NJ Transit fare hike: How much more could you pay starting Monday?

The board has given final approval to double-digit fare hikes for NJ Transit beginning on Monday.

The fare hike comes at a bad time for the agency, following at least three major travel disruptions in the past week. 

Here's what you need to know come Monday:

What is the fair hake?

NJ Transit plans to raise train and bus ticket fares by 15% on Monday, according to a proposal that was approved back in April. Fares will be raised by 3% each year after that. 


NJ Transit faces increasing delays ahead of proposed 15% fare hike

NJ Transit riders experienced major delays and cancelations nearly every day this week, less than a month before a 15% proposed rate hike is expected to go into effect.

The proposal calls for $96 million in cuts to help close a more than $100 million budget deficit. In addition to inflation, they say it has had to factor in contractual wage increases and more expensive health care. 

No fare would increase more than 15%, the agency said.

Why is there a fare hike? 

According to NJ Transit, ridership continues to lag pre-pandemic levels, saying the agency is entering the 5th year of ridership that will be below pre-COVID levels.

NJ Transit has been dealing with a massive drop in ridership since the beginning of the pandemic, also exhausting billions of dollars in federal aid.

Ridership has returned to about 80% of pre-pandemic levels, but officials said that's simply not enough to balance the budget.

How much more will it cost you?

The rates of the fare increases depend on the type of ticket. Here's how much it would cost NJ commuters once the hike happens: 

  • Bus (one zone local): $1.80
  • Bus (Jersey City to Port Authority): $4
  • Bus (Toms River to Port Authority): $24.40
  • Access Link base fare: $1.65
  • Newark Light Rail: $1.80
  • River Line: $1.80
  • Hudson-Bergen Light Rail: $2.55
  • Rail (Philadelphia to Pennsauken): $4.85
  • Rail (Princeton Junction to NY Penn): $18.40

The measure that was approved will also get rid of the FlexPass discount and limit the life of digital and paper tickets to 30 days from purchase.

Meanwhile, highlighted with the problems this past week is that any problems with Amtrak also grinds NJ transit service to a halt. That's because NJ Transit doesn't have its own rail system from Trenton to NYC and operates using tracks and signals operated by Amtrak.

While NJ Transit pays for it, transportation experts say they don't pay a lot, and that despite this past week, it's still a good deal for NJ Transit.

"I would say they're getting their money's worth because otherwise, New Jersey Transit wouldn't have a railroad," says Philip Plotch, principal researcher at Eno Center for Transportation. "They wouldn't be able to operate between Trenton in New York. It's sort of like, you're renting an apartment, and the paint isn't doing so good. The appliances don't work so well."

When the fare hike kicks in Monday, some riders might think it's to improve service on NJ Transit, but that's not the case. The fare hike is to close a budget gap of more than $100 million, which is really aimed at making sure things don't get worse.

After decades of underfunding, experts say the bill has arrived to fix NJ Transit. To improve service, officials will have to come up with more funding.

"New Jersey Transit riders don't really want to pay more for service they're not happy with, but there's really no other option," Plotch says. "New Jersey Transit, they could cut service and they could cut back on maintenance, but that wouldn't make the riders very happy."

Without better service, experts point out that both businesses and residents will find their way out of the area.