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NJ Transit Axes Free Travel for Non-Union Employees

New policy goes into effect January 2013.

New Jersey Transit's non-union employees will no longer be granted free travel on the agency's rail, light rail and bus lines as of January 2013. 

According to NJT Spokeswoman Nancy Snyder, the board of directors voted Monday to approve the elimination of the 30-year-old policy, as had been anticipated. 

The policy allowed non-union employees and non-union retirees to use the transit system free-of-charge for personal purposes. Under the new policy, free travel for non-union employees will only be granted for work purposes. 

Snyder said the change is part of an ongoing effort to implement cost cutting measures that make the agency more accountable, transparent and efficient.

"1.6 million [dollars] is estimated not to be collected with the 1,800 non-union employeers that are affected by this policy change," she said. "We understand the impact on our employees but we also must balance the fact that we have to consider our fare paying customers and tax payers."

The change will not impact union employees.

This is not the first policy change that has been implemented regarding NJT's non-union employees.

In 2011, the vacation and sick leave policy for non-union employees was reformed so as to eliminate sick day payouts for new employees and require employees to use sick time on a first-earned, first-used basis, according to NJT. 

NJT reports that the 2011 policy change contributed to an improved on-time performance, the second-lowest budget growth in the past 15 years, and a third straight budget without a fare increase. 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the NJ Turnpike Authority and the Delaware River Port Authority have already eliminated free travel privileges for employees, according to NJT. 

Ridgewood Mom October 16, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Ojo Rios, I am not interested in getting democrats to agree to anything. When it comes to Christie and Romney, I just want them to quit slashing the wrong things in the wrong way and democratic rivals have a much better stance on these issues. For what its worth, I identify as neither a liberal or a democrat. In fact, on social issues I am quite moderate if not a bit conservative. I had also been quite moderate on economic issues until recently. And on those my views haven't changed dramatically but have only been framed further to the left by this absurd radical libertarianism that has been plaguing the republican party in recent years. You may genuinely be against perks, benefits, decent salaries for NJT employees. FIne. Whatever. There are many ways that could be paid for. You like some and you don't like others. Fine. But let's just acknowledge that all of this is part of a much broader austerity agenda and that you are trying to steer the conversation away from consideration of any other possibilities that may also be available because of your philosophical views that lie outside of this particular issue.
tryintosurvive October 16, 2012 at 03:36 PM
What in this statement is false "taxpayers should not be paying more for public employees to retire early along with their yearly raises and other generous benefits". Do public employees not get yearly raises (aka step increases)? or are the benefits not generous?
Ridgewood Mom October 16, 2012 at 03:42 PM
D-zone, Just to be clear, I was being facetious. I support better conditions for NJ transit workers, unionized and otherwise.
XJS October 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
D-zone- everyone has sick/personal days. Whether it's 3 or 15 is a matter of the union for which you work (or the job in the private sector). People also get vacation. They're averse to using vacation as sick days. When people get paid out for their unused sick/personal days, they tend to save them and come in sick. They expose everyone. For the idiots who don't get paid out at the end but come in sick in my office - I want to throttle them. They can work from home and should.
Ridgewood Mom October 16, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Deregulation of business is what has crippled the economy. Austerity is what is preventing it from improving.
XJS October 16, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Bellair - You're wrong on me. As to society benefiting from public transit- I agree 100%. I just don't agree with the lifelong perks employees get. My thought is this -if they have to pay for personal use of the bus/train, they MAY stop riding the train/bus on personal time. This may lead to emptier trains/buses that could be discontinued b/c they're a waste of money. This can lead to job cuts at NJ Transit. This will save money. Those cut will have to find work in another quasi-gov't agency OR the private sector. Maybe they'll have to update their skillset. I know it sucks for the people who are let go, but government waste sucks for everyone who pays taxes. That's a greater number of people. As for firing union employees- if you think one blip on the record gets them fired, no matter how large, you're nuts. Short of getting caught stealing (and even then it's not 100% likely they're going out the door), they can get away with just about anything. I know a union member in NYC that sits at his desk and sleeps ALL MORNING EVERY MORNING from 8-noon, goes to lunch. Walks around chatting for a few hours in the afternoon and goes home at 4pm. He blatantly does 1 hour of work a day max. He cannot be fired & they've stopped writing him up b/c the quality of the work he does do is fine. And, it's not that much less than other people in the office who don't sleep. Clearly working hard is not necessary there. It's unbelievable.
Jack S October 16, 2012 at 03:53 PM
Ridgewood Mom, you keep citing subsidies. You are aware that subsidies mean tax dollars. Treating tax dollars so cavalierly is why we are in the tax mess to begin with.
XJS October 16, 2012 at 03:53 PM
ride164- You understand that infrastructure (roads, schools, sewer systems, garbage dumps etc) are good for everyone, no? So you chose not to have children - the benefit to that is you can live virtually anywhere with no regard to the school system. Feel free to move to a lower tax neighborhood with terrible schools. And while you're driving there, think about thanking people who pay more in taxes than you and made that road you're driving on possible.
Jenne October 16, 2012 at 03:54 PM
*snort* This is complete political grandstanding. Have they even checked to see how many non-union employees take public transit for work or non-work purposes? They "assume" that they will collect full fares for all those trips they 'assume' are being made, which, y'know, is probably not true. Depending on where NJ transit non-union workers live, they may just start commuting by car; and they may well stop using NJ transit for recreation. Maybe the retirees will move to PA where all retirees get free public transit paid for by the lottery....
BellairBerdan October 16, 2012 at 04:29 PM
XJS I realize you like using fake information to make your points, but I also know union employees. Real ones. Not made up ones like you. I also have known of union employees being fired. Generally if an employee is written up 3 times before being terminated, but yes someone can be fired for a single infraction. I also know that to get a retirement benefit you need to work a minimum of 35 years and and be at least 55 years of age. You say you work from home. How productive are you? How many hours are you working, napping or on Patch while getting paid? It is clear you are not working very hard either. Yes, your statements are unbelievable.
Sue Osnato October 16, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I think it unfair to take from one sector of society because you can and not another because they are protected and you can't. All for one... Either all of them should pay or none of them should pay, whether private or union. This favoritism and gift giving needs to stop.
XJS October 16, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Bellair- the NYC employees union, which constitutes police, fire & people employed by gov't agencies. It's a 20 year and you're out with 50% of the last annual salary pension. After 10 years you get a portion of the last annual salary but not 50%. The gov't employee to whom I'm referring works in the Federal Building and is well known for his antics. He's called a "lifer" and while he's never once been promoted he has received every pay increase. He's been sleeping for years. There's a woman at Federal Plaza (different building) and who works for the Federal gov't that sleeps under her desk most of the day b/c she has a second job at night. I'm not kidding or exaggerating. They exist.
tryintosurvive October 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Sue you are probably right, however the union contracts that are in place usually complicate the timing of things. My guess is that NJ Transit intends to do just that, remove the free ride from union and non-union employees. They need to wait until the contract is being renegotiated to change the union members benefits. They will be in a better position to do that if they can say that this benefit does not exist for non-union workers.
BellairBerdan October 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
XJS, why were you saying retiring with full benefits when you've just now said 50%? I was talking about DC37 NYC's largest municipal employee union.
Sue Osnato October 16, 2012 at 05:11 PM
There is truth to what you say. It makes sense. However, this playing field of one gets more because ... just sets us up for failure down the line. I don't think some people have a real experience of what this economy is like and how devastating it can be.
Ridgewood Dad October 16, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Both are government programs, ever consider government is the problem?
Ridgewood Dad October 16, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Ridgewood Mom, sorry for your misunderstanding. If government was so good and efficient, why does it force itself on you? Amtrak lost $850,000,000 on its food service carts, NJTransit losses money while private transportation makes money. The private sector turns out better students and does it for less than the public school which hide many of their expenses like the property taxes they don't pay for, the SROs the PD pays for, the federal subsidies, etc. The TSA has sexually molesta millions, and have caught no terrorists. Every jihadi plot the FBI broke up was started by the FBI in a "sting". Should I continued? Corporations voluntarily pay their executives, can't say the same about ANY government employee.
Ridgewood Dad October 16, 2012 at 11:28 PM
We do not exploit Chinese workers their government does. As their population becomes increasingly educated and productive, the grip of the communistsis weakens. We saw this in Eastern Europe, we will see this in China to. The great firewall will come down the same way the Berlin wall did.
Ridgewood Dad October 16, 2012 at 11:31 PM
More misunderstandings to help Ridgewood Mom with. When someone doesn't spend money and they put it in the bank, the capital is used to loan to people who are willing to take a risk. The role of the bank to manage that risk. If everyone pulled their money from the bank, we would have a repeat of the events that created the conditions for FDR and the Fed to cause the Great Depression.
Dee Felton October 17, 2012 at 01:04 PM
My thoughts are a little different. At least the retiree's should get to continue riding for free. Maybe I am wrong, but how many rides are they really going to take that will impact anything. I also think that people over 75 should ride for free. As a matter of fact, I don't think that anyone should have to pay school taxes after 70. Folks paid while their kids were in school. Help for a while, but if you breed 'em, feed 'em and pay for their education.
Jessica K February 19, 2013 at 06:15 PM
If you people had all the facts perhaps you would understand what they are doing. The Non-union employees are Management and Bosses that make well over $100,000-$300,000+ a year. They also have an additional pension they collect in that position. This was the solution to avoiding raising fares and upsetting the customers.
NO TO TAX HIKE February 19, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Cutting down the cost is fine, but they should think more seriously about improving the service and increasing the revenue. Why not make a project to run NJT to the Grand Central. They should review the timetable, increase the ridership and make better use of the areas around the train stations.
toomanydamnlaws February 19, 2013 at 07:39 PM
As an NJ Transit non-agreement employee, I was hired at a lower pay rate than my public sector equals, specifically because I would be receiving transortation to and from work, and that I would also be expected to be `an ambassador' to the company, and act as its `eyes and ears'. I do not take NJ Transit anymore...
William Mays February 19, 2013 at 08:46 PM
Not fully true. NJ Transit hires many 60k and under consultants who are not unionized.
BillBalls February 19, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Toomany – It is a free country. Don’t like your employer anymore – QUIT – go over to that higher paying Rail Road, wherever that may be! Which Politician got you into NJTrans.? Everyone knows if you don’t have a political daddy to open the government employment doors for you, you be screwed! No government jobs for us lowly boys and girls! BTW Toomany, if you are leaving I’LL Take your Job in a Heart Beat! PS. Tell your political friend I'll put up yard signs for him, heck I'll blanket the State (and take down the ones running against him) and I don't even care what party he is with, I just need a job. Oh, Oh, I can donate a little, a very little bit too.
Mark February 19, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Ridgewood Mom-- we are not taking away their days, we are only asking them to actually use them!!!!! How long have you or your spouse worked for NJ Transit??? Most businesses (non Unoin) do not allow you to bank years worth of time to pay out when you leave. Be realistic and get your head out of your butt. Besides, why do retired non union people deserve to ride for free??????"?"
William Mays February 19, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Thats BS BillBalls. Uneducated conservatives such as yourself think that only connected people can get government jobs. Not true.
BillBalls February 19, 2013 at 10:01 PM
Sue, You hit the nail right on the head – All this favoritism has to stop. Only problem is if we stop it all, it will take all the power away from the politicians who pass out the favors, and give the power back to the people. OMG, what a concept! I, for one, am sick and tired of seeing our politicians treat themselves like kings at our expense, and I’m more then sick and tired of realizing they treat their “friends” just the same, on our dime. Don’t believe me? Try to get a government job without the help of a politician. Good luck. I know of at least 4 cases where political ties got people good, and by good I mean well over $100,000 a year jobs, just because they knew the right guy and campaigned for him. I know of many people who don’t get the same traffic tickets you and I would because they have a PBA card. How unfair is that? BTW, I ripped mine up; I refuse to be a hypocrite like so many other who complain about all this stuff, but allow themselves to be bought. And last but not least, and this one really burns my behind. I know of a case where a student who didn’t cut it for one of the State universities she wanted to go to, not only got in, but “fell” into a full boat scholarship, again just because her daddy knew the right folks to grease. And we wonder why America is failing! We are screwed!
Monk February 19, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Government should work for the people, but we've come to the point where so many people work for the government. It's the "too many people in the cart, not enough pulling it" situation. And worst of all, the government holds so many monopolies. You can't shop around for a better product or price. You live in the USA, you pay the IRS whatever they exact. And you pay, even if you do not use the service.
Comfortably Numb February 20, 2013 at 02:55 AM
Government Monopoly!!!! I hear ya, I was trying to buy a Senator last week but none were available in my price range. Total price gauging, ugh.

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