New Jersey Transit has changed the rules for bicycles on weekend trains again. The ban on bikes applies only between Secaucus and Penn Station, New York, so riders can take a bike on the train between points within New Jersey. Riders cannot take bicycles to Penn Station on trains that leave Dover after 7:05 a.m. and before 11:05 a.m. In the afternoon and evening, the 4:11 from Penn Station is the last train until 8:11 that can take bikes.
The newly-relaxed rule does not provide much help to riders on the Morris & Essex Line. PATH allows bikes at all times on weekends, but the only connection between the M&E and PATH is at Hoboken, which is served by Montclair trains, which only run every 2 hours. It is not practical for riders to use the train between Hoboken and Secaucus, because the waiting time between trains at Secaucus is at least 45 minutes.
The Lackawanna Coalition has called for hourly service between Montclair and Hoboken, to provide a Hoboken connection for all M&E trains on weekends.
New Jersey Transit announced on Monday, August 6th, that it would relax some of the weekend restrictions against the use of bicycles on trains, beginning on Saturday, August 11th. The restrictions that went into effect in July prohibited bicycles on all inbound trains that would arrive at their terminals in Newark, Hoboken, or New York between 9:00 and 12:00 in the morning, and leaving those terminals between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. The regulation does not apply to trains going in the opposite direction, which would carry New York-based cyclists to New Jersey.
NJT announced that the weekend restriction would no longer apply to trains that terminate in Hoboken, or Raritan Valley Line trains that terminate at Newark. The restrictions on weekend bicycle use on the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast, and Morris & Essex (M&E) lines remain in full force and effect.
Cyclists on the M&E line must take the 7:05 train from Dover, or an earlier train, to reach their destination before the restricted period begins. They must also leave Penn Station on the 4:11 train, or wait until 8:11; a gap of 4 hours. Although trains on the Gladstone Branch may now carry bicycles, Gladstone trains terminate at Summit on weekends. Cyclists cannot use M&E trains east of Summit during the restricted hours, so they are subject to the same restrictions as M&E riders.
The only improvement for riders on our rail lines is that cyclists getting on trains at Bay St. (Montclair), Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, or Watsessing Avenue can now use 2 trains to Hoboken and 1 train from Hoboken that they could not have used before.
Cyclists Win Some and Lose Some; Public Not Consulted
New Jersey Transit implemented new policies regarding bringing bicycles onto trains on July 1st. The victory for bike riders was that bikes can now be brought onto trains at all stations, not only stations with high-level platforms.
The loss for bike riders is that cyclists from New Jersey have few options if they wish to take their bikes into or toward New York City on a weekend day. Cyclists from the Garden State cannot bring their bikes onto trains scheduled to arrive in New York, Newark, or Hoboken between 9 a.m. and 12 noon, or leaving those places between 5 and 8 p.m. Cyclists on the Morris & Essex Line cannot take a train to New York later than #6912, which leaves Dover at 7:05 a.m. Returning, they must be on the 4:11 p.m. train from Penn Station, or they cannot leave the City until 8:11. There are no comparable restrictions on cyclists bringing their bikes from New York on trains that allow them to ride in New Jersey for the day.
The new policies were implemented by the NJT Board on recommendation of the North and South Jersey Transportation Advisory Committees, which do not allow members of the public to attend their meetings. There were also no hearings conducted concerning the new weekend restrictions.
The Coalition has objected to the new weekend restrictions on grounds of their severity and the lack of public input before they were approved and implemented. Coalition Secretary Gary Kazin, an avid cyclist, characterized the weekend policy as “insane”.
Several months ago, NJ Transit modified its bicycle-on-board-trains policy to prohibit use of bicycles at stations that do not have high-level platforms; this ended bike use at many popular stations that lack high-level platforms, including the Hoboken Terminal. An outcry from bicyclists ensued; now NJT has updated their policy). However, the new policy, available as a press release on the NJT website and effective July 1, adds serious restrictions on weekends to the use of bicycles, as it simultaneously allows (once again) bike use at low-level-platform stations. New Jersey cyclists, eyeing the massive program in New York City that makes city streets more accessible to bicycles, have been using NJT to reach Manhattan to explore the city, most often on weekends when city streets are less crowded with motor traffic. Under the new policy, this will be much more diffficult, as NJT has now banned bikes from weekend trains arriving in Manhattan from 9 a.m. to noon, and leaving between 5 and 8 p.m. New York cyclists who use NJT to reach the attractive cycling paths and roads of New Jersey (and who formed a main part of the opposition to NJT’s high-level-platform-only rule change) will be much less affected. Overall, the result of the multiple rules changes will be to leave New York cyclists pretty much unaffected, while seriously restricting the use of the trains by New Jersey bicyclists.
The Lackawanna Coalition believes that all modes of transportation need to work smoothly together to ensure an effective transportation network.
This article is from Railway Age, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Lackawanna Coalition
Calling it a “newly relaxed Bike Aboard Policy,” New Jersey Transit Monday said it will allow bicycles to board at all of its train stations effective July 1.
But while the policy includes all stations, access is still not at all times for standard bicycles, save for NJT’s Atlantic City Line in southern New Jersey. The policy will also allow train crew members to use discretion when allowing bicycles onboard trains if they have concerns about public safety. Folding bicycles may be brought aboard regardless of the time of day, however.
“We heard from many customers who felt that NJ TRANSIT’s bicycle policy was too restrictive to make riding their bikes to and from train stations a viable option,” said state Transportation Commissioner Simpson in a statement. “In taking a fresh look at the existing policy, we found that some simple adjustments would enable us to significantly expand access for our bicycle-riding customers.”
More than two years ago, NJ Transit changed its policy on the use of trains by bicyclists, publishing (in timetables) rules that restricted boarding or leaving trains with bicycles to stations with high-level platforms: it’s more difficult and perhaps less safe to do this at stations with low-level platforms, which requires the cyclist to carry the bicycle up or down the train-door steps. Within the last year, NJT has begun enforcing the new rules. Unfortunately, many NJT stations do not have high-level platforms, which severely restricts the use of the rail system by cyclists. (NJT’s three light-rail lines, in contrast, are bicycle-accessible; and many NJT buses also are bicycle-capable.) Bicycle advocates, including the New York Cycle Club, protested the changes and began working with NJT’s advisory committee on the issue. Now, change may be in the offing, according to reporting by Larry Higgs in the Daily Record. The advisory committee has recommended that cyclists be allowed to board and get off at all stations, although rush-hour trains would continue to prohibit bicycles. Transportation Commissioner James Simpson noted that New Jersey is “one of the most bike-friendly states”, and said “we’ll try to put the issue to bed at the next (NJT) board meeting”. Meanwhile, NJT staff will do some trials, loading and unloading bikes at low-level platforms. The advisory committee also proposed increased signage showing where bikes could be stowed on various rail-car types, and increasing the number of bikes allowed to be carried on each car. Segway motorized devices also fall under the bicycle policy.