WOOD-RIDGE, N.J. — New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wants to give NJ Transit $100 million dollars more than what they got last year. The governor says he’s doing it to avoid a fare hike.
"We need to make this budget investment," said Gov. Murphy. "If we can get this increase of investment in NJ Transit – and we’ll know in the next few months – then there will are no fare hike for the next fiscal year."
NJ Transit commuters have endured repeated fare hikes in recent years, even as services dwindled.
Entire rail lines and other rail services were suspended while the agency rushed to meet a federal deadline for safety upgrades. A lack of hiring squeezed personnel levels so hard that employee call-outs triggered train cancellations and long delays.
"I live on the Raritan Valley Line," said Janna Chernetz, a commuter and commuter issues advocate with the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. "And that has yet to be replaced," she said.
But the governor says a cash injection of $100 million will help to bring it back, and more. The increase would bring the state's total contribution to the transit agency to $407.5 million.
This money will be used to help fund shuttered train lines, including the Atlantic City line and the Princeton Dinky line; it will pay for the hiring and training of train engineers and bus operators, help complete the final phases of the federally required emergency braking system Positive Train Control, and it will help the agency to end cash diversions.
"Diversions are budget gimmicks quite frankly," said Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen/Passaic). One example of this is taking money from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority to fund trains.
The $100 million NJ Transit injection is not a done deal. The governor's budget will still be subjected to months of negotiation with lawmakers.
They must come to an agreement by June 30 to avoid a state government shutdown.