Murphy's NJ Transit audit may affect students
Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed an executive order on Monday calling for a “full-scale” audit of NJ TRANSIT, addressing the issues surrounding the transport system that Rutgers students rely on to get to nearby cities.
Since 2009, NJ Transit fares have risen 36 percent, according to NJ.com — an increase that can potentially affect the way commuter students, and those who occupy internship positions in either New York City or Philadelphia, look at their everyday commute.
When asked about the likelihood that an audit would result in higher fares for New Jersey residents, Murphy did not give a firm answer.
"I'm hard pressed to think that's a conclusion," he said. "I think we have to believe that there are extraordinary inefficiencies in this organization that we can be much smarter taking advantage of."
In 2004, NJ Transit began a partnership with colleges and universities in New Jersey, offering students a 25 percent discount for NJ Transit monthly passes they purchase online, By using NJ Transit Quik-Tik program, full-time undergraduate and graduate students receive discounted rail, bus or light rail monthly passes directly through the mail.
For some students, whether they accept internships in the city depends on how much money those internships pay them for travel costs. The University's School of Arts and Sciences created an internship support fund a few years ago that supports students unable to meet these costs, said Steve Miller, director of undergraduate studies in Journalism and Media Studies.
“To me, in the journalism department, and really any student here at the University, the internship should be the capstone of your college career,” he said. “I don’t care what major you’re in, I don’t care what major you’re in — it can’t be emphasized enough.”
An increase in tuition by $200, let alone the price of bus fare, is enough to prevent some students from returning next semester, Miller said. An entire semester’s worth of travel can look close to $1,000 out of pocket, in addition to tuition and other expenses.
“Last spring we had 11 students who, because they were commuting to New York City or Philadelphia, had done well in the classroom and other courses and there was a demonstrated need there, were able to get $100 or $200,” Miller said.
Murphy said he anticipates the audit will be completed as "fast as possible” — possibly within the next three months, according to NJ Advance Media.