NJ Transit Bus, Rail Fares to Increase About 9 Percent

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -

New Jersey Transit fares, which include the bus from Lakewood to New York City, will jump about 9 percent for bus and rail riders starting in October, a move the agency’s board of directors approved Wednesday to help cover a gaping $60 million budget hole.

Commuters in New Jersey take nearly one million trips on the state transit agency’s trains, buses and light rail cars each week.

For example, one-way fares between Trenton and New York, the two endpoints of the Northeast Corridor Line, will rise by $1.25 to $16.75, an 8 percent increase. A monthly ticket would increase 9 percent, from $440 to $480.

Gov. Chris Christie, who was in Maryland Wednesday to receive an endorsement in his presidential run from Gov. Larry Hogan, said riders have to bear some of the burden.

“You know, no one ever likes to see fares go up,” he said. “But you know, in this world, increased service, increased wages all cost money. And the state’s putting a lot of money into New Jersey Transit and will continue to do so, but riders have to bear some of that responsibility as well.”

On Wednesday, the increased fares generated fierce opposition among labor, environmental and transportation organizations, among others. Roughly two dozen people took part in the public comment session before the board voted — all were opposed.

“This is a tax hike by another name,” said Rob Duffy, the policy and communications director of New Jersey Working Families.

Jamie Fox, the board chairman, said that without raising fares, they would have had to lay off 1,000 workers and making drastic service cuts.

“I will not vote for a budget that reduces service and lays people off,” Fox said.