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NJ Transit Votes “Yes” to first Fare increase in 5 years effective October 1st

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The board also adopted a fare and service plan which includes an average 9% increase in fares

NJ TRANSIT ADOPTS FISCAL YEAR 2016 OPERATING AND CAPITAL BUDGETS

NEWARK, NJ — The NJ TRANSIT Board of Directors today adopted a Fiscal Year 2016 (FY 2016) operating budget and capital program that supports continued investments in infrastructure and equipment to maintain the system in a state of good repair and enhance the overall customer experience.

The board also adopted a fare and service plan which includes an average 9% increase in fares, with no customer paying more than 9.4% after rounding, and modest changes for rail and bus service.

“NJ TRANSIT is moving forward with a balanced budget that reflects a laser-like look at individual business lines in order to maximize efficiencies and maintain a safe transportation system,” NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim, said. “As transit professionals, we owed our customers and stakeholders a good-faith effort to present them a solid plan that had the least impact on our riders.  After much hard work, I am confident we delivered on that.”

The Board adopted a $2.116 billion operating budget and a $2.099 billion capital program for the fiscal year that started July 1, 2015.

Nearly half of the revenue in the FY 2016 operating budget comes from fares ($1.005 billion), supported by a comparable amount from state and federal program reimbursements ($961.8 million) with the balance from a combination of commercial revenues ($115.2 million) and state operating assistance ($33.2 million).

The capital program funds continued state-of-good-repair investments in transit stations and infrastructure supports an ongoing fleet modernization program and advances service reliability, safety and technology initiatives.

Operating Budget

The FY 2016 operating budget reflects an increase of state funding along with a stable level of federal and other reimbursements, which will enable NJ TRANSIT to meet the agency’s projected expenses this fiscal year.  Approximately 59 percent of the operating budget is dedicated to labor and fringe benefits costs.  Other significant expenses include contracted transportation services, fuel and power and materials, which together comprise approximately 27 percent of the operating budget.

This year’s operating budget reflects a $76.7 million (8.3 percent) growth in passenger revenue, based on the fare adjustment and ridership trends. Overall passenger revenue and commercial revenue represents approximately 53 percent of the total FY 2016 operating program.

Capital Program

The FY 2016 capital program continues to prioritize investment in infrastructure to maintain an overall state of good repair, enhance safety and reliability, and improve the overall customer experience on the system.

The program continues to invest in upgrades to the Northeast Corridor (NEC),
the agency’s most utilized rail line.  The NEC is allocated $61 million in FY 2016 as part of NJ TRANSIT’s ten-year, $1 billion Northeast Corridor investment program.

Highlights of the program include $82 million in rail station improvements:  $27 million for Summit Station improvements, $14 million for Elizabeth Station enhancements, $6 million for Perth Amboy Station improvements and high-level platform construction, $4 million for Newark Penn Station upgrades, $4 million to reconstruct Lyndhurst Station to make it accessible to persons with disabilities and $2 million for New Brunswick Station improvements.

The program also supports continued investment in rolling stock renewal, with $87 million invested in rail rolling stock improvements and $40 million toward the purchase of new buses.

In addition, the program is undertaking approximately $913 million in major capital projects that will help advance NJ TRANSIT’s resiliency to extreme weather events.

NJ TRANSITGRID, which will serve as an electrical micro-grid capable of supplying highly reliable power when the centralized power grid is compromised, is being funded through this effort as well as other projects including Delco Lead Train Safe Haven Storage and Service Restoration, Hoboken Long Slip Fill and Rail Enhancement, Train Controls Resiliency, and Raritan River Drawbridge Replacement.

Funding is also provided for technology and security upgrades, local programs, and rail, bus and light rail infrastructure improvements.

Approximately 42 percent of the capital budget comes from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Sandy Resiliency funds, with the balance coming from federal and other sources including 22% from the Transportation Trust Fund (TTF).

Fare and Service Adjustments

Throughout the past five years, NJ TRANSIT held the line on fare increases while maintaining high quality services and implementing new customer amenities including MyTix, Departurevision, and MyBus Now.

However, costs such as contract services – Access Link, the organization’s paratransit service, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and private carriers – and workers’ compensation, general liability insurance, healthcare and benefits, and pensions have steadily risen. As a result, NJ TRANSIT was left with a significant budget gap.

Although NJ TRANSIT identified more than $40 million in reductions in overtime, fuel savings, energy and vehicle parts efficiencies, the agency still faced an approximate $56 million budget gap for the 2016 fiscal year. To close the gap, fare and service adjustments were proposed and now approved. The fare adjustment will go into effect on October 1st.

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Readers ask is the Garage for Commuter Parking or local business?

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A parking garage that close to the train station and bus stop would be sufficient to serve commuters. The street level spaces near the should all be limited to 3 hors for the benefit of CBD businesses and their customers. Oh, and parking should be free on Sundays. Okay, now someone else can be king for a day…

The chamber wants it for increase parking for the business but you say it for the commuters. Can’t have it both way. And if you think that the commuter are going to get off the train and eat and shop in Ridgewood I don’t think so. Commuter just want to get home after a long day. On a side not if they get off the train after 5:30 they couldn’t shop anyway all the store are closed. Which is it?

If it is meant to be a place for long-term commuter parking, then I can see a better chance of it working. For this to happen, the existing all-day parking bays at/near the train station and the bus station will need to be changed to meters that only allow short-term parking intended for shoppers and diners.

The parking garage under consideration would be constructed across the street from Our Lady if Mount Carmel Church. Has this location been determined to be the best? What happened to the lot across the street from TD Bank on Franklin Avenue? Wasn’t that lot condemned for the purpose of erecting a parking garage? And wasn’t a bond issued at the time that we never used to build the structure?

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Readers say at the end of the Taxpayers will be on the hook for the garage while business,developers and NJT will all benefit from it

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Readers say at the end of the Taxpayers will be on the hook for the garage while business,developers and NJT will all benefit from it

My questions:

1. What happens if parking revenues fall short of expectations?

2. What is the proposed parking fee structure for the new garage?

These are very important questions and I will explain why. For the first one, the answer is pretty obvious. The Village taxpayers will be on the hook for it as the construction bond cannot be reneged on just because you hoped there would be enough revenue. The second one will absolutely dictate the success or failure of the entire project. Any fee structure that is more than street parking will completely disincentivize most people from using the garage. They will circle the blocks until a street space frees up, or they will go somewhere else to eat/shop. As I’ve stated before, this garage will represent the parking location of absolute last resort, and I predict it will be viewed in years to come as one of those “what were they thinking” buildings.

Its called a shell game. money from the parking revenue is now used to support the town budget. money from the new garage if a surplus will be used to pay the loan off on the new garage. If revenue from the new garage isn’t adequate the town (I mean taxpayers) will have to make up the shortfall.

Or should the Village tax the CBD landlords for the garage or local businesses, their the ones that are going to profit from it.

Maybe the developers should pay or NJT ?
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Last Call for the Rockland Bound 12:45am 1601?

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Fate of late night Rockland train to be decided this week

Khurram Saeed, ksaeed@lohud.com12:28 p.m. EDT July 12, 2015

NJ Transit needs to close a $56 million budget gap.

Rockland residents will likely find out this week if they’ll still be able to take a late night Pascack Valley Line train on most days to get home from New York City.

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Transit board is expected to decide whether to eliminate the 12:45 a.m. train out of Hoboken, N.J. (1601), which runs Monday through Friday. That would leave those who work or stay late in the city scrambling to catch the 10:42 p.m. departure from Hoboken.

But people who like to spend Friday or Saturday nights in the city can take some consolation: Train 2101, which departs Hoboken at 12:45 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, is not part of the package of potential service cuts, meaning they can return to stations in Pearl River, Nanuet and Spring Valley.

If approved, NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said the service would end in September, while a nine percent fare increase would take effect in October. Most train riders in Rockland, except those who travel from Suffern, wouldn’t be impacted by the proposed increase since they pay their fares to Metro-North Railroad.

NJ Transit needs to close a $56 million budget gap. Eliminating Train 1601 — which serves about 40 daily riders — would save it $420,000 this fiscal year. Roughly half of those riders get off at one of three stations in Rockland, Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Aaron Donovan said.

http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2015/07/12/rockland-late-train-vote/30047985/

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How many NJ Transit commuters have six-figure incomes and receive 9 percent salary increases?

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NJ Transit learns from best to waste money

To the Editor:

Not that long ago, top NJ Transit officials were forced to resign when the decisions they made to leave trains and locomotives exposedduring Hurricane Sandy resulted in $100 million in equipment damages.

Ronnie Hakim, the former New Jersey Turnpike Authority director, was brought on board as executive director to fill the void. The turnpike authority had an overtime scandal following 2013-2104 snowstorms. Apparently that wasn’t a deterrent to Hakim becoming a top NJ Transit official. It might even have worked in her favor: She could show the boys how it’s done.

Maybe you read a more recent article about NJ Transit. They have 1,000 employees making six-figure salaries. Excuse me — that’s 1,001 such employees  — because Michael Drewniak, Gov. Chris Christie’s former press secretary, just landed a job at NJ Transit paying $147,700. That policy-and-planning job was newly created just for him and didn’t require any transit experience. It’s just another made-to-order Trenton patronage job paid for with our transit dollars.

Does anyone in Trenton have oversight responsibility so they can require that  NJ Transit officials spend transit funds on actual transit projects? Or, will the revenue from the recent 9 percent fare hike provide additional patronage opportunities?

How many NJ Transit commuters have six-figure incomes and receive 9 percent salary increases?

What’s your guess?

CAROL RHODES

Barnsboro

 

http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/07/nj_transit_learns_from_best_to_waste_money_letter.html

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NJ Transit’s plan to get you to work should a Hudson River tunnel close

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By Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

If a Hudson River rail tunnel has to be shut down for repairs, NJ Transit officials say they’d move commuters using a plan similar to the one enacted after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

In October, Amtrak officials warned the two trans-Hudson tunnels would have to beclosed for one year at a time to fix flood damage from Sandy.

“We have contingencies to service those customers who would be displaced, “said Jennifer M. Nelson, an NJ Transit spokeswoman.

If one of the 105-year-old tunnels is closed, the number of trains to and from New York would be squeezed from 24 to six per hour. Close to 90,000 riders a day commute to Penn Station in New York and, of those, 30 percent would likely work remotely from home or another location, she said.

 

http://www.nj.com/traffic/index.ssf/2015/07/nj_transits_plan_to_get_you_to_work_should_a_hudson_river_tunnel_close.html

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NJ Transit engineers vote to strike, if needed

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ULY 9, 2015, 8:22 AM    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, JULY 9, 2015, 8:23 AM
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Transit engineers have voted to strike if their contract dispute is not resolved.

However, union members are hoping the federal government will create a panel to help bring about an agreement. Union officials say the creation of the board would be enough to forestall a strike for the immediate future.

http://www.northjersey.com/news/nj-transit-engineers-vote-to-strike-if-needed-1.1371420

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Just another editorial on the TTF that fails to address where all the money went

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TTF crisis hurts more than roads and bridges

Editors note : once again another editorial that failed to address :
 
1- what happened to the presidents stimulus money ?
2- where has the TTF money been spent?
3- why does road work cost so much in New Jersey
4- why haven’t we audited the TTF ?
5- we already have enormous revenues from tolls and taxes how is it being spent?
 
answer any of these questions and you may get some public support for “solutions”June 28, 2015We were disappointed to learn earlier this month that, despite overwhelming opposition from riders and public officials, NJ Transit will be proceeding with the planned fare hikes and service cuts it proposed earlier this year.The action is unavoidable, says NJ Transit, because the agency has a $56 million budget gap; to close it, fares will jump 9 percent, on average, and rail and bus routes will be cut back.This is bad news for commuters, no doubt about it, but it’s bad news for business owners, too. Earlier this month, NJ.com published a report on the median property values along NJ Transit rail lines, and unsurprisingly, people are willing to pay quite a price to live near access to employment hubs such as Newark, Morristown, New Brunswick, Princeton and others. That gives companies incentive to locate in these areas, which gives developers incentive to make investments in these towns, which in turn brings more businesses — especially smaller ones — and powers downtown revitalization. Towns such as Summit and Montclair would be a much tougher sell for commuters if they lacked reliable rail transportation.This is just another example of New Jersey’s poor transportation planning coming home to roost. The depleted Transportation Trust Fund, starved by an insufficient gas tax, has made major rail investment an afterthought. Raising fares is only going to push more cars on the road at rush hour, exacerbating what many consider to be the Garden State’s worst problem, and will harm investment in rail towns by developers and businesses. No one likes a tax hike, but a small increase in the gas tax is preferable to another big transit fare hike. It would be nice if legislators wised up and ensured this is the last increase for the foreseeable future.

Part of the reason we’re here is poor policy. No public transit agency is going to break even, much less turn a profit, but NJ Transit has often been a victim of not getting what it needs from the state, combined with its own share of dunderheaded decisions, such as rail car storage during Sandy. The state must take a hard look at the impact rail service has on municipalities when it thinks about funding infrastructure upgrades or new station construction. And that goes for bus and light rail projects, too — the tremendous impact of the Hudson-Bergen light rail line on property values was long ago demonstrated. Given that the only new jobs being talked about in New Jersey are at casinos or megamalls, professionals are likely to need reliable access to New York to find the work they want — and they’re paying for that privilege.

http://www.njbiz.com/article/20150628/NJBIZ01/306299994/editorial-ttf-crisis-hurts-more-than-roads-and-bridges

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Strains on mass transit will get even worse as population in metro area grows, experts say

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BY NOLAN HICKS , DAN RIVOLI

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Sunday, June 28, 2015, 2:23 AM

All aboard for more mass transit misery.

New projections show the New York region’s population should reach 20.5 million people by 2020, further taxing the region’s already overcrowded and cash-strapped subway, bus and train systems.

The projections — calculated by the mapping service ESRI for The Associated Press — estimate the region is growing at a clip of almost 100,000 people annually. Long Island, Westchester County and much of northern New Jersey are included in the metro area.

The importance of these systems can’t be overstated: 31% of metro area commuters use transit to get to work, the U.S. Census estimates.

As the region’s population booms, the strains on mass transit are increasingly evident.

Overcrowding was the single biggest cause of delays on the New York subway system during the last year, MTA stats show. Ridership has also grown on NJ Transit and the PATH trains.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/growing-population-transit-worse-experts-article-1.2273743

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NJ Transit labor strife could hike fares further

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Riders on NJ Transit are already hopping mad about a proposed 9 percent fare increase. Hundreds of them have bombarded the agency since April with angry emails, letters and in-person testimonials opposing the move, which will fill a $56 million budget gap if approved three weeks from now by NJ Transit’s board members.

But what if this fare increase is only the beginning?  (Maag/The Record)

http://www.northjersey.com/news/nj-transit-labor-strife-could-hike-fares-further-1.1362166