NEWARK, N.J. — For the second straight year, Governor James E. McGreevey’s budget calls for N.J. Transit fares remain at their current level.
"Public transportation must remain affordable for the hundreds of thousands of hard-working New Jerseyans who commute to work every day," McGreevey said. "This is an important addition to their quality of life – and yet another way we’re investing to keep New Jersey’s economy the strongest among the Northeastern states."
In keeping the fares the same this year, McGreevey decided to allocate an extra $85 million to N.J. Transit. These additional funds, combined with internal cost efficiencies, will let the agency provide increased commuter services such as Secaucus Junction and River Line, officials contend.
"Maintaining the line on fares for New Jersey commuters is important to the vitality of our public transportation system," said Jack Lettiere, State Department of Transportation Commissioner and Chairman of the N.J. Transit Board. "With Governor McGreevey’s support, we have accomplished this goal while preserving our ability to expand NJ Transit’s services, equipment and capabilities."
The Governor’s budget will also let N.J. Transit freeze the level of capital dollars it uses to offset operating costs. The Corporation has historically used capital funding to offset its day-to-day costs – a practice that should be phased out, according to a recommendation from the Blue Ribbon Transportation Commission. By providing enough funding to freeze the practice at its current level, the FY 2005 budget begins that needed reversal.
The Governor’s budget includes a capital program that will let N.J. Transit continue to invest in infrastructure needs, and in the Corporation’s ongoing improvements in customer service.
In 2003 N.J. Transit:
- Opened the Secaucus Junction Station, which links ten of New Jersey’s 11 commuter rail lines – a boon for more than 5,000 daily commuters.
- Expanded the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail System to 22nd Street in Bayonne.
- Opened a state-of-the-art rail operations center.
- Created "Go" teams – employees who help customers at major terminals during service interruptions.
- Installed signs with real-time train status information at major rail stations.
- Launched an online option to purchase monthly passes.
- Added 141 additional trains, with 92,000 more seats.
- Redeployed bus equipment to add more trips and seats on 14 bus routes.
- Added 1,242 new parking spaces – soon to be joined by another 6,500.
- Installed more than 35,000 concrete railroad ties and the replacement of more than 32,500 wood ties.
Commuters take more than 750,000 bus, rail and light trail trips on N.J. Transit every day.
N.J. Transit is the nation’s largest statewide public transportation system. It provides 752,600 daily trips on 238 bus routes, two light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 29 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.