NJ Transit’s board of commissioners today approved a budget that calls for train- and bus-fare increases averaging 9.6 percent, the Asbury Park Press reports this morning from Newark.

The move was depicted as a necessary measure to help close a $60 million gap in the $1.5 billion budget of the agency.

The new fares, which take effect June 1, mean that…

the cost of a one-zone bus ride will rise from the current $1.25 to $1.35. A commuter who rides the train from Red Bank to New York and now pays $301 for a monthly pass will spend about $30 more.

Board Commissioner Kenneth E. Pringle, who is also both the mayor of Belmar and the borough attorney in Red Bank, put the blame for the increase on the state Legislature.

“It doesn’t take courage for this board to vote no. It takes courage for the people under the gold dome to increase the gas tax (to fund transportation),” Pringle said at the meeting. “The people we are raising the fares on are doing the right thing. It sickens me today to vote for this fare increase. It’s about a lack of options.”

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