New South Jersey bus service starts June 1

South Jersey’s newest bus service , the Pureland East-West Community Shuttle, will begin operation tomorrow morning.  The service will run from the Avandale Park & Ride in Sicklerville to the Pureland Industrial Complex via Williamstown, Glassboro, Mullica Hill, and Swedesboro.

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The service will operate 5 trips in the morning, and 5 trips in the afternoon, Monday-Friday.  Click here for a full schedule.  Funding is coming from the Federal Transit Administration and nonprofit sources. Fares will be only $1.

The new shuttle will greatly improve connectivity between towns in Gloucester County. Currently the 28-mile trip from the Avandale Park & Ride to Swedesboro takes 2 hours by bus, requiring a transfer in Camden.  The 12-mile trip from Glassboro to Swedesboro also requires a 1.5 hour bus ride to Camden and back.  The shuttle will cut these trips down to 50 minutes from Avandale Park & Ride and 23 minutes from Glassboro.

The Pureland East-West Community Shuttle is meant to provide access to employment in the industrial complex, and fill a gap in the transit network in the area, which consists mostly of north-south NJ Transit routes. The shuttle connects these routes, providing the only east-west service in the area. NJ Transit has agreed to offer free transfers to  passengers connecting from the new service.

LA Metro Rail Ridership Breakdown: 2014

This comes from 2014 weekday ridership, data based on boardings in both directions.  The Metro Red and Purple lines, which together constitute the heavy rail transit system in LA, have the highest ridership, with above 150,000 boardings a day.

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The busiest stations are all transfer points:  Union Station for the Gold Line and Metrolink, 7th/Metro Center for the Blue and Expo Lines, Wilshire/Vermont for transfers between the Red and Purple Line branches, and North Hollywood for the Orange Line busway.

When reading this chart, remember that stations between Wilshire/Vermont and Union Station are served by twice the number of trains as the stations past Wilshire/Vermont.

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Union Station by far is the busiest station on the line, where most passengers get off and transfer to the Red/Purple Lines.  Few passengers actually ride through between the Eastside Extension and the line to Pasadena, i.e. this station has very high turnover.

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Los Feliz and Silver Lake demand better DASH service.

Like many Los Angeles neighborhoods, Los Feliz is served by DASH, a local circulator bus service run by the City of LA.  The Los Feliz DASH runs every 15-20 minutes from 7am to 7pm. On the weekend, a similar route to the Griffith Observatory runs every half hour.

I have criticized DASH before for running meandering, zig-zag routes and one-way loops.  Neither of these are ideal paths for a transit line, mainly because most human travel does not occur in zig-zags or one-way loops.

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The Los Feliz DASH is not one loop, but two.

Enough has been enough.  The chairs of the Los Feliz and Silver Lake Neighorhood Councils are calling for a simplified, expanded DASH route that would serve both neighborhoods.

The chair from Los Feliz, Luke Klipp, is a transportation analyst.  The proposed route would run via Hyperion, Fountain, and Vermont.  Service on Hillhurst would be dropped, as would circuitous loops and one-way operation.

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It’s time to change fares on NJ Transit’s River Line

A proposed 9% fare increase on NJ Transit has provoked popular consternation among commuters.  Local bus fares are receiving a slightly lower increase of about 6%.  The base fare will rise from $1.50 to $1.60.  Fares on the Newark Light Rail and River Line would be subject to the same increases. The River Line sees about 9,000 passengers on an average weekday.

The River Line’s fares are absurdly low.  The line is 34 miles long and takes over an hour to ride end-to-end, yet the fares are the lowest charged anywhere on the NJ Transit system.  Gtw_riverline

You can get from Trenton to Camden for $1.50. A parallel trip on SEPTA’s Trenton Line to Philadelphia would cost $9,

While the River Line charges a flat fare, local NJ Transit buses along the same route charge a zone fare.  The route is divided into zones, and passengers who wish to cross a zone boundary pay a higher fare.  The 409, which runs between Philadelphia, Camden, and Trenton along a parallel route, would cost $4.40 for a trip between Camden and Trenton. This is a seven zone ride.

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Comparing Headways: Then and now

When people wax nostalgic about the early 20th century transit systems in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Railway and Pacific Electric, you will often hear phrases like, “it was the best public transportation system in the world!” and statistics about how large the systems were.

But what really made the prewar electric railway systems great was how often they ran. This post will compare transit service in the “golden age” and now.

Washington and York Boulevards

LARy’s W line streetcars ran from York Boulevard in Highland Park along Monte Vista Street, Marmion Way, and North Figueroa to Downtown.  The other end of this route ran from Downtown along W. Washington Boulevard.

The York Boulevard part of the W line is now mostly covered by Metro’s line 83.  The Washington Boulevard portion of the route is now covered by Metro’s line 35.

In 1925, LARy added more streetcars to the W line, bringing rush hour headways to 2 1/2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes in the evening.

Current transit service is nowhere near this frequency.On Washington Boulevard, Metro’s line 35 runs every 11 minutes in the morning and every 15 minutes during the evening peak.

In Highland Park, line 83 runs even less frequently, about every 20 minutes during rush hours. Although to be fair, the Gold Line runs nearby and offers light rail service every six mintues during peak periods.

  • AM peak headway, 1925: 2.5 minutes
  • AM peak headway, line 35, 2015: 11 minutes
  • AM peak headway, line 83, 2015: 20 minutes
  • PM peak headway, 1925: 2 minutes
  • PM peak headway, line 35, 2015: 15 minutes
  • PM peak headway, line 83, 2015: 20 minutes
  • Gold line peak headway, 2015: 6 minutes.

Excluding the Gold Line, Highland Park only receives about 10% of the transit service it received 90 years ago.  Service on Washington Boulevard has also been severely eroded, but in this case there’s no nearby light to takes its place.

Santa Fe Avenue & Pacific Boulevard

These streets are served by Metro’s line 60 bus service between Downtown Los Angles and Huntington Park. This bus runs every 6 minutes in the AM rush hour, every 15 minutes in the middle of the day, every 6 minutes in the PM rush, and every 30 minutes at night.

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Changes to Van Nuys Flyaway, including a connection with the Orange Line

Flyaway is an bus service operated by Los Angeles World Airports that provides express service from LAX to Union Station, Westwood, Hollywood, Santa Monica, and a terminal near Van Nuys Airport. The Van Nuys route is Flyaway’s busiest, with almost a million passengers a year and departures as little as 15 minutes apart.

On Thursday, the LAWA board of commissioners voted to approve a contract with a new operator for the Van Nuys route, including a new stop at the Woodley Orange Line station. Van Nuys Flyaway buses will begin stopping at the Orange Line on October 1.

This connection has been in the works since at least 2012, when Streetsblog LA reported that LAWA was considering connections with the Orange Line at either Woodley or Sepulveda.

The stop at the Orange Line means that travelers from other parts of the San Fernando Valley can connect to Flyaway by taking transit.  Currently, the only stop is a park-and-ride location on Woodley Avenue near Van Nuys Airport that is not easily accessibly by bus.

Since the current terminal is already on Woodley Ave, the Orange Line stop should require only a minimal detour and will likely only add a minute or two to the trip.

The new contractor, Pacific Coast Sightseeing Tours and Charters, will replace the current contractor, Bauer Intelligent Transportation Inc.

The Van Nuys Flyaway is unique in that it may be the only profitable bus route in the Los Angeles region. According to a presentation made by Flyaway to a Metro Service Council in 2014, the Van Nuys Flyaway earned $1.7 million in net fare revenue.  The fare is $8, and the average net revenue per passenger was $1.89. However, most of this revenue is spent operating the Van Nuys park-and-ride terminal, so after these costs, the route just about breaks even.

LA Metro proposes eliminating 5 bus lines

Every few years, LA Metro proposes service changes for their bus network.  This time around, it’s mostly cuts.  Metro is proposing 5 routes for total elimination, two without replacements.

What are these routes?  Where do they go?  Why are they being proposed for elimination?

Line 177

This is a minor route with one-way, peak-only service from from Pasadena City College and Cal Tech to the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab in La Cañada-Flintridge.  There are seven runs in the morning to JPL, and seven runs in the afternoon from JPL.

This is a low ridership route, with an average of about 170 passengers a day, or 12 boardings per trip. This has declined from an average of 260 riders a day in 2010.

While the service links JPL and Cal Tech, the route is not useful to employees at either of the two research institutions because Cal Tech and JPL run their own shuttle van for employees traveling between the two on official business.

JPL will still have bus service on the more frequent line 268.

Line 220

Line 220 runs on Robertson Boulevard, connecting the Expo Line Station in Culver City with Beverly Hills.  This is a single-bus route, operating on an hourly headway from 6am-7pm, weekdays only.  Saturday service was eliminated in 2011.

Ridership is low, but has been slowly increasing since the connecting Expo Line light rail service opened in 2012.  Average daily ridership stood at 280 in 2010, but in 2015, that number rose to 320, an increase of 14%. This works out to 11.4 boardings per run, or roughly 23 boardings per hour.

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A tour of shuttle services on the Morris & Essex Lines

After the Northeast Corridor Line, the Morris & Essex Lines are the busiest on the NJ Transit system, with 3.7 Million riders per year. as of 2012.  The inner segment of the line, between Summit and Newark has more ridership than either the branches.

The Inner M&E is served by a robust system of local shuttles taking commuters from residential neighborhoods to downtown train stations, usually called jitneys by commuters  (These are not the same as the jitneys in Passaic and Hudson Counties).  The area between Maplewood and West Orange may have the best train station jitney service of anywhere in the state.

Interactive map past the jump

Interactive map past the jump

These shuttles fall into two categories:  Neighborhood jitneys and park-and-ride shuttles.

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Legibility in Downtown Circulators, or how LA’s DASH buses could be better

The rail system in Downtown Los Angeles is easy to understand.  You have your Red and Purple lines running down Hill Street and turning west onto 7th, you have your Blue and Expo lines connecting to it at 7th/Metro, and your Gold line connecting at Union Station.

The bus system, on the other hand, is confusing for pretty much everyone, tourists, office workers, and even longtime residents. A single street can have a dozen metro lines to points across the city, all running on their own schedules.

But the city-run DASH bus comes to the rescue.  They run every 10 minutes or less and they charge a ¢50 fare.  The DASH is a circulator bus, designed for short, local trips. They are meant to be an alternative to walking, not driving.

A circulator bus should have a simple, easy-to understand route. Especially for visitors, this is very important to earning ridership. The downtown DASH system is not simple nor is it easy to understand.  It lacks legibility. Here’s the better part of the system map.

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Let’s set up a hypothetical.  A visitor to Downtown LA is facing an 8 minute walk that could be accomplished in 5 minutes by taking the bus.  The visitor encounters a map at a bus stop.  If it takes a minute and a half to figure out what bus to take, transit now takes 5 minutes of in-vehicles time + 1.5 minutes spent figuring out the system.

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Crossing the Other River, or, the region’s biggest transit barrier

While geographically close, New Jersey often thinks of Staten Island as a distant place that does not have much importance to the mainland.  To some, it’s that place where 3/5 of the cast members of the Jersey Shore are from.  To others, it might as well be Long Island.

Staten Island is well connected to the other boroughs, with MTA express buses to Midtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, and the Staten Island Ferry to Lower Manhattan.

But to get to New Jersey, a Staten Islander’s transit options are very limited.  There are no transit services at all that cross the Arthur Kill, the 10-mile body of water separating Staten Island’s western shore and New Jersey.

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This gap in the region’s transit system stretches up Newark Bay, which lies between Bayonne and Elizabeth. A trip from Staten Island to central New Jersey requires taking the ferry to Manhattan and then backtracking (or an expensive taxi ride). The first break in the gap is NJ Transit’s #1 bus between Newark and Jersey City.  But it hasn’t always been like this.

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