New morning NJ Transit bus to Port Authority from SO

newstead77

Has anyone tried the new bus service from South Orange to Port Authority?  It looks like a really nice option and also a nice backup when the trains get screwed up.

1) Direct to the city - not going through the Oranges and Irvington

2) Runs peak - 7 am, 7:30 am and then 8 am

3) Comfortable commuter bus (not local buses) - Will take your monthly train ticket

I mention it here so more people take advantage of this option - which I thought was sorely needed. 


And so, NJ Transit doesn't discontinue it due to a lack of interest.




Terry

So a monthly train ticket is valid on these buses?  


newstead77

Yes - I spoke to the bus driver and he confirmed.


jfinnegan

I have been taking it from Maplewood every morning. Hopefully more people find out about it. It has only had between 10 and 15 people each morning. 


Miriam

I have been enjoying it too (the Maplewood one) -- so comfortable and peaceful compared to the train. If you work in midtown, the 7AM bus will probably get you to your office at about the same time as the 7:01AM train.


Sheena

All - here was the language I posted to our Village website in December after we met wit NJ Transit officials.


http://southorange.org/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=1510


SOMA Commuters to Receive Added Bus Service Beginning January 2

SOMA seals

NJ Transit provides updates to local officials, commits to better communication

     SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD, NJ (December 17, 2018)  On Friday, December 14, South Orange and Maplewood officials joined Senator Richard Codey, Assemblyman John McKeon and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey in meeting with NJ Transit officials to discuss service improvements, timetables, communications, capacity and infrastructure.

     This meeting follows correspondence from the towns with concerns and suggestions from nearly 1,000 commuter who participated in providing responses to a survey in addition to ongoing concerns and suggestions that ensued over the past months.

     “It’s been a tough year for our commuters and we want the public to know that we hear you, we’ve been advocating for you, and we’re holding NJ Transit accountable. Implementation of Positive Train Control coupled with engineer shortages have led to an untenable situation for our NJ Transit riders and right now, we’re focused on minimizing impacts and providing better service and certainty to our riders,” said Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca.

     During the meeting, NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett provided the following updates and committed to strengthen communications with local officials and commuters moving forward.


ADDED BUS SERVICE TO SOUTH ORANGE AND MAPLEWOOD TRAIN STATIONS

  • Beginning on Wednesday, January 2, NJ TRANSIT will offer express bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal (PABT) from South Orange and Maplewood train stations during peak morning hours: 7:00 a.m., 7:30 a.m., and 8:00 a.m. Rail tickets or passes from either South Orange or Maplewood respectively to Penn Station New York will be valid and cross honored to utilize this service. Bus service will be an option for train commuters and will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

 

COMMUNICATIONS AND MOBILE APPLICATION ENHANCEMENTS


     In a fall survey of SOMA commuters, eighty- nine percent (89%) indicated they learned about cancellations and delays while at the station, “causing significant disruption to their work or home life.” At the Friday meeting, Mr. Corbett shared the following:

  • NJ Transit has put all key communications personnel into an Emergency Operations Center including rail, bus and NJ Transit Police to coordinate notifications and timeliness of when messages are dispatched to customers across various communication platforms. This was the first step in a comprehensive reorganization of the entire NJ Transit Communications Department to provide better information faster.
  • Customized transit alerts on the NJ Transit Mobile Application were introduced earlier this month and will roll-out to all users by Friday, December 21. Alerts will enable users to receive “push notifications” even if they don’t have the mobile application open.

 

     NJ Transit officials also shared that with respect to Positive Train Control (“PTC”), they have completed a very important equipment installation interim milestone, one which allows the agency to have until December 2020 to integrate, test and fully implement the system in full service. This federal mandate was primarily the source of delays and cancellations during the summer and fall with fewer pieces of rail equipment to operate service. Additionally, NJ Transit is still dealing with engineer shortages and in response, quadrupled new training classes with graduation anticipated between next May and December. Moreover, multi-level rail cars are being added with up to twenty-percent added passenger capacity.

 

     Along with the immediate response to transit customers, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum expressed concern about the status of the Gateway Program and highlighted that the State is encouraging growth and expansion of affordable housing in transit hubs but without sufficient capacity and reliable service, the absence of a new tunnel will have devastating local and regional impacts on the economy, the environment, public safety, and property values.

 

     “This is the most critical infrastructure project in the country and we need decision-makers to step up,” said Collum. “Getting people to work in our region may not seem like a big deal to a Senator in Texas but it should since our region is responsible for 20% of the national GDP. I’m more hopeful following the midterm elections but urge all commuters and riders to continue advocating for this project at all levels of government. We can’t afford another 8-year delay and the time is now.”

 

     Attendees to Friday’s meeting include: Senator Richard Codey, Assemblyman John McKeon, Assemblywoman Mila Jasey, Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca, Deputy Mayor Frank McGehee, Committeeman Dean Dafis, Committeewoman Nancy Adams, Village President Sheena Collum, Trustee Walter Clarke, Trustee Deborah Davis Ford, Trustee Karen Hilton and Trustee Howard Levison. Officials from NJ Transit include: Executive Director Kevin Corbett, Chief of Staff Justin Davis, VP and GM of NJ Transit Bus Michael Kilcoyne, Chief of Government and External Affairs Paul Wyckoff, Senior Director of Government and Community Relations John Del Colle, and Regional Managers of Government and Community Relations, Lawrence Hamm and Jauhara Pressey.


Sheena

From the chatter online and some feedback I got from my emails to commuters, appears there's plenty of space and running pretty smoothly (there was one kerfuffle with a driver getting lost but it was addressed with bus operations yesterday). It's like a VIP Commuter Bus - go check it out and there's wifi...


Adwoa

First, I want to thank the Townships for working on providing the direct bus options from Maplewood and South Orange to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  I understand the 7:00 am and 7:30 am slots but the 8:00 am slot has a practically empty 10-car train coming in to Maplewood.  I've yet to see a cancellation come up on my NJ Transit alerts.  However, commuters would be best served if those needing to leave later, i.e., after 8:00 am, had a bus option.  As a daily commuter for many years, the choices you have after 8 am, are to catch the 8:15 Hoboken train from Maplewood to transfer at South Orange for the 8:22 am train.  You may, or may not get a seat for the trip in to NY.  

Now, lets talk about the 9:03 am train from Maplewood (train #6324), the often cancelled train, which has been going on often last year; throughout Oct., a couple times in November and sporadic in December.  On Jan. 1 and 2 the 6324 was cancelled and combined with train #6624.  The train is crowded when it gets to Maplewood! South Orange passengers literally have to find a good place to stand.  On Friday, Jan. 4 the train is diverted to Hoboken.  There are more train schedule headaches after 8:00 am. I make every effort to catch the 8:33, or the 8:41 (if this train isn't cancelled as well) and transfer at Newark Broad Street to the #6624.  The survey would have been best served with getting feedback from commuters at the train stations who are actually commuting at around 8:00 am; if you find any.  


Sally

Is there any similar bus service back to SO or Maplewood in the afternoon or is this a morning-only thing?  (I'm thinking of what happens when train service is disrupted in the afternoon and people have to go to Hoboken or make other arrangements.)


joan crystal
sac said:
Is there any similar bus service back to SO or Maplewood in the afternoon or is this a morning-only thing?  (I'm thinking of what happens when train service is disrupted in the afternoon and people have to go to Hoboken or make other arrangements.)

 The 107 from Port Authority to SO train station is the only afternoon option I know of that is at all comparable to the morning service.  It is NOT a non-stop option but will get you there.  With the loss of the 31 bus to Maplewood Loop, there is nothing I know of in the afternoon that will get you back to Maplewood train station.  For those not parked at the station PATH to Newark plus local bus stopping closest to one's destination in Maplewood or South Orange is another option.


Terry

I took the 730 express out of SO this morning. Trip was fine and generally comfortable (though the heat was cranked up a bit much for my liking). I was one of eight (8) passengers on a full-size bus, so there was plenty of room to stretch out...but I suspect they aren't going to keep this bus going with such low ridership. 


Miriam

That's what I'm afraid of too, Smedley. It was only full yesterday when the trains had major delays.


newstead77

NJ Transit understands that ridership will take some time to build - so I don't think they are going to imminently cut a service they just started.

But at least people should start considering the bus option - which was the reason for the original post.

I do agree that the timing isn't perfect.  Would have preferred a 7:15 am bus (so, it is between the 6:50 am train and the 7:35 am trains) - but, nonetheless, I like having a new option and an occasional break from the train.


joan crystal

Question for those who have taken the new bus service:  How does travel time to Port Authority Bus Terminal using the bus compare with travel time to Penn Station NY taking the train in the morning?


Terry
joan_crystal said:
Question for those who have taken the new bus service:  How does travel time to Port Authority Bus Terminal using the bus compare with travel time to Penn Station NY taking the train in the morning?

 This was my primary curiosity. Today the 730 bus dropped us off at PA at about 820 -- about 10-15 mins later than the 732 train usually gets to Penn. And traffic wasn't bad at all, if anything it seemed a bit on the light side. It's the local driving with traffic lights and whatnot, before the bus hits the highway that really slows the trip. 

So on days the train is on time, train is faster into NYC. 


jfinnegan

The bus tends to take around 40 to 45 minutes. I work closer to Port Authority so it pretty much evens out and the bus is much more comfortable and relaxing than the train. Plus Port Authroity is slightly nicer than Penn Station, IMO. 


Miriam

Yes the bus takes a few minutes longer to reach the city, but if you work in the vicinity of Port Authority, you will get to your desk at about the same time.  And the bus isn't subject to the vagaries of NJT trains! (I'm sure there are heavy traffic days but I haven't encountered one; travel time has been pretty consistent at about 40m for the 7AM bus.)


Robert

@iwasmim, how many stops are there to PA from SO?  


Miriam

I take the bus from Maplewood, but there are ZERO stops. Board the bus on Oakland down the hill from the train station, and it goes straight to PABT.



fed123
JazziVal said:
First, I want to thank the Townships for working on providing the direct bus options from Maplewood and South Orange to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  I understand the 7:00 am and 7:30 am slots but the 8:00 am slot has a practically empty 10-car train coming in to Maplewood.  I've yet to see a cancellation come up on my NJ Transit alerts.  However, commuters would be best served if those needing to leave later, i.e., after 8:00 am, had a bus option.  As a daily commuter for many years, the choices you have after 8 am, are to catch the 8:15 Hoboken train from Maplewood to transfer at South Orange for the 8:22 am train.  You may, or may not get a seat for the trip in to NY.  
Now, lets talk about the 9:03 am train from Maplewood (train #6324), the often cancelled train, which has been going on often last year; throughout Oct., a couple times in November and sporadic in December.  On Jan. 1 and 2 the 6324 was cancelled and combined with train #6624.  The train is crowded when it gets to Maplewood! South Orange passengers literally have to find a good place to stand.  On Friday, Jan. 4 the train is diverted to Hoboken.  There are more train schedule headaches after 8:00 am. I make every effort to catch the 8:33, or the 8:41 (if this train isn't cancelled as well) and transfer at Newark Broad Street to the #6624.  The survey would have been best served with getting feedback from commuters at the train stations who are actually commuting at around 8:00 am; if you find any.  

This short old train (9:03) has been a problem for the longest time. I stopped riding it years ago because of the reasons posted by JazzVal, but then like a fool, I jumped on it about about two weeks ago, and it was the same old, short, crowded train that I remembered from years ago. There had been no change! 


A direct bus at 9:00 would make great sense.  


Stephen

The buses from Maplewood are OK, but I'm baffled about why they're running roughly simultaneously with the trains. What problem is it meant to solve? The trains aren't terribly overcrowded. The problems come when they're late or don't show. So I guess it's good to have an option, but I think it would be wonderful if they staggered them. 


Terry
Moammar said:
The buses from Maplewood are OK, but I'm baffled about why they're running roughly simultaneously with the trains. What problem is it meant to solve? The trains aren't terribly overcrowded. The problems come when they're late or don't show. So I guess it's good to have an option, but I think it would be wonderful if they staggered them. 

 I kind of agree with this. The buses are great when the trains are screwed up, but that’s not known in advance so it’s not like they can have the buses there only on bad train days. When the trains are running fine, a 730 bus isnt much of an advantage to most people vs the 732 train just up the staircase. So I think staggering departure times could make sense.


FilmCarp

I thought the buses we're there exactly because of the unreliability of the trains.  If everything is smooth they are redundant, but when problems occur they can help you get to work close to on time 


BG9
FilmCarp said:
I thought the buses we're there exactly because of the unreliability of the trains.  If everything is smooth they are redundant, but when problems occur they can help you get to work close to on time 

No transit system one in their right mind is going to put an underused full time service into play in case it needs to be used. That would be fiscally irresponsible.

If its not well used, and that includes when trains are running well, you can pretty well consider the bus service will be terminated.


Jonathan

The 107 from Maplewood has been running for about ,30 years. Pick it up at Ivy Hill. 


FilmCarp
BG9 said:


FilmCarp said:
I thought the buses we're there exactly because of the unreliability of the trains.  If everything is smooth they are redundant, but when problems occur they can help you get to work close to on time 
No transit system one in their right mind is going to put an underused full time service into play in case it needs to be used. That would be fiscally irresponsible.
If its not well used, and that includes when trains are running well, you can pretty well consider the bus service will be terminated.

 The news conference announcing these new buses suggested that they were added to help with the frustration of cancelled trains .


joan crystal

Use it or lose it is a real concern.  We have lost several bus routes in the time I have lived here.


Adwoa

I truly believe bus ridership totals will increase if the buses were staggered from the train schedule; especially after 8:00 am, during the peak period.  If for instance, you had a bus scheduled to leave between 8:15 to 8:30 am to Port Authority, you'd probably see an increase in popularity.  As it stands now, I don't see, or understand why the time slots were agreed upon to run alongside the train schedule, if this option was meant to last.  This seems like a trial period, which offers no relief to the frequent train cancellations and/or subsequent delays occurring after 8:00 am.


Shana

Thanks so much for this info.  Told my husband and he's taken it the last couple of days. Very easy!



newstead77

I just contacted NJ Transit through their site on the staggering of the bus schedules so they are not on top of the train schedules.  

They usually look at everything sent in.  Hopefully they will listen.

If others feel the same way on the schedule - please contact them through the website and send a message.  It's relatively easy and takes less than 5 minutes.

I assume that NJ Transit wants the bus service to be successful, as do we.


The times I suggested for the bus were - 7:15 am (instead of 7 am), 7:45 am and then 8:15 am.



In order to add a comment – you must Join this community – Click here to do so.