Facing a $300 million budget gap, NJ Transit has announced a series of proposed fare hikes and service cuts that are making commuters reel. A man who uses mass transit due to a sight impairment tells the Star-Ledger, "This is an absolute nightmare for all transit riders, and it must have been done with either intentional malice or reckless disregard for the mobility of people who don’t have automobiles. NJ Transit’s slogan is ‘The Way to Go.’ But Gov. (Chris) Christie is telling us that the automobile is the way to go."
The changes are about as bad as expected: Fares would go up by 25% for buses and subways (more details here, including how the off-peak hour round-trip discount for rail travel would be eliminated), at least two trains each are eliminated from each of the lines, and buses will be reduced on all lines (more details here).
NJ Transit executive director Jim Weinstein told the Star-Ledger, "We recognize that any increase is a burden for our customers, particularly during a recession. However, we have worked to keep local bus fares below the regional average and preserved some important discounts for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as for students and others who are among the most transit dependent." He also pointed out, "NJ TRANSIT is not the only transit agency facing this type of budget challenge. Four out of five transit agencies across the nation have seen decreases in funding sources, with many addressing the shortfalls through fare increases, service cuts, or a combination of both."