New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced today that there will be no fare increases for NJ Transit riders in the fiscal year 2021 state budget.
Murphy made the announcement at a ceremony in Kearny this morning for engineers who completed training to work for NJ Transit. Murphy did not say how he plans to fund NJ Transit for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. The agency is facing a large budget shortfall, and there is no dedicated funding source.
He said the fares will remain the same for the third year in a row. He also bashed former governor Chris Christie’s administration for large fare hikes and declining service. During Christie’s tenure as governor, NJ Transit fares increased 36 percent, according to the Murphy administration.
“We are on the path to the resurgence of NJ Transit as a system that commuters can rely on and trust and I want to make sure that riders are not further burdened while we continue working to improve the system,” Murphy said.
Murphy’s administration has made some progress adding more engineers and finishing a critical phase of positive train control implementation. Yet the agency continues to struggle with service delays and train cancellations. Frustrated commuters regularly complain about the delays on social media, and are skeptical about claims that service is improving. Lawmakers have formed a special committee to investigate the agency’s troubles.
Seven trainees will be graduating in the upcoming weeks after they complete the final requirements and certifications necessary to become locomotive engineers with NJ Transit.
Today, we celebrate another class of future locomotive engineers who will improve safety, reliability, and services for the hundreds of thousands of New Jersey residents who ride NJ TRANSIT every day,” said Murphy.
“All of these soon-to-be locomotive engineers are on the verge of completing a rigorous, 78-week-long training program,” said NJ Transit President and CEO Kevin Corbett. “For our customers, that means fewer train cancellations as a result of engineer availability. Over the two-year period between 2019 and 2020, we will graduate seven classes of locomotive engineers – the same number of classes that graduated in the previous five years combined. And beginning this year, we are starting to see real net gains in our ranks of locomotive engineers, thanks to an unprecedented effort to recruit, train, and hire these essential members of our railroad crew.”
The graduating class will bring the total number of new engineers that have joined NJ Transit since late 2018 to 169, according to NJ Transit. The next engineer training class is set to graduate in April.