NJ Transit needs to hit practice commuters with surcharge, increase $1.9B

New York-bound rail commuters would pay a per-trip surcharge to finance the state’s share of construction costs for new $12.9 billion Hudson River rail tunnels under a plan by NJ Transit.

A Tuesday letter from NJ Transit to the federal Department of Transportation outlines the plan, under which city rail commuters would pay a 90 cent per-trip surcharge to fund the tunnel project starting in 2020.

The surcharge would jump to $1.70 in 2028, and to $2.20 in 2038. 

The fee would generate a $1.9 billion for NJ Transit’s share of the project, according to the letter.

New York would provide $1.75 billion, but would not hit its riders with a surcharge. Instead, the state’s share would be financed with a Federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement loan that New York would repay over 35 years.

The Port Authority committed $2.7 billion toward the Gateway Project, which includes the tunnels, in a 10-year capital plan adopted earlier this year.

The financing plan was announced by Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo in a statement Thursday that details how the states will meet a commitment to fund 50 percent of the Gateway cost.

The remaining 50 percent would be funded by the federal government. A federal spending bill approved in September included only $900 million toward the project. 

The tunnels would allow repair of the 107-year-old tunnels that were damaged by flood waters driven by Hurricane Sandy, which prompted Amtrak officials to warn that a tunnel could be taken out of service for a year to repair the damage, leading to a commuting nightmare. The project also funds rehabilitation of each of the old tunnels. 

Larry Higgs may be reached at lhiggs@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @commutinglarry. Find NJ.com on Facebook.




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