More opt for public transit

Published in The Courier-News 9/7/1999
Staff Writer

More commuters are riding NJ Transit, and more of them are taking buses and trains to destinations in the state, rather than to New York City.
Fiscal year 1999 ridership rose 3.2 percent over 1998 figures, NJ Transit officials said. It was the eighth straight year the commuter agency saw an increase in the number of people who use its services. Ridership has risen 26 percent during that time.

The rise in in-state commuters also helped dispel the notion that most NJ Transit riders are bound for New York.

"The perception is that we go to New York City and serve more passengers going there," said Nancy Snyder, NJ Transit spokeswoman.
According to the commuter agency`s ridership report for fiscal year 1999 (July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999), 52 percent of its passengers traveled in the state and 44 percent of its riders took NJ Transit to New York City. Four percent rode NJ Transit to Philadelphia.

Ridership to in-state destinations grew 9.3 percent, Snyder said. Trips to New York City increased 9 percent, she said.
Experts said strong employment, a growing population and bad traffic have contributed to ridership growth.

"I think that congestion on the road is so bad that the alternative of commuting by car is worse," said John Pucher, a professor of urban transportation at Rutgers University. More jobs and higher population in the state are driving NJ Transit ridership growth, Pucher said. New services such as MidTown Direct trains to Manhattan have added riders, he said.
More passengers are expected when NJ Transit completes its Secaucus Transfer in 2002.

"We`re pleased with what we`re seeing," Snyder said. "We`re working to increase those numbers and we expect more, with new services like the Secaucus Transfer and the Montclair Connection."  The Secaucus Transfer would realign the Main and Bergen lines and provide a station for passengers to transfer to Newark, Manhattan, the Jersey Shore and Amtrak rail lines.
The Montclair Connection would link the Boonton and Montclair branches and provide MidTown Direct service to those riders.

In part, the ridership growth can be attributed to increasing employment on the New Jersey side of the Hudson waterfront, in communities like Jersey City and Hoboken, said Martin Robins, executive director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute at Rutgers University.
Ridership to Hoboken increased 5.5 percent, and to Newark, 4.8 percent.
Ridership also increased on in-state bus routes. Routes with significant growth are the 66 route to Plainfield and Somerville and the 62 bus to Newark Airport, Woodbridge, Rahway and the Iselin section of Woodbridge.

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