For immediate release: May 11, 2009
Tri-State Transportation Campaign Statement on New Jersey's FY2010 Budget Hearings
Today the New Jersey State Senate discussed the state's transportation budget for fiscal year 2010. The news is not good for transit riders.
Just a few weeks ago, NJ Transit announced that there would be no fare increases and only minor service cuts through its fiscal year 2010, which ends on June 30 of next year.
However, dramatically low revenue projections from the Office of Legislative Services indicate the agency may not be able to live up to its promise. OLS is predicting a revenue shortfall of $1.5 - $2 billion below that anticipated in Governor Corzine's budget address, so struggling Departments will need to further pare down already austere budgets.
As the Legislature considers the proposed 2010 budget, Tri-State urges them not to sacrifice necessary services and penalize transit riders.
The Governor's budget already cuts $62 million from NJ Transit, a 17% reduction in state operating aid. The main funding sources of NJ Transit's current (FY09) operating budget are $755M from fares, $358M in state subsidies, and a $356M transfer from the capital budget. The capital to operating transfer is a bad habit and will undermine the agency's ability to expand and maintain its system. This, along with rapid growth in transit use over the past few decades, indicates that the agency needs more, not less, state support.
In 2007, a $60 million deficit in NJ Transit's operating budget led to a 10% fare increase. An NJ Transit fare increase would be the fourth since 2002, while the state gasoline tax has not increased since 1988. At 10.5 cents per gallon, it is the third lowest in the nation. That hardly makes sense for a state that is reducing congestion and encouraging business growth through improved transit service.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign urges the legislature to work to reduce the budget's impacts on the state's transit system and the riders and businesses that depend on it.
Tri-State Transportation Campaign is a non-profit organization working towards a more balanced, transit-friendly and equitable transportation system in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.