NJ Transit recently imposed a 9 percent fare hike and service cuts to help close a $60 million operating budget hole this year. But these tactics might not do the trick next year.
The agency could be looking at a budget gap of close to $400 million in 2017. This is on top of the need to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars ($350 to 450 million) each year from its capital budget just to meet operating needs. What else will NJ Transit have to face next fiscal year?
- A 2016 expiration of a $295 million cash infusion from New Jersey Turnpike toll revenue previously earmarked for the ARC project.
- A potential $40 to 70 million increase in NJ Transit’s budget due to a pending resolution of an outstanding labor dispute.
- An annual increase of $20 million more NJ Transit will pay to Amtrak under a new cost allocation formula imposed on all seven states that use portions of the Amtrak-owned Northeast Corridor.
Commissioner Fox’s abrupt announcement that he would be leaving his post by month’s end is bad news for a TTF/NJT resolution. The Commissioner was quite vocal about the transportation funding crisis for both capital and operation funding, despite assertions to the contrary from Governor Christie.
The legislature failed to thwart the fare hikes this time around. With legislative elections happening in November and no concrete deal put forward with any fervor by lawmakers, the gap between the train and the platform isn’t the only one that transit riders should be wary of. There’s a pretty big funding gap, and it’s approaching the station at breakneck speed.