The complexities of commuting in New Jersey can be daunting, according to an article by Christopher Maag in the North Jersey Record and other Gannett papers (Sept. 10).  The most significant problem facing commuters into Manhattan remains the construction on the I-495 connector to the Lincoln Tunnel, which will delay cars and buses and likely force commuters onto NJ Transit trains, further overloading the fragile rail service. But you may not have thought of all the possibilities to aid your journey, writes Maag after a week of riding NJT trains and buses. Maag says he was looking for surprises, and found some.

You may have more options than you think, Maag says, and it's not easy to find out about all of them. Take park and ride lots; Maag says "amazingly, NJ Transit maintains no central website informing commuters about its park and ride lots." One thing NJT does do, is plaster its buses with ads for the Vice Lombardi Park & Ride lot. Maag says to try it, it's half empty, and a round-trip bus ticket and all-day parking costs just $9.75. You do have to juggle four pieces of paper: receipt, parking pass, and two bus tickets to the Port Authority and back, and the Lombardi service area was once characterized as the most dangerous in the country.  Bus riders into Manhattan should consider avoiding the midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal and opt instead for one of the seven NJT bus routes that use the George Washington Bridge to the newly-reburbished bus terminal uptown. Riders say the reburbishment project was a horror, but now things are just fine at the terminal.

For rail riders, the continuing uncertainty about whether their train will actually run is now accompanied by fears that riders and drivers displaced from the Lincoln Tunnel will swarm onto their trains. As the road project proceeds, it will become clearer how serious this effect will be.

Underlying all these problems, Maag writes, is the entire NJT transportation system, which he characterizes as "irrational." He points to the fact that trains from North Jersey go to Hoboken instead of Manhattan, where most riders want to go. NJT's bus map, he says, "looks like a plate of spaghetti." (If you can find a map of the whole system, that is. We've never seen one, which makes it hard to figure out which buses go to where you're headed.) Somehow, most commuters eventually figure out a coping mechanism, adjusting their departure times or switching between trains and buses from day to day. Or, as Brendan Myers of New City, N.Y. does: find a really long book to read.