Campaign Urges Locals to Report ‘Each and Every’ NJ Transit Issue

NJ Transit

Got a problem with NJ Transit? Report it!

Two Jersey City Heights-based organizations are urging locals to report “each and every” time they have a problem with NJ Transit service. This record, they say, will be key when pushing for the transportation agency to address what they say are increasingly prevalent problems.

“There’s been a steady increase over the last couple months of complaints week to week about problems on buses from people from our membership and other commuters,” says Becky Hoffman, president of the Riverview Neighborhood Association (RNA). “It’s a tremendous hardship for people.”

Hoffman says there are problems on lines going up Palisade Avenue and through the Heights in general.

“The complaints come almost daily, in particular about the 119 bus,” she says. The bus runs through Bayonne and travels down Kennedy Boulevard through Jersey City and Hoboken before heading into New York. “At Port Authority in the evening, sometimes the buses don’t show or the line is so long that there are more people waiting than can get on the bus.”

David Diaz, district manager for the Central Avenue Special Improvement District, the other organization behind the campaign, agrees that the 119 encounters many problems.

“It only runs during peak hours in the morning and evening (on weekdays) for people who work 9 to 5,” notes Diaz. “We are a blue collar community. A lot of us work in the hotel industry or service industry working 11 to 7 or 7 to 11. This means we’re really limited in access to jobs in New York City, which brings down the local housing market.”

“We want to have them come during the course of the day, not just during peak hours, extending service maybe to 12 am or 2 am because a lot of people come back to the Heights at the time. We also need service on Saturdays and Sundays.”

Other problematic lines include the 87 and 123. The 123 and 119 are contracted to Academy Bus; the 87 is run by NJ Transit.

“On the 123, the morning rush inbound schedule is poor in particular for the area above Congress Street,” says Hoffman. “And the 87, which is the route that goes to Hoboken, it gets all bunched up. Sometimes there are no buses, then there are three buses in a row.”

“At the very least, we need to make sure they are providing the service they say they are providing,” says Hoffman, adding that ideally, NJ Transit adds service where and when it’s needed. She says BRT (bus rapid transit) and free transfers between buses would also be beneficial for the community.

For many Heights residents, jitney buses that run through JC and as far as North Hudson and on some lines, New York and Bergen County, have become a primary mode of transportation as a frequent and therefore more reliable transit method. “They serve a critical purpose right now, but they’re proven not safe every time they’re pulled over,” says Hoffman. Recently, many locals have called for jitney safety concerns to be addressed after an 8-month-old was killed in an accident involving a jitney in West New York.

While the RNA and CASID are focused on addressing transit issues in the Heights, they encourage residents from around the city to also report their problems with NJ Transit so their issues can be addressed.

“We certainly encourage our customers to give us feedback on our service–where we’re succeeding but more importantly where we’re not meeting customer expectations,” said NJ Transit spokesman William Smith. He notes that the company also has a quarterly system-wide customer satisfaction survey which they launched in 2011 and a series of forums at major transportation hubs where customers can voice their concerns or ask questions.

To report an issue, call NJ Transit’s customer service line at 973 275 5555 between 9 am and 5 pm. Outside business hours, issues can be reported using an online feedback form.

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.