New Jersey Transit Biggest Loser Under Amtrak Cost-Share Plan

October 8, 2015

Amtrak is quietly billing railroads in nine East Coast states more than $500 million starting this month, with the brunt born by cash-strapped New Jersey Transit.Website Insert Perfect Answer copy

The Garden State’s mass-transportation agency must put $199.2 million toward the national rail service’s operating and capital expenses, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. The hit increases the likelihood of another budget shortfall just a week after New Jersey Transit raised fares 9 percent to generate $56 million.

Federal law requires Amtrak, starting Oct. 1, to assess part of operating and capital costs to users of its Northeast Corridor, the busiest U.S. passenger line, amid dwindling congressional allocations. Though billing breakdowns were circulated in an internal Amtrak summary dated Sept. 17, New Jersey Transit, the nation’s third-biggest commuting service, has declined to disclose the figure or to discuss the potential impact on fares.

 Commuters now pay as much as $499 for monthly train service to Manhattan while enduring routine delays linked to Amtrak’s hurricane-damaged, century-old Hudson River tunnels, vulnerable overhead power lines and an antiquated bridge over the Hackensack River.

The higher costs confront an agency that just raised fares amid a cash crunch. The state is almost out of money to improve mass-transit service and fix roads as Republican Governor Chris Christie, a candidate for president, rejects tax increases. New Jersey residents, who have one of the longest average commutes in the country, have little choice but to pay more as delays and breakdowns become more frequent.

Read more from reporter Elise Young at Bloomberg Politics by clicking here.


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