PANYNJ Lease Deal Fracas May Affect Fares

A controversial deal in which the Port Authority leased the North Bergen park-and-ride lot to NJ Transit for just one dollar a year may be coming undone, and it may have implications for NJ Transit fares, according to reporting in the Star-Ledger by Steve Strunsky (March 20).  The deal is under scrutiny because of conflicts-of-interest allegations involving Port Authority Chairman David Samson, whose law firm had been retained by NJ Transit to help maximize revenue from park-and-ride lots.

If the deal were evaluated according to the market value of the lot, NJ Transit might have to pay a lot more, monies that would have to be raised from NJT’s fare revenues.  The plot thickened when NJT’s chief of real estate and development, Michael Francois, said that NJT might consider privatizing its park-and-ride lots, leasing them to private operators.  This raised eyebrows of Port Authority directors, who said the PANYNJ might be interested in a cut of any rental income NJT would derive from renting out a lot that the PANYNJ owns and was providing to NJT essentially for free.