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article imageNew Jersey transit riders upset over 25% fare increase, cuts

By Andrew Moran     Mar 8, 2010 in Business
Jersey City - New Jersey transit officials have announced that they will cut many services across the board but also institute a 25 percent fare increase to bring down its budget deficit.
As of May 1, the New Jersey transit system will impose a 25 percent fare increase in order to generate $140 million that will help cut its $300 million budget deficit, while the changes will also cut jobs, services and trim salaries, according to Business Week.
“We recognize that any increase is a burden for our customers, particularly during a recession. However, we have worked to keep local bus fares below the regional average and preserved some important discounts for seniors and people with disabilities,” said Executive Director of the third-largest United States transit system, James Weinstein.
Last month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that it will cut its $296 million annual subsidy by 11 percent, or $30 million, to help lower the $2.2 billion state budget deficit for the fiscal year, which concludes on June 30. Christie has vowed not to raise taxes.
However, Democrat Assemblyman John Wisniewski believes the transit fare increase is still a tax increase but with another name.
The Associated Press reports that the transit system plans to eliminate 32 of its 725 commuter trains, services will be cut for about 50 bus routes, while arrival times will take longer between 5 and 20 minutes. Three bus routes will be completely eliminated, while many local routes will be privately operated. The wheels minibus will also be cancelled in all 21 counties. Light rail customers will see frequent reductions over the next little while.
“Raising fees on transit riders while avoiding raising fees on car or truck drivers is an unbalanced and inequitable way to fund our transportation network. Transit fares have increased 68 percent over the past decade, far outpacing the increases for drivers,” said Zoe Baldwin of the pro-transit Tri-State Transportation Campaign, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.
At the end of March, New Jersey Transit will hold several public hearings on the plan, “I look forward to hearing the feedback personally from our customers at the public hearings because we need to understand the on-the-ground impacts for folks, not just how this works on paper,” said Weinstein.
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