From the Record:
Fares for NJ Transit buses and trains would increase 10 percent this summer under a plan proposed Tuesday by the agency’s staff.
The new revenue would close a projected $60 million budget deficit for 2008, the same gap the agency faced in 2005, when it raised fares an average of 9.9 percent. Executive Director George D. Warrington, who has announced his resignation, said he would try to cut costs but indicated a fare increase is almost certain.
“We have taken out more than $75 million in costs over the last several years, leaving very little left to squeeze without impacting service,” Warrington said.
An increase would come at a time when NJ Transit is adding riders and increasing bus and train service. Transit officials said that reflects good public policy. But expanding service costs more money than it makes.
In a state without a dedicated funding source for mass transit, fare hikes are likely to become more frequent, Warrington said. NJ Transit will probably require a modest increase every couple years, even if the state increases its subsidy of $300 million, officials said.
“It is going to be very difficult to increase the fares of people who are doing the right thing — getting on a train, sitting often in crowded cars, and going to work the hard way,” Pringle said, “when we pass people who are stopped in traffic in SUVs sitting alone.”