New Jersey commuters won't have a New Jersey Transit strike as an excuse to miss work Monday, and Gov. Chris Christie says they won't have to worry about fare hikes for awhile to cover the cost of a tentative deal reached with rail workers.
The deal, announced Friday between the transit agency and its rail workers, averts a strike that would have thrown Monday's commute into New York into chaos. It puts to rest a dispute that has been percolating for nearly five years, when the last contract expired.
Rail workers had threatened to walk off the job Sunday morning.
"I'm pleased. I think we came to a fair, reasonable accommodation to the interests of the union and the interests of the taxpayers of the state," Christie said.
Christie said the deal won't lead to the need for a fare hike or service cuts, at least through June 2017.
The approximately 105,000 people who commute into New York via NJ Transit, the nation's third-largest commuter railroad, have endured fare increases in the last six years that have raised prices more than 30 percent.
In early 2010, for example, a commuter from Princeton to New York paid $366 for a monthly pass that now costs $499. The round-trip off-peak discount, $22.50 six years ago, was eliminated and a roundtrip ticket now costs $35.
Christie and union spokesman Stephen Burkert both declined to release details of the deal, which still needs to be ratified by the union's 4,000 members.
"Thankfully for the commuters of New Jersey Transit the crisis is averted," Burkert said. "We are going home to our families."