Report from the Chair: Jan./Feb. 2014

Everybody knows that New York’s Penn Station (NYP) is crowded with commuters during peak-commuting hours, and we have a way to reduce demand for those scarce seats that will not require any capital investment. We call on New Jersey Transit to restore reduced “off-peak” rail fares, and to implement fare policies that will make it less expensive to go to New York through Hoboken Terminal.

Commissioner James S. Simpson has called for the restoration of off-peak rail fares several times, and we strongly agree. As the official representative of our riders and our communities, we continue to request a meaningful opportunity to participate in decision-making about these fare policies.

We objected strenuously when NJT eliminated off-peak rail fares in 2010, a change that removed an incentive for riders to travel at times when there is enough train and station capacity to accommodate them easily. The next fare increase could come soon, and it will provide an opportunity to switch to a fare structure that will promote efficient use of our rail system. It would not be good for our riders, or for NJT, if the current fare policies continue. One important step toward restoring a discounted off-peak rail fare is to refrain from raising off-peak fares when peak-hour and commuter fares are increased. The last fare increase was high for commuters and peak-hour riders: 25%. It was massive and unprecedented for off-peak rail riders: 47% and as high as 64% for some fare zones.

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