The free ride is over for some NJ Transit employees.

Flickr User Takahi Rock
Flickr User Takahi Rock

The agency's board on Monday decided that non union workers and retirees won't be able to ride for free for non-business purposes come January.

The board voted to end free rides for about 1,800 non-union workers and roughly 700 retirees.

About 30 workers and members of the public spent about 90 minutes telling the board why they should keep their passes.

"The financial hardship on me and my family will be huge" said one employee.

"We are the eyes and ears of this place...I ride the bus everyday...and whether I'm working or not, I still help customers and assist in any way that I can" said another worker.

"This will negatively affect company morale, for both non-union and union employees" said one employee.

But Jim Simpson, state Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Chair says the state simply doesn't have the money.

"The state is in dire fiscal straits and the agency is having a very difficult time moving forward, this is the way the economy is...if you look at what's happening everywhere, whether its the public or private sector, we are just trying to keep this place viable so that the people who work here have jobs."

Simpson says similar measures have been approved by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, Delaware River Port Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"Look at what we have done across the landscape...we have taken EZ passes away, etc...its just the time now, we can't do it anymore because we can't afford it."

The agency said the move will save $1.6 million per year.