Every few months, NJ Transit puts out new bus schedules. Most of the schedules stay the same, but this is also a way that the agency adds more buses to routes with overcrowding, and reduces service on less productive lines.
Unlike the proposed service reductions that NJ Transit held hearings for last month, these service reductions are usually minor enough not to require a public hearing. But that’s not to say they aren’t worth paying attention to. Transit can die by a thousand cuts. If buses run less frequently, the service becomes less convenient and ridership goes down. Then, service is reduced more in response to decreased ridership. It’s a vicious circle.
Today, NJT posted new June bus schedules. Many of the changes are routine- adding extra “early getaway” buses from the Port Authority on Friday afternoons, and taking school trippers off the schedule until September. Other than these seasonal changes, here’s where NJ Transit bus service is going downhill (or improving):
56: Buried in the fine print of an under-publicized announcement is the cancellation of bus service on the 56 between Downtown and North Elizabeth. The new terminus is Broad & Jersey Streets, near the Elizabeth train station. The line currently runs once an hour, and the northern segment of the route will be dropped with no replacement, although there are other bus routes nearby.
Frequency on the rest of the route will be reduced from running every hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. However, the route will now run more frequently on Saturdays.
57: Currently, service on this line form Elizabeth to Linden operates every hour in the morning and every hour and 10 minutes in the midday and afternoon. This will be cut back to every 1 hour 20 minutes.
Both of these changes in Elizabeth are probably due to decreased ridership.
84: Two evening trips from North Bergen to Jersey City are being eliminated in either direction, the bus will run every 30 minutes, as opposed to every 20 minutes from 7:30pm-9:30pm on weekdays, ore once an hour on either of the branches.
86: One weekday morning trip from Union City to Exchange Place has been cut to low ridership. Weekend service stays the same.
89: This route currently runs every half hour during peak times, but new schedules bring this down to every 35 minutes. This means cutting two trip towards Hoboken and one towards North Bergen.
In general, NJ Transit ridership in Hudson County is flat or declining slightly, as jitneys have taken many of their passengers on routes that traverse Palisade Avenue, Bergenline Avenue, and other major thoroughfares.
129: One express trip from Secaucus to New York in the morning rush hour has been cut, also because of low ridership.
There have also been service improvements on a few lines, so the news isn’t all bad. A post on that will be forthcoming.
72: Two additional morning AM trips from Newark to Paterson make peak service more frequent. An additional trip has been added in either direction on Saturdays as well.
87: Two AM trips that currently end at Journal Square are being extended to Hoboken Terminal. Another AM trip from Hoboken to Gates Avenue has been added. This comes 3 new PM trips were added to the schedule in April. Ridership is increasing apparently, and this is one of the few NJ Transit lines in Hudson County that doesn’t compete directly with jitneys.
107: 5 midday trips in either direction will now serve the terminals at Newark Airport on weekdays. This is being done to relieve crowding on the 37, with also runs between Irvington and Newark Airport. Passengers from South Orange or Irvington going to New York can still use express trips.
130: A Friday-only 2:15pm departure from New York has been added on weekdays. This line has year-round early getaway service on Fridays and the new trip is not seasonal.
139: A new Friday-only 3:00pm departure from New York was added. Likewise, this is a year-round addition to the schedule.
166: This is one of NJT’s busiest bus lines. New schedules feature a 2:10 and 3:50 departure from the Port Authority on Friday afternoons. The announcement says nothing about these being seasonal trips, so it’s safe to assume these are permanent additions. Fridays usually see some office workers leaving a little earlier than otherwise, as well as a certain amount of weekend getaway travel.
198: Four additional Sunday inbound trips have been added on the 198 from Wayne to Paterson between 10am-2pm. An additional Sunday outbound trip has been added to the schedule at 5:50pm, to Warwick, NY.
320: Two new trips in either direction on Saturdays have been added to the schedule.
Other service changes:
71/73: These routes run make limited stops between Orange and Newark. Inbound, they stop here only to let off passengers, and outbound only to receive passengers. Previously, the first regular stop in Orange has been Main and Day Streets. This will move to Main and Prospect on most trips to allow transfers to the 94 bus and the Morris and Essex at Brick Church.
167/177: Two morning inbound 177 trips are being converted to 167s. The 177 is a version of the 167 that runs express.
New schedules go into effect June 20th.