NEWARK, NJ — The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today approved a sustainable fare and service plan while still helping close the agency’s looming $300 million budget gap. Today’s action strikes a balance between the proper stewardship of fiscal responsibility and providing a customer-focused and high-quality public transportation system.
“In these extraordinary financial times we are learning to do more with less and by doing so, NJ TRANSIT will emerge a stronger, more financially-stable agency, serving the needs of New Jersey with a quality public transportation system,” said Executive Director Jim Weinstein. s
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA); of 151 agencies surveyed 84 percent are considering fare increases and service adjustments to balance budgets. Findings also stated that 44 percent of agencies raised fares in the past 15 months; up from 2008, when 30 percent of agencies did.
"We engaged in a productive public dialogue over the last two months that allowed us to develop a plan that would begin to build a foundation to maintain financial stability while balancing a commitment to customers by offering discounted pass options and continuing service levels in areas where there is customer demand,” Weinstein said. “This plan tackles this financial crisis head-on and helps to address the State's collective needs for fiscal responsibility.”
NJ TRANSIT’s sustainable fare plans will take effect May 1, 2010. Under the new plan there will be a modest 10 percent increase for local bus and light rail customers.
Current Access Link services for people with disabilities who are unable to use regular bus service, and selected bus routes in eight counties will be maintained.
“We have a clear responsibility to balance NJ TRANSIT’s budget and at the same time we recognize the importance of quality system public transportation for all New Jersey’s residents,” said New Jersey Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Chairman Jim Simpson. “If we are going to provide a public sector service with a private sector mindset we must commit ourselves to both ensuring the quality of the product we offer and building a delivery model that is financially sustainable.”
NJ TRANSIT has implemented best business practices to reduce operating expenses and increase route productivity. Under the plan, fares for one-zone local bus, light rail and Access Link services will be adjusted from $1.35 to $1.50. Customer incentives to purchase discounted fares will continue with monthly fare options that can save a customer up to 30 percent off the cost of one-way tickets for daily commuting.
Under the new plan, commuter rail and interstate bus tickets will increase 25 percent to be able to continue providing a quality product. Off-peak rail roundtrip discounts – purchased by less than 20 percent of rail customers – will not be sold after April 30 and will no longer be accepted after May 23. Most customers using weekly and monthly rail passes will continue to be able to make connections between trains and buses without additional cost. Discounted 10-trip bus tickets will continue to be offered, with discounts up to 15 percent.
“We are committed to providing customers and taxpayers alike with a quality public transportation system and as such developed a plan that meets that commitment and the needs of our customers,” said Weinstein. “The fare and service adjustments will provide for a quality product for New Jersey residents.”
The Board also took action to maintain service on several local bus routes in Middlesex, Morris, Monmouth, Somerset, and Warren counties that had been proposed for elimination. In addition, NJ TRANSIT will continue to operate its No. 68 (Old Bridge–Weehawken) and No. 138 (Old Bridge–East Brunswick–New York) routes.
“Ridership and customer demand supported maintaining service levels for many bus routes that are essential for hard working families living and working in Central and Northwestern New Jersey,” Weinstein said. “We appreciate the leadership of municipal, county and state legislators in helping to reach outcomes that enabled us to streamline and improve the cost efficiency of these services, while maintaining key routes that help people reach their jobs.
"Individuals with disabilities can continue accessing dependable and affordable public transportation. The restoration of selected bus services leaves intact NJ TRANSIT’s current network of Access Link paratransit services. Also, a number of train schedules will be adjusted to accommodate customers whose service was impacted to be able to continue to meet their needs," concluded Weinstein.
For more information on approved fares and service changes visit: www.njtransit.com/budget.
About NJ TRANSIT
NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 895,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 165 rail stations, 60 light rail stations and more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.