NEWARK, NJ – NJ Transit will host a meeting for Newark residents this Thursday to gain a public insight into how to improve the city’s bus service.

When NJ Transit launched NewBus Newark earlier this year, it became an initiative to rethink local bus travel in the Newark area based on current transit markets and service levels by examining 38 routes in the area. A draft plan is expected to be presented in the spring of this year with a completed study and final recommendations to be presented later this summer.

“The NewBus Newark Study marks the first initiative to restructure the local interstate bus network in the Newark area in several decades,” NJ Transit officials said in a statement. “NewBus Newark will analyze and evaluate the performance of the 38 local routes in and around Newark: Where people live; Where people work; How people travel. ”

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Once community contributions are gathered, these insights will be used to design a new network that will meet the city’s current mobility needs.

The meeting comes as transit officials reported that while the interstate bus network has seen steady growth, local services have seen a drop in passenger numbers in recent years, an indication that current bus routes are not meeting customer needs.

After the COVID-19 pandemic also changed travel patterns, officials said this has become an opportunity to respond to emerging needs now and ensure a more robust service system for the future.

After reviewing data from the U.S. Census, NJ Transit’s passenger databases, and customer satisfaction surveys to learn more about local transit demand and driver usage of the network, officials found that the 38 routes were on the 38 routes in October 2019 an average of 180,000 drivers were transported each weekday.

Half of these drivers only use 7 of the 38 bus routes, according to NJ Transit.

The routes are: 1-Newark; 13-Broad Street-Clinton Avenue; 21 Main Street; 25-Springfield Avenue; 27-mount prospect; 34-Market Street; and 94-Stuyvesant Crosstown.

With 44% of Newark residents lacking a car, 58% of households below $ 35,000, and 80% taking the bus five or more times a week, transit bus services are becoming a major source of transportation for Newarkers.

The data also reported that a significant proportion of trips in all travel modes (driving, transit, cycling) were for non-work purposes such as shopping, healthcare, education and recreation. However, according to the study, only 30% of trips on the NJ Transit bus were traffic-free.

Although NJ Transit is widely used for business travel because of the more service available during typical commute times – early morning and late afternoon – NJ Transit officials noted that they could potentially increase the number of drivers by using the service for non-working purposes with increased service during operation at noon and in the evening.

“The built environment has a direct impact on the ability of transit to be an attractive mode of travel,” officials said. “Transit is most successful when there is a concentration of people and jobs, a variety of destinations that generate demand all day and all week, and walkable, people-oriented streets.”

Two virtual public participation sessions are scheduled for April 8, the first starting at 3 p.m. and the second at 6 p.m. Residents can register at https://www.njtransit.com/newbus.