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Sierra Club Blasts Transit Fare Hikes as Hearings Begin

Date : Thu, 25 Mar 2010 16:00:44 -0400

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2010 By Jeff Tittel, NJ Chapter Director, 609-558-9100

Sierra Club Blasts NJ Transit Hikes and Budget Cuts Hearings on the fare hikes and service cuts begin today

As NJ Transit begins a series of hearings today on its plan to raise fares and cut services, the Sierra Club is voicing its strong opposition to the proposal, which will increase fares by 30 percent. The fare increase, combined with budget cuts that will lead to the elimination of 200 NJ Transit employees, will decimate mass transit in New Jersey.

'These cuts will create a downward spiral. The more you raise fares and cut services, the more people will take cars. New Jersey may end up destroying one of the best transportation systems in the country," NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.

The proposed funding cut of $32.7 million will eliminate subsidies for NJ Transit in the final months of this budgetary year. These rate increases and cut back of services come at a time when more people are riding public transportation than ever before. This will hurt many of the state's disadvantaged, working poor, handicapped, and seniors, who need public transit to get to work or go to see their doctor.

Cutting funding for transit will also hurt the economy because many people who can't afford cars rely on mass transit to get to work. Businesses need transit to bring their employees to work each day. Cuts in transit funding will undermine the work the state has done to promote smart growth and build transportation around hubs. More people will be forced to drive, adding to traffic and air pollution. Each train that is taken out of service adds 500 cars to the road. For each bus taken out of service, 40 to 50 more cars are put on the road.

The Sierra Club believes that these NJ Transit cuts are bad for the economy and will undermine our efforts to deal with air pollution and greenhouse gases.

If NJ Transit starts cutting services and raising fares, we will see a downward spiral in the use of public transportation. Less people will ride NJ Transit, leading to a further drop in revenues, more cuts, and a sharper decline in ridership. "We can't afford the pollution and congestion that will come from more cars on the road," Tittel said.

These cuts to public transportation are unnecessary. There are other ways to come up with sources of money, including cash out parking, value added fee for transportation improvements, transportation development districts, and many others. We can eliminate paying people who sit on state boards or cutting back on public subsidies for Xanadu. We could make AIG give us the $150 million they owe us or go after EnCap for the money it cost the taxpayers of New Jersey.

New Jersey should not be spending billions to widen roads when we have no money to maintain them and car ridership is down. We're planning to spend a billion and a half dollars to widen highways in the Pinelands, where there is no growth or traffic and $2.2 billion to widen the turnpike. If we redesigned the turnpike project to include flex or reversible lanes, it would still do the same job but would cost hundreds of millions of dollars less. We're going to be spending $9 billion on the construction of the ARC tunnel but we won't even have the trains to go through it. At the least, we should redesign the tunnel so that it actually does what it is intended to do.

New Jersey must establish a stable source of funding for mass transit. All other systems throughout the country have managed to establish a dedicated source for operation and maintenance. New Jersey must do the same. A gas tax could be one option for generating such revenues.

While it is apparent that we need to save money and balance the budget, cutting mass transit is penny wise and pound foolish.

"This is a lose-lose-lose for the people of New Jersey. It will cost us jobs, hurt the economy, and create more pollution," Tittel said.

Kara Seymour, Program Assistant NJ Sierra Club

145 W. Hanover Street Trenton, NJ 08618

609.656.7612

(f) 609.656.7618

<http://www.newjersey.sierraclub.org> www.newjersey.sierraclub.org

Received on 2010-03-25 13:00:44

New Jersey Sierra Club, 145 West Hanover St., Trenton, NJ 08618, USA
tel: 609 656 7612, fax 609 656 7618
or email Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator, at nicole.dallara@sierraclub.org

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