I did a public records request and got NJ Transit’s ridership report for fiscal year 2014. You can request it too, or contact me and I will send you the file. The report has station-by-station ridership numbers, and data for each individual bus line.
Here are the stations on the NJ Transit rail system that see the fewest passengers, and the number of passenger boardings they get each weekday.
1 (tie). Mount Olive, 17
Mount Olive is the second to last stop on the Montclair-Boonton and Morristown Lines, in the middle of a small industrial park.
The station doesn’t have much to recommend itself. There are no residential areas in the immediate vicinity, and Netcong station is more convenient to most people living in the area.
It’s also not much of a park-and-ride, with 23 parking spaces.
1. (tie) Mountain Lakes, 17
This station has very low ridership because it suffers from poor service levels, and much more attractive services are available nearby. Two miles to the west, Denville has frequent trains and Midtown Direct Service. Trains from Mountain Lakes only go to Hoboken and there are only 5 inbound trains a day. The area is also served by Lakeland buses.
Mountain Lakes also has very low population density, and only a few businesses.
3. Lebanon, 20
Lebanon is a small, cute town in the country with nice old houses. It has 15 parking spots, so 20 passengers a day is an entirely reasonable ridership number. I assume there are some, but very few walk-up commuters.
Lebanon has relatively good train service compared to Mountain Lakes and Mount Olive. It has 7 inbound and 10 outbound trains on weekdays, some of which are expresses. But it’s also located right of Routes 22 and 78, which provide a much faster travel option.
4. Mount Tabor, 34
Mount Tabor is located about half a mile from the much busier Denville station the Morristown Line, and has seen drastic service cuts over the past year. Most Midtown Direct trains skip the station. The station is also somewhat complicated to serve, because there’s no platform for one of the tracks.
Without explicitly saying so, NJ Transit wants to close the station. Local residents and the Lackawanna Coalition have been fighting against this for some time now.
5. Peapack, 46
Peapack is the second-to-last stop on the Gladstone Branch and it has very frequent train service. There is no particular shortage of parking at this station, with 54 spots and no parking charge. Ridership is low mainly because of the location.
Other than a nearby Pfizer campus, the only things in the area are a small town, horses, and golf courses. The configuration of roads in the area is such that Peapack station is only convenient to the areas immediately around the station. Passengers from further to the west would likely park at Gladstone or Far Hills.
6. Teterboro, 63
Teterboro station, on the Pascack Valley Line, has been the center of a minor controversy. For years, the only practical way for pedestrians to access the station from the west was by walking across the tracks.
In 2013, NJ Transit built a fence to block commuters from crossing the tracks. The pedestrian-hostile alternate route involves walking through a series of highway ramps, so many commuters found other travel options rather than risk walking on route 46.
NJ Transit has refused to built a bridge or any other way of crossing the tracks, which prompts speculation that they may close the station in the coming years. The same tactic of building a fence to block access to the station, and not build an alternative pedestrian route is what killed ridership at Great Notch station.