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Fare Hikes + One-Way Tickets: NJ Transit Updates

by Stephanie Spear
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Changes are coming on July 1st, 2024 for NJ Transit users and people who drive into Manhattan. In addition to a July fare hike on NJ Transit, a new policy will change one-way tickets to a 30-day expiration period. All of this is happening against the backdrop of the looming congestion fees for drivers going into Manhattan, which will take effect on June 30th. While various parties fight about the issues in court, the reality is that commuters have to face increased charges on July 1st, whether on the roads or the rails. Read on for more about this summer’s transit changes in New Jersey.

nj transit fare hike

Fare Increase Approved

At its April 10th meeting, the Board of Directors of NJ Transit voted to approve a one-time double-digit fare hike for 2024 and a 3% yearly increase, to take effect in 2025. This came after months of public criticism, system-wide service cuts, and a grim picture of the transit agency’s financial health. The increased ridership anticipated as part of the 2026 World Cup adds a layer of pressure on the agency to provide better, more reliable service.

The initial round of fare increases will take effect on July 1st, 2024, and the increase will depend on the route and type of fare purchased. The last time that NJ Transit raised rates was in 2015.  The transit agency faces a $106 million budget gap even with the fare increases, according to the New Jersey Monitor.

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Local leaders have spoken out against the fare increase, highlighting the negative impact it will have on riders.  Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla has issued several statements against the proposal and called on the Governor to veto the change. “It is absolutely imperative that Governor Murphy use his authority, like he has done in the past, to veto the adoption of New Jersey Transit’s unconscionable 15% transit fare hikes,” said Ravi Bhalla. “It makes absolutely zero sense to greenlight a double-digit fare increase when the Governor and legislature are actively considering the adoption of a corporate business tax from multi-million-dollar corporations-one that the governor himself indicated could generate a large portion of the revenue needed by NJ Transit. It is imperative for the governor and legislature to veto these hikes, adopt the corporate business tax, and use the funding from the tax to protect middle class and lower income New Jerseyans from these devastating increases.”

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has proposed a new tax in the state’s 2024-2025 budget that would directly benefit NJ Transit, called the Corporate Transit Fee. Per Politico NJ, the proposed tax is a 2.5% tax on companies that make over $10 million per year in profit, of which there are approximately 600 in New Jersey. A press release from the Governor’s office described the tax as “In this budget, Governor Murphy is proposing a Corporate Transit Fee to create another dedicated funding stream for NJ TRANSIT that will provide fiscal support. This funding will ensure service is maintained as ridership continues to recover from the pandemic while building upon major operational improvements.” The governor’s budget, with this provision, has not yet been approved by the legislature.

Other changes are in store for NJ Transit riders. At the same meeting, the Board voted to eliminate the FlexPass discount and to limit the validity of digital and paper tickets to 30 days from purchase, per the NJ Monitor. The Flexpass is a bundle of 20, one-way tickets that can be purchased at a 20% discount. The last day to purchase a Flexpass will be June 30th, 2024.

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Congestion Pricing

congestion pricing nyc

Congestion pricing will go into effect on June 30th, 2024. This toll will be applied to vehicles entering the Congestion Relief Zone in Manhattan: local streets and avenues at or below 60 Street. This is the culmination of years’ worth of work by the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to find a new funding source for the agency while reducing vehicular traffic. The project is the nation’s first congestion pricing project.

A main tenet of the plan is to encourage the use of public transportation, and the revenue generated would be solely allocated towards New York’s MTA-controlled transit.  The MTA will use the money for capital improvements and has built its budget around the revenue raised by the fees, according to the New York Times.

Officials on this side of the Hudson, including Governor Murphy, have been largely opposed to such a hike, noting that it would unfairly impact Garden State commuters. Many feel that because New Jersey drivers already pay a toll to enter the city, paying to enter the congestion zone would present a double tax.

Governor Murphy attempted to block the plan, despite the final MTA approval. The lawsuit was argued in court in April 2024 and a verdict is anticipated before the June 30th toll deadline. One of the main lines of reasoning in the State of New Jersey’s case is that New Jersey will bear the environmental toll of the fee, while getting no benefit from the increased revenue. According to the New York Times, many transportation policy observers see this case as a test of the probability of successfully enacting congestion pricing in the US, as it has been successfully implemented in other international cities including London and Singapore.

However, drivers should prepare to pony up the cash when driving into Manhattan starting July 1st, 2024.  While it currently costs up to almost $18 to commute into the city via Port Authority tunnels or bridges in a two-axle or single-wheel vehicle, the additional toll would cost anywhere from $9 to $35 simply to enter the congestion zone.

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As far as the actual pricing, reports now share that:

  • Cars will be charged an additional $15 to enter Manhattan at 60th Street and below.
  • Trucks could be charged between $24 and $36, depending on size.
  • Taxis are exempt from a major fare hike of $15 — though Uber and Lyft Surcharges would be $2.50, and yellow and black taxis will have an additional fee of $1.25 per ride.
  • Motorcycles will be charged $7.50 to go into the city.
  • These rates would only happen once per day; if you drive into the city, then out, then back in again — you’d only be charged once in 24 hours.
  • The rates will be in effect from 5AM to 9PM on weekdays, and 9AM to 9PM on weekends.

There are some planned exemptions, with the pricing — most will include government and emergency vehicles, school busses with a contract with the NY Department of Education, city-owned vehicles, and vehicles carrying people with disabilities.

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