TBT: NJ Transit Lacks Dedicated Funding, and That’s Nothing New

Image: Joseph Cutrufo/TSTC

MTR reported a few months ago that unlike other large US transit systems, New Jersey Transit doesn’t have dedicated funding. That means the system has to rely heavily on fares paid by Garden State transit commuters.

Given the headaches NJ Transit riders have been dealing with lately, you probably wouldn’t be surprised if you read this editorial in today’s Bergen Record:

In a densely populated state like New Jersey, buses and trains aren’t luxuries; they’re necessities. They give poor people who can’t afford a car a way of getting to work. They give students a chance to go to college. They give commuters a means of getting into New York or Philadelphia without having to battle rush-hour traffic. They save energy, time, and money — promoting a whole host of public policies in the process.

It is manifestly unfair to place our mass transit burdens entirely on the shoulders of those who ride our buses and trains, yet that’s exactly what we’re doing. Slowly but surely, we are taking public money away from mass transit and forcing riders to pick up the tab. Riders are already paying 55 percent of New Jersey’s mass transit costs —  well above the national average.

Thing is, this didn’t appear in today’s Bergen Record. It was published on March 19, 1981. The only difference is that instead of riders covering 55 percent of NJ Transit’s operating costs, today they pick up 52 percent. Progress.

3 Comments on "TBT: NJ Transit Lacks Dedicated Funding, and That’s Nothing New"

  1. Clark Morris | May 11, 2017 at 5:04 pm |

    Given that the riders are the primary beneficiaries, why shouldn’t they pay most of the cost of the ride. Up until the 1960s the farebox covered the costs of operation, maintenance, insurance and buying new buses. Maybe we need to change the conditions that cause transit to be a drain on the taxpayer. The riders picking up less of the tab is NOT progress, it is retrogress.

  2. Keith Miller | May 19, 2017 at 12:40 pm |

    Riders are *not* the only beneficiaries of public transit. Each passenger on a train or bus is one that is not in a car, further clogging up the roads and putting wear and tear on the pavements and bridges. However, the opposite isn’t completely true: roads and bridges receive a large subsidy from the “general fund” (i.e., taxpayer money, above and beyond the various gas tax revenues), so transit users are funding roads and bridges (which train riders do not benefit from). Maybe more roads should be tolled so that only the people that benefit from them pay for their upkeep?

  3. Clark Morris | May 24, 2017 at 7:06 pm |

    Remember that the roads and bridges are also used by buses and bicycles.

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