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RAIL EMPLOYMENT & NOTICES



Rail News Home Passenger Rail

2/19/2010



Rail News: Passenger Rail

NJ Transit, WMATA seek ways to bridge budget gaps


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New Jersey Transit is facing substantial budget deficits in fiscal years 2010 and 2011. Last week Gov. Chris Christie announced the agency’s FY2010 state operating subsidy would be reduced 11 percent, or by about $33 million, as part of an effort to close New Jersey’s budget gap.

The state also faces an $11 billion budget deficit in FY2011, which begins July 1, and likely won’t continue providing financial assistance to the agency. In addition, NJ Transit continues to confront inflationary cost increases for fuel, equipment parts and other materials, as well as declining fare revenue and ridership — passenger counts have fallen about 4 percent year to date, said Executive Director James Weinstein in a prepared statement.

Although an earlier transition report pegged NJ Transit’s FY2011 budget deficit at about $200 million, a review of more recent data shows the gap is “approaching $300 million,” said Weinstein.

The agency plans to seek input from riders and the public on ways to balance the FY2010 and FY2011 budgets. NJ Transit soon will hold a series of nine public meetings on fare and service change proposals, and solicit public comments beginning in early March.

Meanwhile, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is facing a $189.2 million operating budget shortfall in FY2011 because of rising expenses and decreasing revenue from lower-than-expected ridership. Costs — including labor contracts, fringe benefits and worker compensation claims — have increased by $114.5 million.

WMATA’s preliminary proposal to close the shortfall includes a combination of fare increases, fare structure changes and service reductions. Another $40 million has yet to be addressed, so the agency is considering whether to adjust seasonal service; increase intervals between trains and buses; close station mezzanines and rail stations during low ridership periods; start morning rail service at a later time; and modify late-night rail and bus service.

WMATA plans to conduct a series of public meetings in April to seek input on budget-balancing proposals. The agency’s board will vote on a final FY2011 budget in June.


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