Big improvements are coming for students who take NJ TRANSIT to Brookdale. Beginning on Sept. 3, NJ TRANSIT will unveil new and adjusted bus routes in Monmouth and Middlesex counties that will offer more frequent service, longer hours of operation, fewer required connections and direct access for students attending classes in Lincroft and Hazlet.
During the Brookdale Board of Trustees monthly meeting in Lincroft on Aug. 16, college officials joined representatives from the Monmouth County Planning Board, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and NJ TRANSIT to announce the route changes to local residents and the Brookdale community.
“I am absolutely delighted. This has been a labor of love for so many people here at Brookdale,” said Brookdale President Dr. Maureen Murphy. “We are grateful to our partners for working so hard on these changes, which will ease the burden on students who rely on public transportation to attend college. These are some of our most determined, hard-working students, and now it will be easier than ever for them to earn a degree, start a new career, and build a better life for themselves and their families.”
Beginning in the Fall 2016 semester, NJ TRANSIT will expand access to the Lincroft campus, which is currently served by the 833 bus route running between Freehold and Red Bank. The 833 route currently runs every 70 minutes between 7:30 a.m. and 7:15 p.m. and provides no weekend service.
The 833 route will be combined with NJ TRANSIT’s 835 route to create a new 838 route, which will operate between the Freehold Raceway Mall and Sea Bright. The 838 route will run hourly, offering a “single-seat” ride to Lincroft or Freehold for residents commuting from Sea Bright, Rumson, Fair Haven and eastern Red Bank. The 838 will also operate between Sea Bright and Lincroft on Saturdays, running every 85 minutes.
NJ TRANSIT’s 832 bus route will also be extended to Brookdale, running hourly on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The 832 will offer “single-seat” rides to Lincroft for residents commuting from Shrewsbury, Eatontown, Ocean Township, Neptune Township and Red Bank.
Those changes are great news for second-year biology major Zil Shah, who said she often spends hours on the bus commuting between Lincroft and her home in Keansburg.
“It’s a long journey. But for me and many other students, there’s no other option,” said Shah, while waiting for a bus home from Lincroft on Aug. 17. “So I am very happy to hear about these changes, in particular the extension of evening hours. That will allow students to take more courses at different times of day, or spend more time on campus studying during exams. It opens up many more possibilities, and I think it will be very beneficial to Brookdale students. It’s a very big improvement.”
The route adjustments will also expand service to Brookdale’s Northern Monmouth Higher Education Center in Hazlet, which is currently located 1.5 miles from the nearest bus stop.
NJ TRANSIT’s 817 route will be extended to the Hazlet campus, offering service to commuters from Perth Amboy, South Amboy, Old Bridge, Aberdeen, Keyport, Union Beach, Keansburg and Middletown. The 817 will also offer timed connections with the 834 line, providing service to commuters from Red Bank, Leonardo, Atlantic Highlands and Highlands.
The route changes will also include schedule adjustments designed to improve connectivity at major hubs in Red Bank, Middletown, Long Branch and Asbury Park.
All of the route adjustments will be made at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
“NJ Transit welcomes opportunities to work collaboratively with our community partners to devise practical, common sense solutions to transportation issues facing our customers,” said NJ TRANSIT Interim Executive Director Dennis Martin. “The changes being implemented for the bus routes serving Brookdale will go a long way toward providing a more efficient and pleasant commute for students and area residents alike.”
During the Aug. 16 board meeting, Brookdale’s executive dean of University Partnerships and Higher Education Centers Anita Voogt took time out to recognize the interdisciplinary team of Brookdale employees who began researching and working toward the bus route changes in 2012.
The employees, who served on the Student Life Committee of Brookdale Governance, continued their efforts through 2015, when they helped establish a voluntary transportation committee featuring representatives from the Monmouth County Planning Board and area transportation groups. That committee, co-chaired by associate mathematics professor Oly Malpica Proctor, reached out to NJ TRANSIT, which worked out a series of route adjustments that would improve service for Brookdale students and Monmouth County commuters alike.
“Basically, we designed it so that the whole county kind of flows together,” said NJ TRANSIT principal service planner Beth Waltrip, who outlined the changes during the meeting. “Everybody in Monmouth County should benefit from the focus that Brookdale first brought to us.”
The Brookdale Board of Trustees concluded the program by presenting official certificates of appreciation to the planning board and NJ TRANSIT for their efforts. Monmouth County Freeholder John Curley also addressed the dais, thanking all of the parties involved for their work on behalf of local college students and community members.
“I am just so appreciative of all that you have done,” he said.
Check out more photos from the Aug. 16 board meeting here.
Learn more about NJ TRANSIT bus service here.