TRENTON – Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, D-Bergen and Hudson and Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, made the following statement today in regards to NJ Transit’s public hearings over a potential 15% fare hike:
“As Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I know just how much work and money go into maintaining our transportation infrastructure. New Jersey Transit is a vital part of this infrastructure which moves hundreds of thousands of residents around the State each day. As painful as it may be, I understand that it is inevitable that fares for our commuter rails, buses and light rails will increase. However, we must do everything in our power to make that increase as small and equitable as possible.
For many people, a 15% fare hike is far too large an increase, and I am one of those people. Those who use our public transportation system do it for many reasons – to avoid rush hour traffic, to help keep the environment clean or even to simply have extra time to catch up on work, the news or lost sleep. But the majority of riders only use NJ Transit because it is convenient and affordable. For many New Jersey residents, a 15% increase in fares will make trains and buses an unaffordable choice and force them back into their cars and onto the roads.
“Driving commuters away from public transportation may be just as costly to the State and NJ Transit as not addressing the budget shortfalls would be. Not only would it lead to fewer passengers and less revenue, but it would also lead to more wear and tear on our roads and a decrease in overall productivity for our citizens.
“We must exhaust every means of cutting costs and finding alternate revenue sources before we even consider a fare increase of this magnitude. The residents of New Jersey will accept a modest increase in fares but they must know that this money is being spent as efficiently as possible and see that it is going toward providing the best service possible.
“I hope that New Jersey Transit will proceed with all due caution as it prepares for the coming years and presents a fare increase proposal that is reasonable and not a cent more than necessary.”