New Jersey Transit is facing a $300 million shortfall. Governor Christie plans to withhold $33 million in subsidies to help close New Jersey’s $2.2 billion budget gap. The transit agency’s response is bitter medicine for customers. Riders can expect a 2o to 30 percent fare hike.
In addition, the agency has laid off 200 people (about 2 percent of its workforce). This represents the, “deepest one-year workforce reduction in the agency’s 30 year history.” The reason it is such a drastic cut has more to do with recent history. In the past three years, transit payroll increased 24 percent between 2006 and 2009. Crunching payroll numbers, The Asbury Park Press finds that in this three year period, the number of employees increased by 14 percent, and average total pay (including overtime) rose from $57,474 to $62,794.
Management salaries will be cut by 5 percent, for Executive Director James Weinstein, who makes $261,324 a year, the reduction will amount to a little over $13,000.
For riders who suppose the stimulus will be used as as a fare subsidy replacement. It’s too late. The money’s been earmarked.
New Jersey Transit’s $52 million stimulus funds will be used for special projects, including: $15 million to improve pedestrian walkways at Newark Penn Station, and $36 million for a new “intermodal station and parking facility” in Pennsauken, Camden County to allow light rail transfers to the Atlantic City commuter rail and bus service.