Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
(April 14, Matthew Schuerman, WNYC)
Do the math. If you pay $600 a month now for transit, you'll pay $750 beginning May 1, or $1800 more a year. That's the biggest hike (by percent) in almost three decades.
Succumbing to crushing fiscal realities faced by transit systems across the nation, the third large transit system in America voted unanimously today to approve higher fares and service cuts. The vote was 6-0.
Most express bus and commuter rail fares into New York will go up 25 percent. Off-peak train fares will rise by almost 50 percent because off-peak discounts will be eliminated.
The cost of local bus routes and most light rail lines will go up about 10 percent to a dollar fifty. Those bus routes were originally slated to go up by 25 percent. N-J Transit officials said they wanted to reduce the burden on low-income riders and seniors who have no other transportation option.
The service cuts mean 35 fewer trains will run each day, and 16 bus routes will be eliminated entirely, though some routes that were supposed to be eliminated were restored because of public opposition.
The higher fares and service cuts will total 146 million dollars for the fiscal year beginning July 1st. That's 17 million dollars less than under the package proposed in March. But Governor Christie's latest budget proposal didn't cut funding for the next fiscal year as much as the transportation agency expected.
N-J Transit still needs to find another 100 million dollars in annual savings to break even. It says it's considering privatizing parking lots.
The fare hikes are going into effect May First, with service reductions soon afterwards.