NJ Transit fare hikes unlikely by at least 2024
TRENTON – Between federal funds from three rounds of coronavirus aid and a growing pool of money from increased tolls from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, fares are unlikely to increase on NJ Transit in the next three years, according to the head of the agency.
Kevin Corbett, president and chief executive officer of the NJT, told the Assembly’s Budget Committee in a hearing on Monday that the projection of maintaining current service levels through fiscal 2024 also counts on a return progressive ridership already underway.
“This should help us if other public funding is stable and ridership returns in a predictable way as we see it – we have conservative estimates – but if there is no fourth wave or something like that,” then we should be fine for the next few years without an increase in tariffs, ”Corbett said.
Corbett said the agency projects ridership will return to 60% of pre-COVID levels by the end of this year and to around 75% next year. He said this was linked to vaccination rates and the likelihood that schools and businesses will reopen more fully in September.
NJ Transit’s total resources in FY2022 are expected to reach a record $ 2.65 billion, a 9% increase from the current year, greatly aided by federal reimbursements of transportation costs. eligible operations.
“Beyond financial aid, the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2022, which includes a significant increase in funding for Turnpike, paves the way for more consistent, sustainable and reliable funding for NJ Transit,” said Corbett said.
NJ Transit is reportedly spending another $ 362 million next year from its capital budget on preventative maintenance which is expected to come from its operating budget, although it is $ 461 million this year.
Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said “the real key” to NJ Transit’s future finances will be money coming from the Turnpike Authority – $ 325 million in fiscal year 2022 and possibly increasing to 525 million dollars a year.
The amount of Turnpike funds that will be available in fiscal 2023 will increase to $ 746 million as the annual payout will be supplemented by funds from 2021 and 2022 that have been set aside.
“People are talking about finding a dedicated funding source. I definitely think he’s one of them, ”said Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “And I think that will be a big help for Transit as they recover and start to see their passengers come back and their ridership revenues increase.”
“That’s all we promised to do, to ensure that Transit gets every penny of the toll revenue we promised them during the toll hearings. And I hope that will help them again reduce their reliance on a working capital transfer and that will decrease over time. “
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said using the Turnpike toll money for NJ Transit is no diversion.
“You run an entire transportation system in New Jersey. You manage roads, bridges, buses, trains. You have ports and airports. It is a busy state. And we are running financially constrained capital programs, ”she said. “But if we don’t all work together, if we don’t look at this system holistically, we have no chance of being successful.”
Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the transfer of $ 82 million from the Clean Energy Fund to NJ Transit is expected to continue, as the money helps the agency meet demands for electric bus and train services and d ” an autonomous electricity network.
“When it started, it could have been more of a diversion. Today I would say it’s more of a grant, ”she said. “… We’re actually going to use the clean energy money now to create clean energy with our buses.
Michael Symons is the State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at [email protected].
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