EDITORIAL: NJ Transit audit may affect students

Possible fare strike would increase financial burdens

On Monday, newly sworn in Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed an executive order calling for a full-scale audit of NJ Transit. The system is seen by many as failing and was one of the hot-button issues of November’s gubernatorial race, especially after Hoboken’s rail accident in 2016. From personnel to infrastructure, NJ Transit is in need of a serious revamping, and Murphy is right about that. At parts of the train station in Summit, for example, the concrete was found to be crumbling. But while a revolution is just what this transit system needs, change at the scale in question requires a large amount of one scarce and particular thing — money. 

Since 2009, NJ Transit fares have risen 36 percent. Many attribute this to former Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) mishandling of the system, but it is a bit too late to point the finger of blame. Some are concerned that with this full-scale audit will come even higher transit fares. The worry is that the state will decide to raise fares in order to compensate for the expensive but thorough examination, but during his campaign Murphy was quite critical of NJ Transit and opposed its rising cost. If the cost of transit gets too high, it could potentially have serious academic and professional implications on Rutgers and its student body. 

Internships are an important aspect of a college student’s life because they help people garner experience. Experience is a key aspect of resumes in post-college life, and in many cases it is necessary for an employer’s consideration. Presumably, a large portion of the internships that Rutgers students attain is not conveniently located on campus and requires use of the NJ Transit system. If fares for transit continue to get higher, students who do not have paid internships will be forced to front the whole transportation cost themselves — a hefty price when it adds up. For example, it costs approximately $30 for a round trip ticket from New Brunswick to Penn Station in New York City. Go twice a week and that is approximately $240 a month, which is more than many students can afford. And while there are student discounts for NJ Transit fares, they are not exactly significant, and the cost can still be a great burden for low-income students on top of all of their other daily living expenses. 

Spiking transit fares as a result of the audit could result in less students taking internships far away, or even less students taking internships in general. This would look enormously bad for the University. We want as many skilled and experienced students as possible here — that is part of what makes a school great. If more students apply for internships close by because they cannot afford to travel far, that will create a significant increase in competition between students — specifically those who are low-income — possibly resulting in less low-income students with internships and a perpetuation of the social and wealth inequalities that those who elected Murphy thought they were fighting against. Not to mention the fact that the internship positions many students strive to land are in Manhattan. 

There is really not much that we expect the administration can do to help defray the cost of students’ transit fares. The University is already spread quite thin when it comes to funding, so to throw this on it would not make much sense and would likely be counterproductive considering how much of its general funding comes out of our tuition. In that case, our pleas lie with Murphy and New Jersey to prevent further burdensome increases to the system’s transit fares. 


The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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