All aboard!
NJ Transit donates shuttles to increase ridership to Secaucus Junction
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Dec 13, 2009 | 2105 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KEY TO TRANSIT – Transportation Director George Miller (far left) took an inaugural ride on one of the new shuttle vans donated to the town by NJ Transit. Standing with Miller are (left to right) Mayor Richard Steffens, Mayor-elect Michael Gonnelli, and Assemblyman Vincent Prieto.
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Secaucus’ local shuttle service to the train station got a boost last week after NJ Transit donated two new vans to the town.

The 20-seat vans will augment the town’s current morning and evening rush hour shuttle service, which currently serves about 65 passengers each weekday.

There are a number of NJ Transit routes that serve Secaucus that pass through the Plaza Center and go to the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station. But these routes primarily serve the major roads in town and don’t go down many side streets. The local shuttles serve Koelle Blvd., Hops Lane, and Centre Avenue, in addition to larger streets such as Meadowlands Parkway, Paterson Plank Road, and County Avenue, which also are serviced by NJ Transit.
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The vans serve smaller streets and can be flagged down.
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Local officials argue that the shuttle service improves access to the train station, while easing traffic congestion, alleviating the need for more parking and helping to cut air-pollution.

“We received these buses from NJ Transit, but they were federally funded,” said Transportation Director George Miller last week during an inaugural trip across town on one of the vans. “We have a five-year contract with NJ Transit to use the buses and offer this shuttle service. The buses are leased at no cost to Secaucus.”

Each van is valued at $65,000. Since the vans were paid for with federal money, Secaucus taxpayers do not pick up this cost, but the town will be responsible for gas and maintenance of the vans, and will have to pay for any labor costs associated with running the shuttles.

The local service is more flexible than NJ Transit about where it stops.

“There are no specific bus stops,” Miller noted. “If you go to a corner and flag the driver down, he’ll stop to pick you up, no matter where you are. In other words, we’ll stop even if there is no bus stop.”

The town’s shuttles, which are operated by part-time workers, are also cheaper than the NJ Transit buses. The shuttles charge $1 per trip – 35 cents less than local fares on NJ Transit buses. Riders with monthly NJ Transit passes can also use their passes on the shuttles without having to pay an additional fee.

Expansion of decade-old program

Secaucus received the vans under the Community Shuttle Program, a project that enables communities throughout New Jersey to offer shuttle service to NJ Transit rail stations. The town received its first Community Shuttle about nine years ago.

“This is a partnership between the municipality, the state, and the federal government that works for the betterment of the community,” said Assemblyman Vincent Prieto (D-32nd Dist.), the third-ranking member on the Assembly Transportation Committee, who also rode on the van’s inaugural trip. “In these tough times, with the budget that we have, we try to fight for programs like this one that are needed, but which some people want to cut.”

The shuttles operate during morning and evening peak hours, 6 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 7 p.m.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.

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