NEWARK, NJ, December 12, 2001 -- The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today authorized six public hearings next month in support of a six-year fare policy initiative to help the Corporation address a growing budget shortfall -- including an average 10 percent increase in fares on trains, buses and the Newark City Subway in its first year and subsequent inflationary fare increases the following five years. Hudson-Bergen Light Rail fares would remain steady in year one, with possible fare changes authorized in years two through six.
The proposal -- the first fare increase request for the Corporation in more than a decade -- will raise an estimated $44 million in its first year (annualized). The initiative will help NJ TRANSIT begin to close a projected $3.1 billion operating and capital budget gap based on needs over the next five years, an estimate unveiled this fall in the Corporation's Call to Action five-year strategic plan. The request also attempts to streamline some of the Corporation’s complicated fare structure, much of which existed since the birth of NJ TRANSIT in 1980.
"It's no secret that NJ TRANSIT is facing a budget crisis," said NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman and State Transportation Commissioner James Weinstein. "After adjustments for inflation, fares have actually declined 29 percent since 1991. Thanks to the wide-ranging support we have received from transportation advocacy groups to help close our budget gap, I believe this is the right time to advance this fare policy initiative."
The new fare policy initiative -- as currently proposed -- would consist of the following elements:
NJ TRANSIT has not implemented a fare increase since 1991. Since that time, the Corporation's operating expenses have risen 67 percent. Over the last 10 years, ridership increases have boosted farebox revenues by $152 million and non-farebox revenues have increased by $41 million. However, NJ TRANSIT's shortfall in funding for Fiscal Year 2002 (FY 02) was more than $200 million (defined as requested budget increase vs. actual budget increase). As State and Federal operating subsidies have declined, NJ TRANSIT capital funds -- which are used to purchase equipment and build facilities and infrastructure -- have been used to help offset rising operating costs.
NJ TRANSIT will be reaching out to its customers over the next two weeks to inform them about the need for a fare increase through customer notices, posters and the media. The Corporation will also host six public hearings throughout New Jersey on January 2, 2002, offering its riders and the general public an opportunity to comment on the fare policy initiative . All public hearings will begin at 8 p.m. and will be held at the following locations:
Individuals requesting sign language interpreters should contact the Public Hearing Office at 973-491-7022.
Those unable to attend the hearings may send written comments to: Public Hearing Office-Fare Proposal Comments, NJ TRANSIT, One Penn Plaza East, Newark, NJ 07105. Comments may also be sent by e-mail to email@example.com. Comments must be received no later than January 2, 2002.