- Published: 17 April 2014
- Written by John Bobsin
NJ Transit suggests many options for motorists inconvenienced by the two-year shutdown of the northbound Pulaski Skyway, which began April 12. Full-page newspaper ads, such as appeared in the Star-Ledger on April 13, included a variety of bus and rail routes to reach destinations in Hoboken, Jersey City, and even Manhattan; NJT has similar publicity on its website. One logical route for motorists whose ultimate destination lies east of the Hudson would be NJT's frequent train service to New York's Penn Station, where subways, buses, and connecting railroads provide service to all points. But NJT's publicity completely ignored this option, and curious observers are wondering why. It could be that New York trains in peak hours are overcrowded and NJT was afraid that additional riders might cause an intolerable situation. It may also be that NJT has realized the advantage of promoting lesser-used routes, something that the Lackawanna Coalition has long advocated.
NJT's suggested options for Pulaski drivers include rail, bus, light rail, and PATH rapid transit options. Trains recently added to schedules are prominently promoted, including Morris & Essex Lines trains running between Summit and Hoboken, and an additional train recently restored from Bay Head on the North Jersey Coast Line, also to Hoboken -- this train had not run since Hurricane Sandy. NJT encourages riders to transfer from trains at either Hoboken or Newark Penn Station, using local buses, PATH trains, or ferries from Hoboken to Manhattan. Raritan Valley riders will have extra cars on peak trains, and are also told to transfer at Newark to local buses or PATH, but NJT trains to New York are not mentioned, nor are any trains on NJT's heavily used Northeast Corridor line -- all of which run to New York. Bus options include a new peak-hour-only express bus route (#95) on the Route 22 corridor, running from a Sears parking lot in Watchung to Newark Penn Station, where again, riders are told to transfer to local buses or PATH, not NJT trains. NJT also mentions a Suburban Transit route from the Haynes Avenue free park-and-ride lot near Newark Liberty International Airport; these buses cost just $2 for a trip to PATH stations in Jersey City (but these buses will have to compete with traffic diverted from the Pulaski Skyway). And NJT has enhanced off-peak and Saturday service on the #119 bus route from Bayonne to Jersey City and New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, although it's not clear that this corridor would be affected by the Pulaski project.
The closing of the Pulaski Skyway generated much media attention on the first weekday of the closing, Monday, April 14. But feared traffic jams did not develop, leading to a "nonevent." However, traffic was expected to be lighter in the first week or two of the project, owing to spring school vacations. The true impact of the closing may not be apparent for a week or two.
NJT's suggested alternatives can be found on a link prominently displayed on its Web home page, www.njtransit.com; NJ Department of Transportation has a more comprehensive page on Pulaski alternatives at http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/roads/pulaski/transit.shtm.
The Lackawanna Coalition believes that alternatives to travel to New York Penn Station need to be emphasized and promoted by NJ Transit, as service to New York Penn has reached capacity limits in peak hours. These alternatives particularly include service to Hoboken, which has been seriously reduced in recent years. More service to Hoboken is needed, and riders should be encouraged to travel via Hoboken by reducing fares to Hoboken compared to fares to New York .
- Published: 09 April 2014
- Written by John Bobsin
Newark Liberty International Airport's monorail system is showing its age, and it will shut down May 1 for a 75-day overhaul, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the transportation system, reported by Steve Strunsky in the Star-Ledger (April 9). The monorail is the only way to get from NJ Transit's airport station to the airport's terminals, so train service will also be suspended during the repair period. The repairs include fixes to the steel and epoxy running surface; the years of service have eroded 60 spots along the 6.3-mile system. Buses from airport terminals to Newark Penn Station will replace the monorail.
Read the complete story at:
- Published: 13 May 2013
- Written by John Bobsin
A month-long investigation by New York public radio station WNYC, New Jersey Public Radio, and the (Bergen) Record newspaper has resulted in extensive reporting questioning NJ Transit's response to Hurricane Sandy (which struck the region October 29, 2012). The report contrasts the extensive damage suffered by NJT in comparison with the generally minor damage to other transit systems, and attributes the damage to NJT's ignoring warnings both long before the storm and as the storm approached; bad decisions regarding storing equipment; and NJT's response to a public information request (nearly all of the reply was blacked out).
The report may be viewed here.
Author Kate Hinds was interviewed on WNYC's Brian Lehrer talk show Monday morning, May 13. The segment replayed NJT Executive Director Jim Weinstein's testimony on NJT's Sandy response; Weinstein had said that the models that NJT used in forecasting hurricane damage predicted that the probability that the Meadows rail storage yard would not flood was 80-90%. This sparked pointed comments from host Brian Lehrer, who noted that 10-20% damage probability to billions of dollars in assets should have sparked immediate defensive action; Lehrer asked if you would get on an airplane if there was "only" a ten percent chance of a crash! Hinds noted that other agencies, such as Metro-North Railroad, used the same computer software to estimate storm impact, but seemed to have prepared their strategies in advance and did not input possibly faulty data into the software. A US Weather Service expert was brought in; he commented that the numbers used to predict the course of the storm, including its course and forward speed, were completely wrong. Hinds and Lehrer also discussed possible political impacts on NJT's actions. Hinds noted that planning for environmental disaster might not be a wise course in an organization that works for NJ Gov. Christie, who has slashed funding for environmental preparedness. She also noted that the relationship between NJT Director Weinstein and his boss, NJ Transportation Commissioner James Simpson was frosty: "They don't get along at all." Finally, she noted that while Gov. Christie has been getting high marks for the overall New Jersey response to the storm, there has been little public discussion of the experience of NJ Transit, which is part of Gov. Christie's responsibilities.
Following legal action by the Record, NJT did release part of their storm planning document. Apparently it was a very slim plan, nothing like the more comprehensive plans created by other railroads, which had much better experiences when Sandy struck.