On July 11, NJ Transit’s Board approved an operating budget of $1.94 billion that envisions no fare increase this year, making more than 3 years since the agency last increased fares. The last increase, in May, 2010, averaged a whopping 22%t, including an average of 25% for heavy-rail riders—but this average hides an incredible increase of 47% for occasional riders, due to the elimination at that time of the off-peak round-trip discount ticket, plus the 25% increase on one-way tickets that occasional riders are now forced to use. Executive Director Jim Weinstein said the no-increase streak is likely to continue, according to reporting by Jim Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (July 12). Weinstein noted that while a number of labor agreements need to be negotiated, “there’s no apparent reason why we should have to raise fares in the foreseeable future.”
The Board also approved a $1.23 billion capital budget that includes a new rail station and track loop at North Brunswick on the Northeast Corridor, begins work on replacement of the Portal drawbridge over the Hackensack River on the approach to New York Penn Station, and funds reconstruction work at Newark Penn Station and at the Elizabeth station.
Cynics note that there are seldom fare increases in a gubernatorial election year, such as 2013, but often they seem to happen after such elections.