New Jersey Transit is facing an exponential budget deficit and low ridership numbers, and straphangers are the ones paying for it. The transit system announced today, Wednesday, January 24th, that bus and train fares will increase by 15% this July.
Following this summer’s increase, fares will continue to increase an additional 3% each year.
According to the NJ Transit, the agency is entering its fifth consecutive year of below pre-COVID ridership levels, which has resulted in a reduction of nearly $2 billion in farebox revenue for the agency. And while the agency received billions of dollars of federal COVID relief funding, that money has been almost completely exhausted.
The agency has estimated a $119 million deficit for the next fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025. And though they’re planning to reduce that deficit through a combination of $44 million in cost reductions and $52 million in revenue enhancements, the fare hike will close the remaining budget gap of $106.6 million.
NJ Transit will hold ten scheduled public hearings beginning Monday, March 4, 2024, through Friday, March 8, 2024 to allow the public the opportunity to learn more about the proposed NJ Transit fare increase and offer comments before the plan is considered by the NJ Transit Board of Directors.
Members of the public may also submit comments online here.
The NJ Transit fare increase would be the first since Governor Phil Murphy took office six years ago. More information can be found here.