(TRENTON) -- Assemblymen Wayne P. DeAngelo and Daniel R. Benson (both D-Mercer/Middlesex) had the following published recently in The Times of Trenton:
There couldn't be a worse time to raise train and bus fares on our middle class and working poor ("Commuters angry as NJ Transit plans 9 percent fare hike," April 21). But that's just what NJ Transit has proposed doing.
Our state continues to struggle to find its pre-Great Recession footing and to bring back tens of thousands of jobs lost during that time. Our neighbors in New York and Pennsylvania have recovered all their jobs and then some, while New Jersey has gained back just two-thirds of the jobs lost here.
NJ Transit must look to tighten its own belt before turning for a bailout to the already-strained commuter.
Fares were last increased just five years ago by a whopping 25 percent, on top of the elimination of the popular off-peak travel rates at the Hamilton, Princeton Junction and other rail stations.
The answer to stoking the fires of an anemic economic recovery is not to raise fares still higher.
Which brings us to another downer in NJ Transit's proposal: the proposed elimination of the 655 bus between Princeton and the Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.
NJ Transit promises to try to tweak existing bus routes to mitigate the effects of the lost bus route. If the route is lost, that is the least NJ Transit can do to ensure hard-pressed New Jerseyans have a way to get to work or to get the health care they need.
At public hearings scheduled for next month, we will join commuters and other hard-pressed residents of our region who voice their opposition to these ill-advised proposals.
The writer, a Democrat, represents the 14th District in the New Jersey Senate.
Wayne DeAngelo and Daniel Benson,
The writers, both Democrats, represent the 14th District in the New Jersey General Assembly.