By Sharon Meyer
In light of the recent transit fare hike of 25 percent increase for train riders and a 10 percent increase for bus riders, I can’t help but think of the hole that this will burn in my college student wallet as well as the hole that will be burned in the Ozone at in increased rate due to the amount of people who will forfeit NJ Transit and drive their cars to work.
In an article I read at environmentnewjersey.org, the writer points out that Governor Christie is trying to fix New Jerseys budget woes through NJ Transit riders. In recent years the number of people who use public transportation has increased greatly because of high gas prices and lack of other transportation (i.e. automobiles).
The problem is that most of the people who take the train to work (or internships) like myself, have cars but find that driving to Jersey City, or NYC takes hours of commuting, sitting in traffic, burning tons of gas, and parking is ridiculous.
As a student at who is interning at an office in Jersey City and has been taking the 7:42 am train (express to Hoboken) for $5.50 one way, every Tuesday and Friday for the past few months, I have learned that NJ transit is a wonderful GREEN way to get to work. The first few weeks of my internship I drove and wasted a tank of gas a day in stop and go traffic, paid $18 dollars for parking for a “job” that wasn’t paying me in anyways but experience for the future.
When I discovered that the train would be cheaper, faster, and one less car on the road, I was completely ready and willing for the switch. Now that they are going to increase fares that can, and I quote off the article I read before, “For the 10 percent of New Jersey residents who use mass transit to get to work, that means they could pay up to $1,000 more per year for a monthly train pass. It means people could pay up to $10 more per train trip to get to New York, or face up to an $88 monthly hike if you’re a regular train commuter.”
Not only is this more expensive, but I will have to add a shift at my paying job just to afford the train to my unpaid internship that hopefully will get my foot in the door when I graduate in the fall of 2010.
Besides the money aspect of this unjust fare increase, why are the people who are trying to save the environment by not using their cars to travel to work, being punished by having to pay more for their daily commute? If anything we should be rewarded for keeping that many more cars off the rode. Look that these statistics I found off this article from environmentalnewjersey.org.
“With those price increases, getting back on the road will start to look much more appealing for transit riders. And for every commuter who decides to drive to work instead of taking New Jersey Transit, it will add an average of 4,800 pounds of global warming pollution to our air each year. In 2008, New Jersey residents saved 137 million gallons of gas by riding public transit -- reducing as much global warming pollution as if we'd taken 239,000 cars off the road.”
Those numbers are huge not only for traffic reasons, but air pollution! Wouldn’t the Governor want more people to take public transportation to work? It’s environmentally friendly!
Instead of raising transit fares, why not keep them the same and build an advocacy campaign to make people aware of how much pollution they cause driving to work and taking the train is safer and much better for the environment. If the campaign is done right, I could see more people switching to NJ transportation and the increase in riders will help the lack of funds (apparently) that has sparked this fare increase.