New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy vowed not to raise fares on NJ Transit trains and buses Wednesday during a meeting with the agency’s Board of Directors.
“The only pumping in of money to NJ Transit for the past eight years has come from commuters,” Murphy said. “Their fares are up 36 percent over the past eight years.”
Murphy who took office in January 2018, succeeded former Gov. Chris Christie who became governor in 2010. Murphy proposed Tuesday increasing state funding to NJ Transit by $242 million.
“All I am asking you to do for NJ Transit, what we are working hard to do for every one of our residents is restore the value our people get for our tax money,” Murphy said. “This won’t be easy. I know you have been forced to do more with less. … But now you have an administration that recognizes the importance and value of a safe and reliable mass transit.”
Murphy told NJ Transit directors to set salaries that are in accordance with market rates.
On the subject of NJ Transit’s importance in relation to business development, Murphy said he is investing money toward the agency in terms of its human capital and in conducting an audit of NJ Transit to make it right. When he speaks with businesses about moving to New Jersey, Murphy said those discussions center on public education, higher education and mass transportation.
“We view mass transit commuter rail bus lines as a central element of our economic development aspirations,” Murphy said.
On the subject of NJ Transit buses, Murphy said the agency needs to hire more drivers and mechanics. He expects the agency to improve its service to riders.
“You can’t build Rome in a day,” Murphy said. “I don’t want folks to think tomorrow morning all of our problems will be solved as it relates to NJ Transit or the state of New Jersey.”
Murphy pledged his confidence in New Jersey Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and NJ Transit executive director Kevin Corbett.
Corbett recognized the late NJ Transit bus driver Larry Wiley, who died in the line of duty on Feb. 20 while driving his bus outside the Hilton bus garage in Maplewood. A moment of silence was held to remember Wiley.
Corbett thanked NJ Transit employees for enduring winter storms, clearing fallen trees, clearing snow from tracks and restoring service.