By AMY SARA CLARK JERSEY JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Residents in the Heights will soon have their Palisade Avenue bus back, sort of.
NJ Transit’s No. 123, which connects Union City with Port Authority, will soon continue an extra 1.1 miles down Palisade Avenue to Christ Hospital, officials announced. Heights residents have been advocating for a return of Palisade Avenue bus service since Red & Tan/Coach U.S.A. rerouted its 99S to Central Avenue in late August.
The extended route will begin April 5 and continue until at least Jan. 1, 2009. NJ Transit said if there are “enough” riders taking advantage of the extended route, it would continue indefinitely, said Assemblyman Vincent Prieto, who made the announcement at the Riverview Neighborhood Association’s monthly meeting Tuesday night.
The meeting was attended by more than 100 residents, as well as Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, state Sen. Nicholas Sacco and City Council members Bill Gaughan and Steven Fulop. Prieto could not say exactly how many riders constitute “enough,” but urged residents to give up their jitney habit.
“You have to make sure that if we get it for you, you use it,” agreed Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.
But some residents said they are worried that if they stop using jitneys, causing the independent vans to desert the neighborhood, and then NJ Transit changes the route back, it will leave them with no transportation.
Asked about that issue yesterday, Healy said that he understands the dilemma and would himself be tempted to use jitneys if he were waiting for a bus. But he said, “If (Heights residents) really want the bus service, we would advise them to try to patronize the bus. They’re going to have to make a choice.”
Susan Higgins, who took the 99S to her job as a fashion designer in Manhattan, said she’d be willing to forgo the jitney for the new 123.
“It sounds feasible,” she said, “as long as (the 123) comes on time.”
Many residents said they’re pleased to have NJ Transit run the line instead of Red & Tan.
AMY SARA CLARK can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org