NJ Transit bus riders complain of late service, no amenities at stops

Passengers board an NJ Transit bus in Camden, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

Passengers board an NJ Transit bus in Camden, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

It’s not all about the trains.

A survey of people who regularly take New Jersey Transit buses found they often show up late because of heavy traffic, and that bus stops frequently lack amenities that protect riders from the elements.

The survey of 250 bus riders was released Tuesday by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, a transit-advocacy nonprofit focused on New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

“Our survey results show that the riders who are using the system every day know what’s wrong with buses — and have smart ideas for how to fix them,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “Fortunately, we know NJ Transit is starting to take the right steps to fix bus service, like bus network redesign efforts that are coming soon.”

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy has said improving NJ Transit is a priority for his administration. Under his watch, NJ Transit met a federal deadline for installing positive train control, an automatic braking system, and launched a public website with rail and bus performance data.

“We continually review our bus route structure in order to maximize operational efficiency and improve customer experience,” said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder. “NJ Transit regularly looks for innovative ways to identify service improvements and technological advances systemwide.”

According to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign survey, 60% of riders said their buses arrived late an average of three or more times per week, including 21% of people who said their buses ran late an average of seven or more times each week. Many suggested their buses got caught in traffic or had trouble pulling into and out of bus stops because of other vehicles on the road.

More than half of those surveyed said their bus stops lacked any amenities, such as shelters or benches, leaving some riders to wait outside in bad weather.

Riders surveyed said NJ Transit could improve bus service by expanding its fleet and purchasing more articulated buses, which are longer and can carry more passengers. Respondents also suggested that the state create more bus lanes and allow riders to pay with electronic tap cards.

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