NJ Transit fares have increased and so have delays, report shows
A recent Bloomberg analysis of data finds as funding for mass transit has been cut, more New Jersey Transit trains are breaking down, leaving passengers angry and frustrated.
The report finds even after a significant fare increase of 9 percent last summer, NJ Transit has been spending billions of dollars from its capital account to pay for increased salaries, health benefits and other costs, instead of using the money to buy new equipment and upgrade equipment it already has.
“On both the trains and the buses people continue to be extremely frustrated, the amount of stress and expense is at an all-time high,” said Michael Phelan, co-founder of the New Jersey Commuters Action Network.
He said because of poor on time performance and delays, some commuters jobs have been put at risk because they’re constantly arrive late to work.
“What’s really frustrating about this trend is much of it appears to be by design, I mean $275 million has been cut out of New Jersey Transit’s budget from the state. The state subsidy has gone down by $ 275 million dollars in the last 5 years, leaving them to make budget cuts, not invest year after year in equipment,” Phelan said.
He added it’s a very old system and it needs to constantly be maintained, but unfortunately “in the last five years this system has been getting held together with needle and thread,” he said.
Phelan said thing have gotten so bad that many commuters do their best to avoid scheduling meetings until after 11 a.m.
“We’ve got folks who if they’ve got to be in the city at 7 or 8 or even 9 a.m., they leave two, three, even four hours in advance,” he said. “You can sit on a bus or you can sit on a train in a tunnel for anywhere from one to two hours sometimes without even moving, and nobody tells you anything.”
He said the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund has to be replenished, and it can’t wait until even later this year, and a minor gas tax increase would make great strides at re-filling that fund.
“Getting people into mass transit is the way we need to go, but as New Jersey Transit continues to stumble and falter and have these delays, more and more people are choosing to get back on the highway and drive to work, which is the exact opposite of what needs to happen,” he said. “We’re talking about a major workforce - we’re the big economy, and we’re treating our transportation like it’s an inconvenience or something that would be nice to have, we’ve reached a point where we can no longer do that – our leaders need to step up and take care of this.”
Despite repeated requests for comment, an NJ Transit spokesperson declined to comment on the record about the situation.