One of the reasons I moved to Newark (in June 2000) from Hell's Kitchen was the extensive network of public transportation, both between Manhattan and Newark, and within Newark and adjoining areas. The Newark Public Library had sent me, when I contacted them by email about moving to Newark, the "Newark Transit Guide" that NJTransit had offered in earlier years but discontinued. The Library still had some left. It was double-sided, one being a map with the routes and numbers of buses marked, and the other side being a directory of information about using the buses and trains. An inset map of the Central Business District also appears on the second side. Two buses run near me, the #1 (yup, #1 in the entire State of New Jersey), an NJT line, and the #31, a route of Coach USA, an independent bus company.
Nowadays, some of the information that was on the Transit Guide is available from the NJTransit website, but that site does not include a comprehensive bus map showing the network of routes. The NJT website has a Trip Planner at the upper left of its home page. I thought it might be extremely difficult to get from my house to Motor Vehicles (which is situated for the convenience of drivers, not pedestrians or passengers of public transit), but it was surprisingly easy.
My car was impounded when I was stopped by an NJIT cop over a week ago, and he discovered that my registration was out of date, apparently because my renewal form was lost in the mail. In the more than three months since my registration expired, I received no reminder, not by postal mail, not by email, not by robocall. So if, as happened to me, the renewal form is simply not delivered, you don't know that your registration has expired. That is inexcusably absurd indeed, abusive. In any case, until I can get my car back at a cost of HUNDREDS of dollars I can ill afford, all because the State of NJ refuses to send more than one notice of a registration's needing to be renewed; every business in the Nation can send reminders, but not our supposedly businesslike Republican State Administration I am forced to use public transportation again, so am again glad I chose Newark, because I can get to the DMV ("MVC", technically), Police HQ, and impound lot all by bus.
The online NJT Trip Planner generally does a great job, but I'd like to have a transit map to consult on my own. So I sent this message to NJT by feedback form.
NJT used to offer a hardcopy Newark Transit Guide, which was a map marked with the routes and numbers of the various buses and trains that served Newark, but that was discontinued more than a decade ago. I realize that hardcopy maps are expensive, but surely you could produce an online version, as in .PDF format, so people could just take a quick look at what runs near where they want to go, without having to use the Trip Planner each time, for each leg of a journey. Besides, the Trip Planner gives contradictory information. When I plugged in my home address and then just "Frelinghuysen Avenue" as the destination, I was shown a route involving 2 buses, the #1 and #107, which would take me close to where I wanted to go. But when I plugged in 288 Frelinghuysen, the DMV, I was shown an entirely different route, involving THREE buses. Please generate an updated, online,( .PDF,) version of the wonderful Newark Transit Guide. I suppose other major cities would like a comparable online map, but I am mostly concerned about the State's largest city, Newark, and maybe Jersey City, the State's second-largest municipality.
After a couple of days I got this reply:
Thank you for contacting NJ TRANSIT with your comments about the website and the difficulty you are having navigating the site for schedule information. I'm taking this opportunity to explain how to access some of the trip planner features that are featured on the website, below.
As you didn't provide your travel date or the time of day you plan to travel, it is very difficult to provide you with a detailed itinerary because service options change depending on that criteria, as well as your origin and destination locations. That is most likely the reason for the different directions you received, as there may be more than one bus route that you can use to complete some trips.
Our home page trip planner feature was added to the site to allow customers to quickly access an itinerary for the best (fastest) trip options between their Origin and Destination points for the date and time they wish to travel. You'll receive three (3) itinerary options based on the time and date you plan to travel. When entering your Origin and Destination, please be sure to include the city and state when entering an address or intersection. Our system will convert your address into its geocode address that is recognized by all other direction systems (e.g. Google maps, MapQuest, etc).
Similarly, be sure to enter your actual trip date and time, in addition to your specific Origin and Destination. You can choose between your departure time from your Origin and the time you want to Arrive at your destination. For return trip information, simply repeat the query reversing your Origin and Destination Points and enter the time you wish to return (be sure to select Departure time or Arrival time, whichever is more applicable).
You can also use the "Modify Trip" box located above the map on the results page to change your travel date and time, get return trip information, or plan a new trip. If you wish to streamline (customize) your search further, you can also minimize or maximize your travel time, transfers and walking distance using this feature.
With regard to the Bus Map request, please note that unlike our rail and light rail systems that have fixed routes, NJ TRANSIT operates 240 bus routes, with more than 18,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia, As such a system bus map would need to encompass the entire state of New Jersey, which consists of 21 counties. Likewise, services available in the Newark area have grown and changed on a very fast past, with the implementation of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Service, extension of the Newark Light Rail system (formerly the Newark City Subway), and Go Bus lines. Keeping printed maps updated has proven to be too work intensive and costly.
To further assist our customers with planning and visualizing their trips, we've integrated our trip planner feature with Google Transit, so that you can get customized trip planner results for your intended use.
Sincerely, * * *
NJ TRANSIT Customer Service Team
As you can see, the "reply" does not in fact address the issues I raised. I spoke of a .PDF map of Newark, not the entire state, to be shown on the website. The reply speaks only of hardcopy maps. I mentioned that I plugged in just "Frelinghuysen Avenue" in one case and "288 Frelinghuysen" in the other. Everything else (e.g., starting location and time of day) was the same, including a maximum walking distance of 1 mile.
It turns out that I should have called up the schedule for the 107, and checked the route map at the bottom of the online timetable (above), which shows that the bus turns onto Route 22 shortly after it starts up Frelinghuysen. Then I would have been on notice to ask the driver how far up it goes on Frelinghuysen, and discovered that there's only one stop before the turn onto the highway. As it happens, the bus did make the turn, the bus driver (who had a very thick Indian(?) accent) did not seem to understand that I needed to get off immediately, and I had to get off on the highway and walk back perhaps three quarters of a mile, before I could walk up a half mile or so to Motor Vehicles. I just missed the cutoff for the day, and had to appeal to a manager to get permission to tend to my registration that day.
Now I have to go to the Newark Police Auto Squad at 22 Franklin Street to get a release, which I can do by the #1 bus, which picks up two blocks from my house and lets me off at the Four Corners, only a few blocks from Franklin Street. Once I get the release, I can then take the #1 again to get to Dente Bros.' impound lot at the northeast corner of Newark, alongside the Passaic River at the Pulaski Skyway.
I am very angry that there is the absurd extra step of showing my registration to the Auto Squad, because that department was not open Saturday, Sunday, or, this week, Monday! So unless there is a restriction on Dente's charging $10.70 a day for days on which an owner cannot possibly get a release to present to them, I will be charged $32.10 because of an arbitrary procedure that any police officer should be able to do, at any time of day or nite — if indeed there is any reason for it to be done at all. What are the police going to do that Dente couldn't? Look at the registration? Dente can do that. Log onto the Motor Vehicles database to confirm a valid registration? Why can't Dente, as the official repository of impounded vehicles, be authorized to do that too?
In any case, I have to take the #1 bus that says "Via River Terminal" to the Passaic, and walk just under half a mile north to Dente. Assuming nothing goes wrong, I won't have to take a bus back, but can drive again, along any road I want, at any time I want. But it's very good to know how well I (and other people) can get around Newark by bus.
I think NJT should create an updated version of a Newark Transit Guide and put it on the NJT website. It should also give the City of Newark permission to print hardcopy versions for distribution with a relocation package for use by businesses and individuals that are thinking of moving to Newark. The City of Newark should add museums, art galleries, historical sites, etc., on at least a version of the Guide, for distribution as a tourist map. The Guide should of course also contain printed URL's to the NJT website and a tourism website to be created by the City. We need to bring more businesses, residents, and tourists into this fine city. Showing everyone how good the network of public transportation in Newark is would help do that. Manhattanites would be especially impressed that they would not have to buy a car immediately upon moving to Newark, but could use public transportation until they are ready to buy a car. Or they might live without a car in general, and rent one for vacation travel only.