Gov. Chris Christie’s proposed cuts to NJ Transit, or 25% fare hikes for riders, would mean fares would have increased 68% since 2000, while the state gas tax has not increased since 1988, gripe members of a coaltion including the N.J. Advocate for the Tr-State Transportation Campaign, local union leaders and environmental groups.
“NJ Transit service cuts and fare hikes have fallen, and will continue to fall, on the shoulders of working families unless a more sustainable, balanced and long-term funding solution is found,” said Zoe Baldwin, NJ Advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, hours before NJ Transit is scheduled to hold hearings on the governor’s fare hike hit. “Investment in transit benefits all of us, so everyone loses when Trenton can’t muster the courage to do the right thing.”
The third largest statewide public transportation system in the country, New Jersey Transit provides more than 895,600 daily trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines.
“Operating a system like NJ Transit costs a lot of money,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club, “and some things are worth paying for. Less traffic, a cleaner environment, and healthy communities are a sound investment. Everyone has a right to get around, but these cuts slash the quality of life for thousands of New Jerseyans.”
Joining against the fare increases are Environment New Jersey, the National Conference of Firemen & Oilers/District of 32BJ/SEIU, NJPIRG, and the NJ Amalgamated Transit Union.
Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), chair of the state Democratic Party and chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, said he does not understand why the 25% fare hike is still even an option, citing budgeting decisions by NJ Transit in response to the governor’s budget.
“If you’ve now made up the short fall (a Christie-proposed $30 million cut to operations) by eliminating $30 million in salaries, why are we still raiiing fares 25%?” he asked.