NJ Transit fare hike meeting has lackluster attendance

New Jersey Transit held two of its nine scheduled public hearings Monday on a proposed fare hike in Freehold and Atlantic City.

The turnout at the Freehold meeting was less than expected. Only seven people voiced their opinions at the two-hour meeting. Some who attended say the reason for the low turnout was that it was difficult for people who wanted to attend the meeting to get there.

"This hearing, for example, is inaccessible by NJ Transit," says Atlantic Highlands resident Josh Leinsdorf, who attended the meeting in Freehold. "The last bus to Red Bank leaves at 6:30 p.m. That's a 20 minute walk from here...The people who actually use NJ Transit cannot come to this hearing."

Those who were able to attend say the higher fares would hurt working class people who rely on trains and buses.

Even some New Jersey Transit employees spoke out against the increase in price.

"It's really a slap in the face to commuters...and it's an unburdened tax on the middle-class family," says Martin Heraghty, President of the Local 824 Union.

The nine percent fare hike has been proposed to fill a $56 million budget gap.

The next public meeting will be held Tuesday, May 19 in Secaucus and Camden. Anyone who cannot attend the public meetings can still voice their opinion by commenting on NJ Transit's website.

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