Jersey City “punches above its weight” when it comes to public transportation options, but a new study aims to address underserved areas within New Jersey’s second-largest city.
Elias Guseman, senior transportation planner for the Jersey City Division of City Planning presented findings from the JC on the Move study to the NJTPA’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee (RTAC) during its June 13 meeting.
The study explored innovative and emerging transportation modes to address service gaps and expand the network. It was completed through the NJTPA’s Subregional Studies Program. The competitive grant program is open to the 13 counties and two cities on the NJTPA’s Board.
The study found that most trips were between the waterfront, Newport and Paulus Hook; Downtown to those three neighborhoods; and, between Journal Square and surrounding neighborhoods.
Transit service is oriented around peak periods and several major job and activity centers are difficult to access via walking, biking, and transit, according to the study. Traveling between certain places can take significantly longer on transit.
Some communities that are more reliant on transit have relatively poor access to it. Neighborhoods with significant levels of biking lack safe infrastructure and/or access to Citi Bike, the city’s bike share program, the study found. Citi Bike had the smallest drop in ridership among the transit options during the pandemic, down 12 percent in 2020 and 7 percent in 2021, compared with larger double-digit declines across the other modes.
The study recommends expanding existing modes, such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), microtransit (like the City’s Via shuttle) and bike share. Various innovative modes and technologies were scored based on the best fit for Jersey City, the most feasible, and when they might become available. Scoring the highest were microtransit, BRT, and bike share, followed closely by autonomous vehicle (AV) shuttle, mobility hubs, and Mobility as a Service, which is a platform that would allow people to use various modes (NJ TRANSIT, PATH, Citi Bike, Via) through one payment and scheduling system.
The study suggests implementing BRT along John F. Kennedy Boulevard, and reducing the number of stops on local service stops and further studying the best ways to streamline that service. The Via vehicle fleet could be increased to reduce wait times and improve on-time performance and expand service by extending Saturday and evening hours and adding Sunday. The study also suggests adding Citi Bike stations in The Heights, Greenville and the West Side.
The city could run its own pilot AV shuttle program, similar to what the City of Trenton is working on, in an area that lacks transportation options. or It could also work with jitney providers to upgrade and enhance services including transitioning to AVs and/or electric vehicles, improving customer communications, and integrating into a Mobility as a Service platform.
The study suggests establishing a working group of community stakeholders and partners to develop a vision and goals for the Mobility as a Service program. This would include data management groups to address integration of service provides into the same booking and payment platform. Guseman said the study identified several Mobility Hubs where this platform could be piloted, including:
- Journal Square
- Newport PATH station
- Garfield Avenue light rail station
- Danforth Avenue light rail station
- Kennedy Boulevard between Communipaw and Grant avenues
- West Side Avenue and Kensington Avenue, adjacent to Lincoln Park (existing Citi Bike dock)
- Bergen and Jewett avenues (existing City Bike dock)
- Central Avenue between Thorne and Congress streets and/or by Washington Park
The study is being finalized and will be posted to the JC on the Move study webpage in the coming weeks.