NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)NJ Transit paid nearly $3.6 million for unused vacation and sick time last year even as it raised fares and cut service.

The Asbury Park Press reports records show 34 employees received five-figure vacation-time payouts, including former executive director Richard Sarles. He received $29,775 for unused vacation time and $15,000 for unused sick time.

NJ Transit spokeswoman Penny Bassett-Hackett told the newspaper the vacation payout policy was implemented in 1996 to discourage use of sick time and encourage good attendance. She said that helps increase reliability of train and bus service.

A spokesman for Gov. Chris Christie said the administration doesn’t support NJ Transit’s policy and favors a “use it or lose it” plan instead.

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