I am studying sustainability sciences at Montclair State University as a Fulbright student from Germany for one year. I was really excited when I realized the train stop is just across the street from my apartment in the Village and provides direct access to New York City. But when I discovered the train does not operate on weekends, I was disappointed.
I, along with most of the international students I know, don’t have a car. It took me a while to figure out that there is a New Jersey Transit bus that can take you to New York City on the weekends. The bus passes the bridge north of the campus, which goes across Route 46. However, there is no bus stop near Montclair State.
Adding an additional bus stop near the bridge would be an easy solution to make New York City more accessible on the weekends. There is even a crosswalk already installed to ensure students could safely get to and from the stop.
This bus stop would allow Montclair State students to spend time in the city on the weekends without having to rely on a car. The potential new bus stop would be just a six-minute walk away from the shuttle service bus stop in Lot 60, making it accessible for all students that live on campus.
The closest bus stop to access these lines today is located at Notch Road and Rustic Ridge Road. This bus stop is a 20-minute away walk from the Village and Lot 60 — when you know how to get there.
Google Maps doesn’t know the walkway my friends and I usually take, so it navigates you to a road with no sidewalks. I have walked this way once, and can’t recommend it at all since it’s extremely dangerous. The whole time I was walking, it felt like a car could hit me at any moment.
On my way back from New York City, I usually ask the bus driver whether they can drop me off at the bridge. Some do, but some don’t because they consider it to be too dangerous since it is not an official bus stop. I am also aware it takes a bit of courage to talk to a bus driver, and not every student can see themselves doing this.
I was happy to read that Montclair State President Jonathan Koppell is interested in finding a solution. The addition of another bus stop would have to be negotiated with New Jersey Transit, but I believe it would be a simple and mutually beneficial arrangement.
This bus stop could be used by 5,200 residential students, which is a boon for New Jersey Transit as well as those wanting weekend access to the city.
From what I’ve found, the bus is much faster than the train. Since the trains are often delayed, this is a point to consider for those feeling reluctant about taking the bus. And at just $7 each way, the bus tickets also come at a reasonable price.
For students who do have a car but are not willing to spend a fortune on parking fees in the city, the bus stops Allwood Park & Ride and Willowbrook Park & Ride provide enough parking spaces and a good bus connection to the city.
As for the rest of us, we want the full extent of what we were promised at Montclair State. Access to New York City doesn’t mean much if it’s only available during the week when most people are busy, so I hope this proposal can be considered as a possible solution to an all-too-common problem.