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Get ready to pay more for NJ Transit rides. Here's how much you'll have to pay this summer.

Commuters react to approved NJ Transit fare hike
Commuters react to approved NJ Transit fare hike 02:01

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- Riding New Jersey Transit is about to be more expensive. 

New Jersey Transit officials voted "yes" Wednesday to a proposed fare hike - the first increase in nearly a decade.

The 15% increase will start July 1, just a few weeks after the $15 congestion pricing toll takes effect in June for drivers entering Manhattan below 60th Street.

The vote came after 10 meetings, with members of the public as well as transportation advocates pleading publicly in each on to stop this from happening.

How much will NJ Transit fares cost?

The fare hike will increase fares by 15% starting on July 1, and increase 3% more year to year, starting in 2025. Board members say it's a necessary measure. 

For example, a one-way ticket from Princeton Junction to New York Penn Station will jump from $16 to $18.40.  A round-trip ride from Hackensack to Manhattan jumps from $14.50 to $16.67.

The hike also raises one-zone bus fares and trips on the River Line by 20 cents. Train rides from Philadelphia to Pennsauken increase 60 cents.

Board votes unanimously in favor of fare hike

It was a unanimous vote in favor of the hike.

"New Jersey residents deserve safe, reliable efficient and affordable public transportation," board member Shanti Narra said. "If there was a way to deliver that without these fare hikes, I'd be 100% on board."

Watch Doug Williams' report

Get ready to pay more for NJ Transit 03:24

"It's not a yes just as a rubber stamp. It's a yes considering all the factors that we've discussed and that you've heard from my colleagues," board member Kiabi Carson said. 

The factors Carson referred to include low ridership since the pandemic, according to transit leaders. They say it will lead to a massive funding deficit, with a budget shortfall of already around $100 million. 

"The alternative to filling that budget gap is cutting services. And I think cutting services really does a disservice to working families," board member Richard Maroko said.  

Commuters react to fare hikes

The vote happened in the Newark Transit headquarters boardroom where, less than an hour beforehand, dozens of members of the public had pleaded for the opposite. 

"Increases of this magnitude should be the option of last resort," Christina Kata, a New Jersey policy associate at the Regional Plan Association, said. 

"The raising of fares can send mass transit into a death spiral. As rising fares decrease ridership, which decreases service. This plan is not only unjust. It is bad transit policy," Eric Benson said. 

Local leaders and advocates said their concerns had been ignored by the board in previous meetings on the topic. A press conference Wednesday morning was a last ditch effort. 

"This is not about fares. This is about fundamental fairness," Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said. 

"Probably gonna rack up to $20 a day going back and forth, and it's really unfair. People on the outside might think it's only a few cents. But throughout the week it accumulates," commuter Stephanie Martinez said. 

People like Bhalla say it isn't just about not wanting to pay more. They also say they want to see a change in how Jersey Transit is funded, saying the governor and state legislature should cover the deficit - not commuters.

"I already thought it was high, so that's definitely unreasonable," commuter Tiffany Cardwell said.

"No one likes paying more for something you've been used to paying a certain price for," commuter Atul Parshar said.

"I think especially because people are coming back to the office, it's gonna affect everybody," commuter Mike Yurcisin said.

Even with this fare hike, NJ Transit still faces a $760 million budget gap starting next year.

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