I’ve been taking NJ Transit for a long time now. Since high school. A LONG TIME. My main routes have been consistent and consistently SUCKY. From where I live in NJ, it is the easiest way to commute into NYC. There are trains but they are more expensive and far away. Driving in is my favorite but between the cost of parking, tolls and the immense traffic, it is also not the most convenient way of traveling. The quick 15 miles into the city should be easier than it has been of late. It can literally take 15 minutes to 90+ minutes to get into Manhattan.
Many days I wait awhile for the bus in the mornings and many available to me are standing room only. That means that all 49 seats are full and you have to stand in the cramped aisle and deal with the driver slamming on his breaks all the time. Last time I did this I injured my knee when the bus driver stopped short. I slid on the floor of the gross bus and ripped cartilage in my knee. Fun? Not so much. Needless to say I don’t do standing room anymore unless it is a dire situation. Other days I’ll get my own seat which is glorious (aka no one next to me) and other days I’ll get the bitch seat. The bitch seat is one of the five seats in the back of the bus, usually shoved in beside someone with a huge bag, large torso, or smelly armpit. I digress.
Monday was a shit show of standing room only buses. These bus drivers don’t even stop anymore. They blink their lights at me. Sexy. Anyway, I finally got on a bus and took a snooze. I knew I’d get to work just on time because of this situation but I knew I’d be okay as long as I hustled. Tick tock. Tick tock. TICK f*cking what time is it? Seriously why am I still on 495? (495 is the highway that goes toward the Lincoln Tunnel.) The bus lane was stopped. Why? Roadway conditions. First they said there was a roadway collapse but then the truth came out. The bus lane closed because of rain. A sprinkle. I can’t. I mean sporting events happen in rain. People drive in rain. This was nothing but a little glistening of rain on a Monday morning. So I was 45 minutes late.
Tuesday. I got to the bus stop EXTRA early. I didn’t want to chance being late two days in a row. 7 buses passed me that were standing room only. 3 stopped to tell me this but I rejected them all. The 8th bus had a seat and one all to myself! I was ecstatic. I had been waiting long enough. I was confident I would make it on time as this is the normal time I take the bus. NOPE. The driver took his time and instead of merging onto 495 when it was his turn, he let maybe 10 people go in front of him. People have to go to work, man! Tuesday= 10 minutes late.
Wednesday. I left super early, I got my own seat again after four buses passed me completely full. I got to work right on time (aka 5-10 minutes before beginning the day).
Is this something that will be a continual occurrence? Is this a new daily torture? Has NJTransit not figured it out yet? For years the riders on the bus lines I take have begged NJTransit for more buses on these routes. More people take the buses now because it’s more affordable than driving or taking the train. My Hubs gets alerts on his phone from NJTransit daily, canceling bus routes during the busy morning commute hours. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?
Let’s do a quick run down of the evening commute. Once in the bus, you are A-OK. I’m 18 minutes door to door and BOOM I’m home. Unless there is road work or a catastrophe, I’m golden.
When trying to get a bus, you go towards your gate and usually see a huge line of people weaving all the way though Port Authority Bus Terminal. This isn’t just for one gate though! So many lines. EVERY. DAY. There are never less than 100 people waiting at my gate for their buses between the hours of 5:30 and 8:00pm. The escalators cannot be on because there are people weaved through the gate, down the escalator and through PABT. The other day I was on a bus at 3:30pm and it was standing room only. There is a gate across from mine with buses CONSISTENTLY getting people. I’ll usually see 6 buses to my 1 bus with maybe 30-40 people waiting at a time. How does this factor out? Have things changed population wise and people don’t want to fix it? Is anyone doing their job over there?
As the population gets larger and larger, I have to ask how this will affect me. I have to ask how it will get better if no one is doing anything. The call center at NJTransit is full of people who won’t listen to complaints. I’ve had them hang up on me or tell me not to be hostile when I’m asking when the next bus will be here. Who can give us the answers? On NJTransit buses it claims that 8 out of 10 people would recommend them. I don’t count this as a superior score; I know I would certainly not recommend them. I see it as not good enough yet. I see it as UP YOUR STANDARDS. I see it as a sign to start satisfying your customers. I see it as a sign to shake things up and make some changes. If you make your prices higher and don’t provide better service, people will figure something else out. People work hard day and night and need a way home. You are supposed to be providing a way home and not a way to hell.
Rant over, Cari= not calm.