NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP)NJ TRANSIT has issued its proposals for fare hikes and service cuts to close an estimated $60 million budget gap.

Among the increases is a 75-cent hike for a one-way ride from Metropark to New York. The proposed monthly rate for that route would rise by $26, to $310.

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Bus fares also would rise.

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A one-way ride from Lakewood to New York would go up $1.50 to $19.00, and a monthly pass would go up by $37, to $448.

The overall increases average roughly 9 percent. Last month, NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Ronnie Hakim said she would seek to keep increases in the single digits.

Some individual trains would be eliminated, as would some bus routes.

“I understand they have a deficit, but they should take a look at where they’re wasting money and not improving the system,” Lou Venezia, who commutes daily from Bloomfield, told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond.

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Making matters worse, the system has not been reliable in recent months, said Ann Bonner, who rides the Northeast Corridor from Trenton.

“It’s really been brutal,” she said. “Again, you don’t know who to believe, if it’s Amtrak. I mean, we need another tunnel.”

Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, D-Secaucus, quickly released a statement blasting the proposed hikes.

“To say I’m disappointed by NJ Transit would be an understatement,” he said. “I’m appalled at this terrible approach to transportation policy and astonished by the lack of regard for the working people of New Jersey who rely on NJ Transit to make ends meet.”

“No one should be mistaken – this fare hike would be a tax increase on working people that would fail to do anything to solve New Jersey’s long-term transportation funding crisis. It would cause pain to working class residents without providing any benefit.”

A series of public hearings is scheduled to begin in mid-May.

If approved, the service cuts would take effect Sept. 1 and fares would be increased Oct. 1.

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