A ‘bus’-y week for Jersey City

Ricardo Kaulessar Hudson Reporter staff writer

With all the problems regarding cutbacks in bus service across Jersey City, last week brought good news on the mass transit front. NJ Transit will extend the number 123 Bus so that it runs further down Palisade Avenue, making up for the change in route of a different company’s 99S bus.

The 123 currently runs from Congress Street in Jersey City to 30th Street in Union City, and through the Lincoln Tunnel into New York. Starting in April, the route will extend into Jersey City Heights, and down Palisade Avenue near Christ Hospital.

The Coach USA/Red and Tan 99S bus had previously run down Palisade Avenue until it changed its route in August of last year. The new service is scheduled to start April 5 for a nine-month trial run.

At a Tuesday meeting of the Riverview Neighborhood Association (RNA), state Sen. Nicholas Sacco and state Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, who both represent the Palisade Avenue area where the Coach USA/Red and Tan 99S bus service used to run, made the announcement on the number 123 extension. More than 100 people attended the meeting.

Mory Thomas, who has lived on Palisade Avenue near the Jersey City-Union City border for nine years, said he works in Manhattan and was dependent on the previous 99S bus to get to work. He has mixed feelings about the extension.

“It is not the best solution, but I understand why it is being done,” Thomas said. “This will add another 15 to 20 minutes to my commute, but I hope after the nine months, we get a bus that travels the old route.”

Becky Hoffman, the president of the RNA, thanked all the officials at Tuesday’s meeting and said she hoped that the audience will use the 123 bus.

“I think NJ Transit saw the public response,” Hoffman said after the meeting, “and that we had the demand for a bus on Palisade Avenue.”

Also, members of the audience addressed a variety of transit issues, from what will happen when the trial run of the 123 bus ends, to the pros and cons of the jitney buses.

In addition, a new bus running from the southern part of the city to Journal Square starts service this coming Monday (see sidebar).

Long battle

Local, county, and state officials representing Hudson County had met with NJ Transit officials for several months to make the extension happen on behalf of the RNA and hundreds of other residents of Palisade Avenue and neighboring streets who had depended on direct bus service to their jobs in New York City.

At Tuesday’s meeting were Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, and City Councilman Bill Gaughan, and other elected officials. Gaughan, who represents much of northern Jersey City where the extended-route 123 bus will be running, praised the RNA for leading a campaign to get bus service restored to Palisade Avenue.

Sacco, who serves as chairman of the Transportation Committee in the state legislature, thanked everyone from Mayor Healy to state Sen. Sandra Cunningham.

Sacco in particular thanked Prieto for being the “good cop” in the negotiations with NJ Transit. Sacco went on to say that he refused to talk to NJ Transit until the extension happened.

“It seemed the attitude from NJ Transit towards Jersey City was we would be second class to people in Bergen County and Passaic,” Sacco said.

Sacco also said the argument that NJ Transit used to resist the extension was that there were only a 100 people a day using the previous bus that ran on Palisade Avenue. But Sacco told them that he estimated ridership to be closer to 300 a day.

He also asked people to not use the jitney vans that currently serve Palisade Avenue, in order to maintain a strong ridership on the 123 bus.

Prieto thanked the audience for sending postcards and letters to state officials and NJ Transit.

Mayor Healy said he has talked to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority last month about funding a study of Jersey City transportation needs.

“Now is not the time to disinvest in mass transit and public transportation, but to invest in it,” Healy said.

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com.


New Greenville-to-Journal Square bus will replace 99

NJ Transit announced a new bus route last week that will run from the southern part of Jersey City to Journal Square starting this Monday, Feb. 18.

The new Number 6 Ocean Avenue bus route will operate between Greenville and Journal Square to replace Coach USA Bus number 99, which will be discontinued this Sunday, Feb. 17.

The new bus will follow a similar – but not identical – route and schedule as the former Coach USA route, serving Hudson County Plaza (currently under construction), as well as Montgomery Gardens and the Beacon.

Beginning on Monday, Feb. 18, the number 6 Ocean Avenue bus route will operate as follows (*Asterisk indicates route segment that is different from Coach USA number 99):

From Greenville to Journal Square:
Ocean Avenue at Merritt Street, Grand Street, Summit Avenue, Baldwin Avenue*, Montgomery Street*, Florence Street*, Cornelison Avenue*, Wayne Street*, Mill Road*, Academy Street*, Summit Avenue, and Sip Avenue to Journal Square Transportation Center Platform C-1.
From Journal Square to Greenville:
Platform C-1 to Pavonia Avenue to Summit Avenue, then reverse of the northbound route. – RK