This year NJ Transit, Westchester County, and the MTA raised fares, approved a fare hike, and are about to approve a fare hike, respectively. As ridership on all three transit networks hits historic levels, all three have announced plans for increased service in 2008, which is certainly the least they could do for cash-strapped commuters.
The MTA, which will likely approve its fare and toll hike package tomorrow, increased service on the L and 7 trains this week and announced that next year it would increase service on the 1, 4, 6, and G; extend the hours of operation on the B and W; extend the routes of the B71 and B77 buses; and create a new bus running from the Lower East Side to East Midtown. However, the latter set of improvements would not take effect until at least mid-2008, and only if the MTA’s financial situation does not worsen.
Westchester’s Bee-Line, which has seen soaring ridership after the introduction of MetroCard in April and projects a 12.7% increase in ridership for 2008, announced it would add service on seven routes. Interestingly, the cost of these improvements exceeds the $500,000 raised by the agency’s recently approved cash fare increase. (Presumably, the difference will be made up by increased MetroCard revenue due to the MTA’s fare hike, or by the county, which increased Bee-Line aid by about $6 million in its recently passed 2008 budget.)
NJ Transit, which raised fares in June and announced all-time ridership records last week, also plans improvements. In addition to already implemented improvements like the doubling of service on the Pascack Valley line, the agency will open a bus/rail intermodal center in Wayne next month that will serve the Montclair/Boonton commuter rail line, several existing bus routes, and a new express bus running from the intermodal center to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.