On appeal from action of the Commuter Operating Agency Raising Rail Passenger Fares.
By our opinion of December 4, 1978, 164 N.J. Super. 311 (1978), we remanded this matter to the Commuter Operating Agency (COA) for findings of fact and conclusions which were to determine what the books and records of Conrail show for the calendar year 1977 as to: (1) the financial results to Conrail from providing passenger service in New Jersey for that year; (2) whether there was a loss in that year from providing such service; (3) the amount of such loss and how it was calculated; (4) why a fare increase averaging 10% starting October 1, 1978 was appropriate to offset all or part of any loss shown, and (5) the extent to which said increase will offset any such loss.
Pursuant to said remand there was submitted to COA by the Director of the Office of Policy Analysis, at its meeting of January 12, 1979, a document entitled "Supplement to Commuter Operating Agency Determination of Financial Results to Carriers for the Calendar Year 1977," dated January 12, 1979. That document supplemented the "Annual Determination" issued by COA on June 14, 1978 which this court in its prior opinion considered to have fallen short of the requirement of N.J.S.A. 27:1A-17 that the COA (1) investigate and determine the "financial results" to Conrail from providing passenger service in New Jersey for the calendar year 1977 to determine where there was a "loss" during that year, and (2) if such loss is found, whether it is appropriate to increase fares to offset all or part of any such loss.
Pursuant to our previous opinion COA, at its meeting of January 12, 1979, adopted its "Revised Annual Determination of Financial Results to Carriers for Calendar Year
1977" (hereafter "Revised Annual Determination"). In summary it contained the following conclusions of COA:
1. The financial results to Conrail from providing passenger service during Calendar Year 1977 are as follows: For all services operated by Conrail total costs were $98,750,000.00 and total revenues were $41,920,000.00. Therefore, for Calendar Year 1977, Conrail's operation of rail service in New Jersey resulted in a loss of $56,830,000.00.
2. In order to offset part of the foregoing loss shown for Calendar Year 1977, the Agency determines that it is reasonable to impose a 10% fare increase effective October 1, 1978. This fare increase will offset the loss shown by approximately $2.4 million.
3. A 10% fare increase is reasonable and appropriate in light of the minimum impact upon ridership, the cost of comparable rail services, the substantial increase in the cost of New Jersey rail service since 1975, the absence of any fare increase since 1975 to meet the rising costs, the increase in consumer costs in other areas and the comparable cost of other transportation modes.
4. The 10% fare increase will be implemented in a manner to achieve a uniform fare structure on all agency supported rail lines for all ticket classes.
Appellants have filed a letter memorandum contending that the "Revised Annual Determination" still fails to satisfy the statutory requirements to justify the fare increase previously ordered. They contend that the total revenues set forth in the "Revised Annual Determination" in the sum of $41,920,000 fails to include a subsidy of $61.524,000*fn1 received by Conrail in 1977 pursuant to N.J.S.A. 27:1A-18 (b). Adding said "subsidy," say appellants, would raise total receipts from $41,920,000 to $103,444,000 which, when considered against costs of $98,750,000 for 1977, demonstrates that Conrail received ...