Biz BriefsCiting holes in its $1.5 billion annual operating budget, NJ Transit last week proposed fare increases that would average 9.6 percent system wide. The increases, intended to help close a $60 million operating shortfall, would kick in June 1 following public hearings.
The increases, which would become the first in two years and the third since 2002, would raise fares for monthly interstate bus and rail passes by 9.9 percent. Discounts of 20 to 50 percent on bus passes, and 30 percent savings on one-way full rail fares, would continue. The new fare schedule would hold off-peak discount rates at their current level of 15 percent, and would raise one-way, one-zone bus fares from $1.25 to $1.35.
Dan Stessel, NJ Transit director of media relations, says the agency faces $45 million in annual cost increasesÂnot including expenses related to expanded servicesÂbased on a normal inflation rate of 3 percent. Expanded services include multilevel train cars, additional parking facilities, new bus routes and expanded rail stations.
The agency has record ridership levels that demand an additional $17 million in services on 240 bus routes, three light-rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines, says George D. Warrington, NJ TransitÂs executive director.
For the three-month period ending Sept. 30, ridership was an average of 854,450 trips per weekday, a 3.4 percent increase over the same period in 2005, according to Stessel.
The public will have a chance to comment at scheduled locations around the state. These may be found on the agencyÂs Web site at www.njtransit.com.
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