Impact of NJ Transit Fare Increase on Low-Income Communities of Color

February 2, 2024
Posted in News
February 2, 2024 Charles Brown

In recent times, the spotlight has increasingly turned to the impact of transit fare hikes on marginalized communities, particularly people of color and those with low incomes. Charles T. Brown, a prominent figure shedding light on this issue, underscores the disproportionate burden faced by these communities when transit fares rise.

Brown points out that while fare increases may seem like a quick fix to address budget shortfalls, they have far-reaching implications, particularly from an equity standpoint. “It’s just a quicker, more direct way to address immediate budget shortfalls … And so from an equity standpoint … [this will] impact low-income riders,” he states. The recent decision by Governor Phil Murphy and NJ Transit to implement a 15% fare increase, with additional yearly hikes of 3%, only exacerbates this challenge.

The ramifications of such fare hikes are deeply felt by individuals in low-income communities of color, as highlighted by research conducted by the New Jersey Policy Perspective. Their findings reveal that more than half of NJ Transit bus passengers earn less than $35,000 annually, with 80% relying on bus services five days a week. Moreover, Black, Latino, and Asian residents, compared to their white counterparts, exhibit lower rates of car ownership and often depend on bus commuting as their primary mode of transportation.

Advocates argue that well-funded public transportation is not merely a convenience but a vital tool for economic mobility and social equity. Adequate funding for transit services is essential to ensure that individuals from marginalized communities have reliable and affordable access to transportation options, enabling them to access employment opportunities, educational institutions, healthcare services, and other essential resources.

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