As part of Gov. Chris Christie’s emphasis on accountability to New Jersey taxpayers, NJ Transit may change a long-standing, industry-wide practice allowing transit employees unlimited, free travel. The agency proposed changing its 30-year blanket privilege allowing non-agreement employees unlimited, free travel on rail, light rail and bus services.
Under the proposal, effective Jan. 1, 2013, the agency will no longer allow non-agreement employees and non-agreement retirees to use the agency’s transit system free-of-charge for non-business purposes.
The NJ Transit board of directors will consider this action in October. Upon approval, the measure is subject to Gov. Christie’s veto period.
“Moving forward, NJ Transit must continue to sufficiently consider the interests of our fare-paying customers and taxpayers. The organization’s travel policy must be consistent as to how our customers and taxpayers commute and travel — they pay for their expenses,” said NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein.
The latest proposal is one of many initiatives undertaken by the agency, transforming it into a more accountable, efficient and transparent organization. In 2011, NJ Transit reformed the agency’s vacation and sick leave policy practice for non-agreement employees. This reform included the elimination of sick day payouts for new employees, and a requirement that sick time be used on a first-earned, first-used basis.
The results speak for themselves: improved on-time performance, the second-lowest budget growth in the past 15 years, and a third-straight budget without a fare increase.
Similar reforms already have eliminated free travel privileges for employees at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the NJ Turnpike Authority and the Delaware River Port Authority.
Through the enactment of these reforms, NJ Transit continues to demand greater efficiencies, foster a more open and transparent agency and keep faith with customers and New Jersey taxpayers alike.