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NJ TRANSIT OUTLINES FARE PLAN TO SUPPORT NEW AND EXPANDED SERVICES

Flexible intermodal ticket use, multi-ride and off-peak discounts preserved

February 13, 2007
NJT-07-011

NEWARK, NJ – At its regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting today, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director George D. Warrington outlined the Corporation’s proposal to increase fares by a system-wide average of 9.6 percent to help pay for expanded services needed to meet record ridership demands, as well as inflation and other key cost drivers.

The proposal preserves the Corporation’s flexible ticketing policies that enable customers to use certain passes on any travel mode; holds multi-ride and off-peak discount rates at their current levels; and continues to freeze the level of capital funds transferred to the operating budget for the fourth consecutive year.

The public will have a chance to learn more about the proposal and offer comments and suggestions at public hearings beginning February 28 at locations across the state and in New York before the plan is considered by the Board in April. Starting today, NJ TRANSIT is also encouraging the public to submit comments online at www.njtransit.com, as well as through standard mail delivery.

During his presentation, Warrington noted that basic inflation alone costs the Corporation $45 million on a $1.5 billion base operating budget, with new and expanded services adding another $17 million. The Corporation expects to receive the same level of funding from the state as last year, which includes a $22 million increase over FY06 levels.

Overall, he said, the net operating need for FY08 is projected to be about $60 million. To generate the required revenue, while holding down the average fare adjustment as low as possible, the plan calls for its implementation over 13 months rather than 12.

"System-wide service levels have increased three times more over the last five years than the previous five years," Warrington said. "Looking forward, I believe it’s timely for a renewed public policy discussion about creative revenue opportunities to support transit operations – meaning that we need to define policy options about what the right, long term, structural fix is to support an expanding system over the next decade. Meanwhile, we have a fiduciary responsibility to recommend a balanced operating budget for the next fiscal year.

Under the proposal:

  • A one-zone full fare bus trip would increase by 10 cents—from $1.25 to $1.35. Bus fares remain substantially lower than the regional average of $2 per trip.
  • Intrastate bus and light rail monthly passes would be adjusted for the first time in five years.
  • Interstate bus and rail monthly fares would increase an average of 9.9 percent. Rail monthly passes would continue to provide unlimited travel at 30%-off the one-way full fare. Interstate bus monthly passes would be discounted between 20-50 percent.

Commuter benefits:

  • Off-peak, round-trip excursion rail discount levels are NOT affected and would remain at 15%-off the full fare.
  • In response to customer feedback, the proposal eliminates the access fee for children 11 and under at Newark International Airport – saving families $11 roundtrip per child.
  • The fee for travel in Newark’s business district between Warren Street and Newark Penn Station on the Newark City Subway will continue to be discounted by 50 percent.

Public comment encouraged

To ensure an inclusive public comment process, the Corporation has scheduled 13 hearings and an information session across the state from February 28 through March 8. The hearing schedule includes a Saturday session for commuters unable to participate in the evenings.

Hearing Schedule:

Wednesday, February 28:

  • Hoboken City Hall, 94 Washington Street, Hoboken.
  • Rutgers Camden Campus Center, 3rd and Penn Streets, Camden.

Thursday, March 1:

  • Passaic County Administration Building, 401 Grand Street, Paterson.
  • Somerset County Administration Building, 20 Grove Street, Somerville.
  • Summit City Hall, 512 Springfield Avenue, Summit.

Saturday, March 3: Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick.

Tuesday, March 6:

  • NJ Department of Environmental Protection, 401 East State Street, Trenton.
  • Atlantic City Convention Center, One Miss America Way, Atlantic City.
  • Port Authority Bus Terminal, Times Square Hall – 2nd Fl, 625 8th Ave., New York City.

Wednesday, March 7:

  • NJ TRANSIT Headquarters, One Penn Plaza East, Newark.
  • Monmouth County Library, 125 Symmes Drive, Manalapan.

Thursday, March 8:

  • Bergen County Freeholders Public Meeting Room, One Bergen County Plaza, Hackensack.
  • Toms River Park & Ride, 400 Highland Parkway South, Toms River.

Financial outlook

In his remarks, Warrington noted that as part of NJ TRANSIT’s fare history, a series of significant and often annual fare increases in the 1980’s was followed by a total absence of increases for 12 years throughout the 1990’s and into the new century.

He said that during that period, the underlying annual operating need to fund inflation, extraordinary cost growth and new services was masked with a steady diet of increased transfers from the capital budget. Over time, $3 billion was transferred from capital to support operations.

"It’s relevant to note what we could and should have done with that $3 billion in capital over the last decade to advance new capacity and services across the system, and it’s essential that we find other ways to fund the operating budget without further burdening the capital program," Warrington said.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 857,000 daily trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.