket prices by up to 25 percent.

Local in-state bus fares will go up 10 percent while all train fares, along with New York City-bound bus fares, will be hiked 25 percent. The transit board also voted to eliminate off peak train discounts.

The plan restores almost $4 million in bus routes eliminations that were announced in March.
    
Officials reduced the bus fare hike and revised service cuts following hearings with members of the public who said the fare hikes make travel a hard-ship for many cash-strapped commuters.

The fare increases are set to take effect May 1. Board member Kevin Pringle called them a "shock to the system." 

For example, if you live in Morristown and your monthly train pass is $289, with the 25 percent fare hike you will now be paying $361, a $72 dollar increase.

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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