Christie administration may cut free rides for nonunion NJ Transit workers

Posted: October 10, 2012

The Christie administration wants to eliminate free rides for NJ Transit employees.

Making nonunion workers and retirees pay for their commutes and other trips could generate $1.6 million a year, NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said Monday.

The proposal, which is expected to be approved by the NJT board Monday, would not affect the agency's union workers, whose free rides are part of their labor contracts. But contracts for all 28 NJT bargaining units have expired, Snyder said, and Gov. Christie has made it clear he wants free rides eliminated.

"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.

Christie previously eliminated free rides for nonunion workers at other transportation agencies, including the Delaware River Port Authority, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

At the DRPA, he took away union workers' free passage, too, but was forced to restore the perk in January 2011, when a labor arbitrator ruled the rides were part of the workers' contracts and could not be taken away arbitrarily.

Ray Greaves, chairman of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents many NJT workers, said Monday that he did not have enough information to respond to NJT's proposal.

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, supported the move, saying, "Maybe if the people who work for NJ Transit have to pay for their tickets they would understand the frustration of the average commuter in New Jersey. Commuters are paying more money for worse service."

At NJ Transit, the end to the free rides will take effect Jan. 1, if approved by the board.

Last year, NJT cut back on vacation and sick leave use by nonunion employees.

Contact Paul Nussbaum at 215-854-4587 or .

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