For the first time since its inception in 1981, Sussex County Skylands Ride (Office of Transit) has requested a fare increase for its Loop bus service. Effective July 1, 2011, fares will go from $.50 per trip to $1.00 per trip. Senior citizens and people with disabilities may apply for a NJ TRANSIT reduced fare card and all such card holders will be charged $.50 per trip.
The 2011 fare increase is part of a three-tier plan to increase fares over the next three years. By 2013, each Loop trip will cost $2.00 unless an annual review of proposed increases determines that fares should not be changed.
Rising costs and consistently shrinking funding over the last few years have forced the County to take action to keep the county’s transportation system in operation. In preparing the fare study for the Freeholders to consider, a poll of the other twenty counties in the state was conducted. The four counties that do not charge fares are currently conducting their own fare studies to revise their fare policies and increase revenues to counteract the loss of other funding.
As part of the Sussex County fare study, the current and proposed policies were weighed against the cost of taxi service for the same trip. The average cost for taxi service in Newton starts at a minimum of $7.00 per trip and can cost as much as $50.00 per trip to get from one side of the county to the other. A new fare schedule for demand response trips will be implemented later this year.
The new fare policy was recommended by the Sussex County Transportation Citizens Advisory Board in order to ensure that there will be transportation services available for as many county residents as possible. As Chair Brian Schnabel commented, “The wheels need money to go around.” The committee recognized that while this change may cause residents some concern, it is a question of having to pay a little more for a ride or not having a ride at all.