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Not On Board For Fare Hikes

Biz BriefsNJ Transit held a series of hearings on its proposed bus and train fare increases last week. Among the most vocal opponents was a coalition of environmental, public interest and pro-transportation groups. They appealed to Gov. Jon Corzine to pony up $60 million from the state budget to allow NJ Transit to avert the increase.

“Governor Corzine claims to be a champion of the working class and the environment, yet a fare hike would be bad for both,” said Damien Newton, New Jersey coordinator of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Newton said the increase would place an unfair burden on urban communities.

The Sierra Club, the New Jersey Environmental Federation and the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group said a fare hike would also run counter to the governor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These would increase if more people abandoned public transit and returned to using automobiles.

The proposed increase would be the third fare hike in the last five years for a total jump of 33 percent—twice the rate of inflation—according to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Meanwhile, the state’s gas tax and tolls have not been raised in more than 15 years.

The 9.6 percent average system-wide increase is scheduled to take effect June 1. The agency’s last increase—averaging 11.5 percent system wide—was implemented in July 2005.

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