NJ Transit train service will be suspended if rail union members decide to go in strike on March 13. More than 160,000 commuters who ride the trains each weekday will have to find alternate transportation or work from home.
A contingency plan developed by NJ Transit would accommodate up to about 38 percent of the existing New York-bound customer base.
The plan includes adding capacity to existing New York commuter bus routes in close proximity to rail stations, contracting with private carriers to operate bus service from key regional park-ride locations during weekday peak periods, increasing capacity on three light rail systems, and maximizing the use of PATH and ferry service.
About 105,000 rail customers are bound for New York weekdays. The plan provides park and ride bus service from several points on the Northeast Corridor line. Princeton Junction and Princeton are not included in the plan. The closest park and ride will be at the Hamilton Train Station. Passengers will take the bus to Newark and then must take the PATH to New York City.
“A rail stoppage would have a severe impact on travel in the entire region, as capacity constraints on both our public transportation system and our road network limit our ability to accommodate every displaced rail customer,” said NJ Transit Interim Executive Director Dennis Martin. “NJ Transit will operate a plan that the overall system and region can safely handle to accommodate as many customers as possible who absolutely must travel into and out of New York, bearing in mind that bus service cannot replicate the railroad.”
Park and ride service will operate on a first come, first served basis from five regional park-ride lots, weekdays only, to New York City/Newark from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from New York City/Newark from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. No midday, evening, weekend or reverse commute service will operate on these park-ride routes.
Hamilton and the other four park-ride locations were selected based on their size and parking capacity, access to regional highways, and geographical distribution. Access to area PATH stations and ferry service was also analyzed in an effort to minimize congestion at Hudson River crossings.
NJ Transit will also enhance peak period service on 29 existing New York bus routes in close proximity to rail stations, including the Northeast Corridor 108, 112, 115 and 129 bus routes.
Newark Light Rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River Line service will operate regular weekday schedules with extended peak hour service.
Access Link service will operate normally, but customers should anticipate longer travel times as a result of anticipated increases in traffic, and additional passengers in vehicles.
All existing valid rail tickets and passes with an origin or destination of New York will be accepted for travel on all park-ride service, and will be cross-honored on NJ TRANSIT buses and light rail lines, private carrier buses, PATH and the NY Waterway.
Customers can purchase round-trip tickets to/from New York during morning hours on site from the park and ride locations. Round-trip tickets for regional park-ride service will also be available via MyTix, NJ TRANSIT’s mobile ticketing app.
“If a rail stoppage occurs, NJ Transit customers as well as people who normally drive to work should understand that this will not be a normal commute for anyone — particularly with the potential for more than 10,000 additional cars on the road per peak hour,” Martin said. “As part of our contingency planning, we have reached out to a broad range of employers and business organizations in New Jersey and New York to alert them to the potential stoppage, and we have strongly encouraged them to allow their employees to telecommute if possible.”