Hidden in the NJ Transit fare increase debate until the very last moment was the elimination of off-peak fare discounts on NJ Transit trains. These off-peak discounts typically equated to 15% off the price of a peak one-way fare. According to an Asbury Park Press article from Sunday, the elimination of this discount in conjunction with the 25% fare increase will be the equivalent of a 64% increase for riders who use the train during off-peak operations. Since bicyclists using NJ Transit can only use the train with their full size bicycles during off-peak times, they should expect ticket prices far in excess of the widely discussed 25% increase.
My personal calculations did not quite come up with an increase of 64%. Based on a hypothetical $10 peak one-way fare, the old 15% discount for buying an off-peak round trip would make the off-peak one-way equate to $8.50. With the 25% fare increase and elimination of off-peak discounts that old $8.50 off-peak one-way fare will now come to $12.50. My calculations have that increase at 47% which is still massive but who am I to argue with that 64% figure when train fares are already too high and set to go way higher.
I've been a great fan of combining my bike and transit to get about for work and recreation. I would have begrudgingly accepted the 25% increase and kept on using NJ Transit trains during off-peak times for trips where I have the option of using my car. However this massive fare increase will have me saying sayonara to NJ Transit and choosing to use my car for all but trips to NYC and even those might be more economically done by driving to the Staten Island Ferry.
At least I'm not the only person who believes that this off-peak fare increase will devastate off-peak fare-box revenues on NJ Transit.