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State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch). Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Gopal opposes potential 2020 NJ Transit fare hike

Senator calls the prospect “deeply concerning”

By Nikita Biryukov, September 23 2019 4:26 pm

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State Sen. Vin Gopal voiced his opposition to a potential NJ Transit fare increase in 2020 on Monday.

“Significant concerns on that. I’m still getting a number of constituents that are complaining about NJ Transit,” Gopal said. “While we’ve seen some positive changes with the positive train control, there’s still a lot more that needs to be seen, and I don’t think residents are feeling the changes that NJ Transit needs to make.”

In an interview on NJTV this weekend, NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett declined to rule out a fare increase for the beleaguered transit network.

There won’t be an increase this year — Corbett and Gov. Phil Murphy have said as much — though Corbett suggested that an increase next year, when there are no regular legislative elections, could be tied to improvements in NJ Transit service.

Gopal said he wouldn’t back a fare increase even if that was the case, citing a lack of clarity in the improvements to NJ Transit’s service over two years.

“To talk about fare raises when people haven’t felt the changes, I don’t think should happen, and it’s deeply concerning,” the state senator said.

Cancellations and delays have plagued NJ Transit for years, and they’ve shown signs of accelerating rather than slowing down, especially during summer months.

Service on some of NJ Transit’s lines has been in a state of limbo since last year. The Atlantic City Rail line was shut down completely for eight months while positive train controls were implemented.

Even lines that are operational have seen hours-long delays. In April, commuters were stranded for hours after NJ Transit could not handle crowds leaving a Wrestlemania event held at MetLife Stadium.

“People were stranded for hours, so I think this is all very concerning,” Gopal said. “I think it’s concerning overall.”

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