New Jersey Transit will not have to implement any fare hikes if everything in Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed budget is adopted, a senior administration official said.
The $38.6 billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year, which starts July 1, calls for $100 million more for the state’s transit agency budget, though it would amount to a net revenue increase of $25 million because most of the proposed funds are just money that would not be diverted away from NJ Transit’s budget.
“The $50 million that is not being diverted from the general fund stays in the capital fund, so it’s not like that goes away,” said a senior administration official. “You’re keeping $50 million in the capital fund [and] adding money to the general fund.”
NJ Transit has faced considerable scrutiny over the past year as it was marred by delays, cancellations of trains and cars filled to capacity, all due to equipment failures or staffing shortages, creating what many critics called the “Summer of Hell Part 2.”
The agency abruptly took several of its routes offline last fall, including the Atlantic City Line, to install a federally-mandated emergency braking system called positive train control by the end of 2018. The move prompted more stringent oversight requirements of the agency.
Murphy responded that many of the issues stemmed from underfunding by his predecessor, Chris Christie, and frequent raiding of NJ Transit’s budget.
Both 2019’s allocation of $382.5 million, and the proposed 2020 allocation of $407.5 million would fix that, his administration said.