New York, NY —
New Jersey Transit bus and rail riders could face a 30 percent fare hike as early as this May, according to union leaders.
The executive director of NJ Transit, James Weinstein, won't give a specific number, but says the hike will be significant.
"I'm not going to tell you that there's not going to be a fare hike. I can't tell you that, I'd be misleading you," Weinstein says.
He says NJ Transit's projected deficit for July 1 has grown to $300 million. That's about 17 percent of its annual operating budget. Gov. Chris Christie also announced he is freezing $33 million dollars of state subsidies to NJ Transit, money the agency was expecting for the fiscal year ending June 30.
One NJ Transit rider, Robert Pender, an insurance adjuster from Garwood, says he didn't vote for Gov. Christie but supports the transit cuts. "I think the state should pitch in a little bit more, but we've kind of made the bed that we're in right now and we need to work on ways to get out of that and we can't keep taxing, taxing, taxing people. So, we need to see what other alternatives there are," Pender says.
Transit advocates say the state should raise the needed revenue from a gas tax. Weinstein, who was appointed by Gov. Christie last month, says drivers are paying their fair share because tolls on the New Jersey Turnpike went up recently and are scheduled to go up again soon.