A Look at New Jersey’s Multi-Modal Commuting Options
Many people who consider bike commuting need options to help them extend their commute. Viability of bike commuting for some individuals may depend heavily on the availability of multi-modal commuting options.
Multi-modal commuting is the combination of different forms of transportation to get you to and from work. A common example would be the park and ride. Take your car to the bus or train station and ride the rest of the way. Other great options would of course include the bike. I love the example on Ladyfleur’s blog about the Advertising Agency President who takes his bike the train station, locks it up, grabs his skateboard from the locker there, hops on the train, and once off the train skateboards the rest of the way to work(read the comments).
This is where multi-modal commuting options become an integral part of any commute.
NJ Transit consists of three major types of transportation: Trains, Buses, and Light Rail–bike parking at each of these is important to discuss as well. I’ll go over how you can utilize each in your commute.
I often take the train from New Brunswick into New York City. Facilities for bike parking in New Brunswick are excellent, and there is plenty of parking in front of the train station.
Trains in New Jersey do allow bikes, however, not ALL trains, so you’ll have to plan your commute accordingly. Folding bikes are allowed on all trains at all times.
This is directly from the NJ Transit website:
On weekdays – Bicycles are permitted on all weekday trains on all lines except inbound trains that end in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. and outbound trains that originate in Hoboken, Newark or New York between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. These trains will be designated by a bicycle symbol in public timetables. Trains on which bicycles are permitted may accommodate up to 2 bicycles on each single-level rail car and up to 8 bicycles on each multilevel rail car subject to crowding or the accessibility needs of other customers.
On weekends - Bicycles are permitted on all weekend Raritan Valley, Gladstone, Montclair-Boonton, Main, Bergen County, Pascack Valley, Port Jervis, and Atlantic City Line trains. These trains will be designated bike trains and will accommodate up to 12 bicycles per train. Larger groups may be accommodated with advance reservations by calling our Group Sales Department at 973-491-7220. Bicycles are also permitted on all Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line and Morristown Line trains with the exception of trains ending in New York between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. and trains originating in New York between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Trains on which bicycles are permitted may accommodate up to 2 bicycles on each single-level rail car and up to 8 bicycles on each multilevel rail car subject to crowding or the accessibility needs of other customers.
On holidays and business days before holidays – Bicycles are not permitted on trains (with the exception of the Atlantic City Line) on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, day after Thanksgiving, Sunday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Bicycles are not permitted on the day before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but are permitted on the holidays themselves.
Other times - Bicycles are not permitted on substitute bus service during rail service outages.
Although, access to trains is generally easy, and available at most times. Peak times with standard bicycle frames are not allowed. This is limiting to many commuters, however, it is also fairly standard on public transportation based on increased ridership at that time.
Another consideration on the trains is that there are no racks for bikes on the trains. On bike accessible trains, there are designated areas for to park your bike, but you may have to stand with your bike unsecured. It can be cumbersome, yet, for me it’s been a non-issue.
Check a handy schedule here on WalkBikeJersey.
Bikes are allowed on many NJ Transit buses on front loading external bike racks. No bikes with child seats and or tandem bikes are allowed. At the moment about half of the NJ Transit bus fleet is considered bike friendly.
Bicycles are permitted at all times on buses with bike racks on the front or with underfloor luggage compartments on a first-come, first-served basis. Currently half of the NJ TRANSIT bus fleet is “bike friendly”. Bicycles can be accommodated on all buses in the NJ TRANSIT Southern Division (generally the area from Princeton/Trenton to Atlantic City and south).
I certainly believe that the buses should move towards full accommodation of bicycles, although half is a good start, as well they should at the least be able to accommodate bicycle commuters using child seats.
Something to note: Coach USA also runs commuter routes in New Jersey. My route is run by Coach USA and I do not believe that they are included in the NJ Transit bus fleet statistics. I couldn’t find information about their ability to accommodate bicycles, but, I do not believe that the buses running my route can. From the information I found, you can stow your bike beneath the bus for a ridiculous $10, but I’ll have updated information on this for you.
Again, folding bicycles are allowed on all NJ Transit buses.
I don’t use the NJ Transit Light Rail very often. If ever. But, here is the information from the NJ Transit website.
Bicycles and Segways can be carried aboard River LINE at all times. Bicycles and Segways are carried on-board Newark Light Rail and Hudson-Bergen Light Rail during weekday off-peak hours only (9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.), and all day on Saturday, Sunday, and state holidays.
Customers with bicycles and Segways must remain in the low floor vestibule section of the vehicle. Bicycles and Segways may not be left unaccompanied, block aisles, be placed on empty seats, or cause inconvenience to other passengers. Cyclists and Segway users must hold or secure the bicycle or Segway. The kickstand of the bicycle must remain up at all times. Hanging racks are available on River LINE cars. Segway users must walk their Segway on and off the light rail vehicle and may not ride the Segway while on board.
Cyclists or Segway users must allow other passengers to exit and enter the vehicle before boarding with a bicycle or Segway.
Like the commuter rails, there is no great way to secure your bike on the light rail.
According to a critique of NJ Transit bike-transit options, 70% of light rail stations have bike racks, although none offer sheltered bike parking.
Also notable is that the River LINE offers the only amenities for bicycles on all light rail cars–6 spots to hang bikes vertically. The River LINE also allows bikes at all times.
NJ TRANSIT provides free parking capacity for about 2,300 bicycles at stations and park/rides. Racks are located at about 90 percent of the train stations in New Jersey, at several bus park/ride lots along the Route 9 corridor, at a number of bus terminals, and at most Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and River LINE stations. Bicyclists must provide their own locks and assume responsibility for their bicycles.
Enclosed, locked bike lockers are available for long-term rental at a number of locations. These provide parking for about 375 bicycles.
Racks are found at about 80% of Light Rail stations, and an undisclosed number of bike racks can be found at bus stations. You can see in the picture above the bicycle rack directly next to a bus station. This is a great way to encourage multi-modal commuters to take a bike to work, and use mass transit as well.
Lets hear from you…
What do you think about multi-modal commuting? What does your local government do to make commuting by bike a more viable option? Do you ever commute by bike AND use other forms of transportation?
Hope to hear from you!