No fare hikes in the immediate forecast for New Jersey Transit

New Jersey Transit has not plans to raise fares despite a budget shortfall.(AP photo/Julie Jacobson)

New Jersey Transit has not plans to raise fares despite a budget shortfall.(AP photo/Julie Jacobson)

As New Jersey Transit wrestles with a multimillion-dollar budget gap, it has no plan to raise fares.

Interim executive director Dennis Martin said the shortfall will be less than the previously estimated $57 million. The final amount will depend on details of the transit agency’s settlement with rail workers and reimbursements for some expenses.

While fares won’t go up to close the budget gap, Martin said the agency is looking for ways to increase revenue.

“What I’ve been asked to do is to target where we have empty seats so that we can increase our marginal revenue without increasing costs,” he said during a budget hearing before lawmakers in Trenton. “The cost drivers are when we have to add additional buses and trains on already crowded routes going into an out of New York.”

The agency is working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to rearrange traffic patterns for getting buses through the Lincoln Tunnel in the afternoon.

“We’re able to save money because we’re reducing the amount of delay time that we’re paying bus operators, and we’re cutting back running time so we’re making the buses more efficient into getting into and out of New York,” he said.

New Jersey Transit is also trying to reduce the cost of health care for its workers by eliminating expensive plans and increasing employee contributions.

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