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Testimony Regarding Waterfront Transitway -- Phase I

24 January 1991

Synopsis of needs:

Principle Reasoning:

Improving Transit:

The goals of NJ Transit's Short Range Work Program are worthy, to expedite mass transportation in the Hudson River Waterfront area. Since it will take a while to execute long range plans, buying more buses seems appropriate. Due to high cost and placing service where it is not currently needed, building new roads for these buses is inappropriate. In addition, constructing a busway is not necessary because the long range alternatives could be constructed by 1998 -- which is not such a long time -- if NJ Transit and the State DOT put their minds to it.

On the other hand, more buses would not be able to deliver quality transport in the existing roadway system. Therefore, instead of building new roads for buses, the best way to improve mass transport, quality of life, access and mobility in the waterfront area at the least possible cost would be to dedicate existing road space to use by buses. This would make mass transport easier than driving, so more people would use mass transport.

A low cost improvement for bus transit is to provide stand-outs at bus stops. Stand-outs are extensions of the sidewalk into the street, which keep cars from being parked in the bus stop and allows buses to pick up people without leaving the traffic stream. When a bus leaves a stand-out, they are in the front of the traffic stream, so move rapidly. In addition, buses should be given preferential treatment over autos at all intersections.

A more pervasive and effective project would be to institute a network of 24 hour a day exclusive lanes or bus streets to used by transit vehicles only. Transit streets should be shared by bicyclists as well. This low cost project would provide long term mobility for Hudson and Bergen Counties. These bus improvements should be used to improve local bus traffic only, not to carry bus commuters from outside the waterfront into Manhattan.

Currently the busy shops along the streets in the Waterfront areas are slowed down by automobile traffic. Double parking or no available parking is the norm. People having to look for a parking space reduces the number of people which can get there. A deautomobileized street would invite fast transit, multitudes of cyclists and hordes of pedestrians. Remember, everyone who shops goes into the store on foot, so cars are in fact a hindrance. This would invite restaurants to have outdoor cafes, further enlivening the street and the economy.

At the Assembly hearing in August, 1990, Marty Robbins, Director of the NJ Transit's Waterfront Office, commented that NJ Transit is interested in getting into the neighborhoods and also mentioned the importance of meeting the needs of the developers for their new residents. I agree that meeting the needs of the new residents is important, but the proposed busway only meets their needs because it would not get into many of the existing neighborhoods to serve Hudson County residents that are already clamoring for better mass transport. For this reason, some portions of the proposed route for the Interim Transitway and for other longer range improvements are inappropriate.

The following portions of interim busway routes miss existing neighborhoods which can provide instant ridership: Sinatra Drive for the Hoboken to Lincoln Harbor Transitway, the Exchange Place to Hoboken Transitway through the proposed Harsimus Cove development and the Gateway Transitway to Liberty State Park. With the exception of elevators and funiculars, all of the proposed waterfront transportation improvements have ignored the top of the Palisades.

My Proposal for Busways on Existing Streets:

Some tentative routes which are densely populated, densely filled with stores and heavily traveled, thereby would well support transitways are:
Bayonne / Fort Lee Inland Busway:
JFK Blvd. until Union City, where it would cut over to Bergenline Av. using something like 15 St. This change of course is due to JFK Blvd. running along the western edge of the Palisades, so is easily accessible to western residents only, while Bergenline Av. runs along the center of the ridge so is more easily accessed by all residents. Bergenline Av. is also much narrower, so in much greater need of improved mobility.

Jersey City / Hoboken Waterfront Busway:
Another busway should link the JFK Blvd. busway to the lowlands near the coast and the new developments along the Waterfront (described from south to north): Starting at the intersection of Communipaw Av. and JFK Blvd., the route would follow Communipaw Av. to Grand Av. Continuing on Grand Av. the route would then turn onto L.M. Marin Blvd. (formerly Henderson St.) where there should be an excellent covered transfer facility for riders to/from the Grove St. PATH station at C. Columbus Dr. From there the busway would continue along Marin Blvd., and eventually turn right onto 6th St just after passing under the railroad bridge. Then the busway would head north on Jersey City's Washington St., through the Newport development and over the Holland Tunnel traffic. The route then should hook back to L.M. Marin Blvd. to pass under the NJ Transit Tracks.

Since where Marin Blvd. passes under the two railroad bridges is narrow it is highly recommended that Marin Blvd. be a transit only street in order to provide speedy bus operation underpasses, assuring ridership.

After passing under the NJ Transit tracks, the busway would head east along Observer Hwy. At the intersection of Washington St. and Observer Hwy. there should be an attractive transfer station for riders of the NJ Transit trains, the ferry, and the PATH trains. The transfer should be here, instead of the existing Hoboken terminal, in order to improve travel time for persons traveling past the Hoboken terminal. Perhaps a covered walkway could be constructed between the train terminal and the transfer station which would encourage people to use mass transport at times when there is precipitation. From there the route would be Washington St. and then 14 St., both of which should be transformed into an inviting busway/bikeway/walkway.

From 14 St. the route should turn right onto Park Av., and head to the railroad tracks, under the bridge. At this point there should eventually be a major transfer station between the Busway and what will be the Light Rail System.

The busway would continue north to the Lincoln Harbor development and on to the Arcorp property. At the Arcorp property there should be another major transfer station, this linking the ferry with the Busway and what should eventually be Light Rail System. The areas where people will walk between the modes should be covered, providing the best possible conditions in inclement weather.

Here would be the optimal point to have the busway ascend the Palisades Cliff, using Pershing Road and 48 St. to link with a transfer station between the Waterfront Busway and the Inland Busway. Having Persing Rd. be a busway will most likely upset the owners of the Arcorp, but it is actually in their best interest. Currently, since the automobile is the easiest way to access the property, the majority of the used property is a parking lot, which therefore can't be used as valuable retail space. Converting Pershing Rd. to a bus only street will permit large and small buses convenient access to this vital location, which increases both the person carrying capacity of the road and the area available for commercial use, thereby the owners of the Arcorp Property will have the most to gain. This bus only roadway will also most likely be more desirable for cyclists than surrounding vertical access points, increasing the value of the Arcorp Property as well. Essential motor traffic will still be able to descend the Palisades to the Arcorp Property via Hillside Rd. to the north or Boulevard East and 19 St. from the south.

East / West Bus Routes:
Routes which make perpendicular links to the north / south spine routes are essential to make the waterfront truly mass transit accessible. Based solely upon crude judgments from county maps, I would say the following streets would need dedicated bus facilities: Danforth Av. (JC), Bowers St. (JC), 6 St. (JC), 4 St. (Hob), 15 St. (UC), 43 St./Clifton Terr. (UC), 60 St. (WNY).

Paratransit:
Disabled people need specialized service to get to specific destinations or main mass transit routes.

The funds remaining from the difference between constructing new pavement and installing a busway on existing pavement should be escrowed for the construction of the long range alternative.

If for some reason a Gateway Busway is built, which it should not, a concrete path for cyclists, pedestrians and wheelchair users should be incorporated.

Additional Roadway and Parking Capacity are Unwarranted:

Building another exit from the Turnpike and a park and ride lot in the Waterfront area runs counter to the strategies which will increase transit use and will increase the level of driving to and in the waterfront, exacerbate energy use and pollution in addition to undercutting mass transit ridership. New Jersey has a vast rail system which should be tapped to improve access to the Waterfront area. The funds which NJ Transit intends to solicit for the Gateway Busway would be best used for improving the connection between the Northeast Corridor and the Hoboken Terminal. This would tap into the existing excellent transit service and increase it instead of trying to create two competing services.

Understanding the Impacts of TSM:

The Transportation Systems Management measures are measures to increase the flow of persons and goods through existing facilities. The TSM measures implemented as part of the Transitway should be bus specific elements, not increasing the general traffic stream. Such elements are transit streets, bus lanes and bus stand-outs.

The TSM measures should be planned carefully as to not negatively impact upon cyclists, pedestrians and elderly/disabled persons. Some examples of negative impacts are restrippeing streets with more narrower lanes, making cycling more dangerous, or increasing green time for major streets, making it more difficult to cross streets.

Save the Henderson Street PATH repair shop:

The old PATH repair facility should be mothballed in the event it can be used for the long range alternative.


I presented this testimony at a public hearing held by New Jersey Transit on 24 January 1991


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