"New Jersey Transit" (NJ Transit or NJT to its friends) is the State-owned public transit operating company of the State of New Jersey. Because New Jersey is (in the words of so many of its residents) a "transit state," all about people on the move one way or the other across the country (or at least the Northeast), it should come as no surprise that NJ Transit operates an extensive and (all things considered) rather efficient and affordable network of transportation all across the state. All public transportation in New Jersey, except for the Port Authority Trans Hudson and Port Authority Transit Corporation Speedline, a few random privately run and county-run bus routes, and the commuter rail station in West Trentonnote is provided by NJ Transit.
NJ Transit was formed in 1979 when the State of New Jersey's Department of Transportation purchased Transport of New Jersey, the bus-operation division of the Public Service Corporation, a private company providing public utilities in New Jersey. (This company is today Public Service Enterprise Group, which is the electric and gas utility for most NJ residents with significant interests outside the state.) Four years later, NJT took over control of the commuter rail services in NJ from Conrail. Today, NJT is divided into two primary operating units: New Jersey Transit Bus Operations, derived from Transport of New Jersey, and New Jersey Transit Rail Operations, derived from the Conrail takeover. NJ Transit was at its high point during the 90s when it was considered one of the best mass transit systems in the nation, and was in good shape as recently as 2007, but since 2010 it has been faced with mounting funding, infrastructure, and safety problems that will have to be addressed in order to ensure its future.
The bus network is a complicated mess of local transit routes within the states urban areas, and interstate commuter routes, running from suburban areas to New York City or Philadelphia. And there's definite overlap between the areas served by both types. NYC-bound buses mostly use the Port Authority Bus Terminal near Times Square, an infamously crowded and shabby bus station that is still the busiest bus station in the world, while Philly-bound buses generally stop at several points along East Market Street until they reach City Hall and end up (somehow) at the rather less impressive Philadelphia long-distance bus staton. Some commuter routes are run by private companies, using charters (and even buses) supplied by NJT. A few counties run supplemental bus services, as do a few other institutions (perhaps the most famous being Rutgers University's system of campus buses in New Brunswick/Piscataway).note Altogether, it's a very busy bus network, but good luck figuring it out.
NJ Transit Rail Operations itself has a twofold division: it is divided into the Hoboken Division and the Newark Division. The historical reasons for their separation is slightly complicated, but it boils down to this: the way the tracks were laid, some trains (those descended from the services of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, the Reading Railroad, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the Lehigh Valley/Delaware, Susquehanna, & Lackawanna/Erie Railroad) have historically had to terminate either in Hoboken or at the now-museumified Communipaw Terminal in Jersey City, and you had to take either a ferry or the PATH to get to Manhattan if that was your destination. These train lines form the Hoboken Division; they now all nominally run to Hoboken, except for some Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch trains that run "Midtown Direct" to New York Penn through a connector in Kearny. The Newark Division is composed mostly of trains that ran through Newark Penn Station on former Pennsylvania Railroad track, and ran directly to Penn Station in Midtown. Today, the distinction is somewhat blurred, especially considering that the Atlantic City Line (which goes to New York not at all) is considered part of the Newark Division, some Hoboken Division trains run as "Midtown Direct" services to Penn Station as said before along with the inverse of a few Newark Division trains running to Hoboken, and the construction of the massive Secaucus Junction stationnote allowing easy transfers between Hoboken and Newark Division trains, but as an operational matter the separation is still important.
NJ Transit Rail Operations
NJT Rail Hoboken Division
- The Main Line runs on the former Erie Railroad Main Line from Suffern on the border with New York in Bergen County through Bergen and Passaic Counties before going to Hoboken. Some services extend into New York's Rockland and Orange Counties to Port Jervis (on the Delaware River at the tripoint of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania); these services are called the "Port Jervis Line" when in New York and are operated by NJT under contract with the Metro-North Railroad.
- The Bergen County Line runs as a loop to the east of the Main Line, staying more or less entirely within Bergen County: going out from New York, it separates from the Main Line after Secaucus Junction and rejoins between Glen Rock and Ridgewood.
- The Pascack Valley Line runs down the Pascack Valley in eastern Bergen County up to Spring Valley in Rockland County, NY. The last three stations out from New York are, being in New York State, under the control of the Metro-North Railroad (itself under the control of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, i.e. the people who run the New York Subway and Long Island Railroad) but let the NJT trains run under contract. This is how you get to your house in Hackensack.
- The Meadowlands Rail Line is a special-service line from Hoboken to Secaucus to the Meadowlands, where the New York Giants and Jets play. As, at present, nothing ever happens there unless there's a game, trains only run on football Sundays (including that one time MetLife Stadium had the Super Bowl, which is the only time Amtrak trains ever stopped at Secaucus—the better to get fans to this train). There is talk that the line would operate a full-time schedule once the (long-delayed) American Dreams Meadowlands Mall opens (the mall is next to the stadium and is truly massive, containing not only stores but all kinds of other entertainment/recreational spaces; the developers hope to attract not only locals but also foreign tourists, especially ones from Asia and most especially ones from China, as it seems that Chinese tourists to New York go out of their way to shop at big fancy malls).
- The Montclair-Boonton Line is a northwesterly service, serving northwestern Essex County (including where The Sopranos lived, and Montclair, home of Montclair State University). The terminus is in Hackettstown, in Warren County, where the M&M/Mars factory is. It was pieced together from three different linesnote , and only took its current form in 2002. There is talk of extending a branch of it from Lake Hopatcong via the "Lackawanna Cut-Off" up across Sussex and Warren Counties and into Pennsylvania, going to Stroudsburg and possibly going as far as Scranton; work has already begun on this project, but only as far as Andover in Sussex County (expected to be complete in 2016).
- The Morris & Essex Lines, named for the Morris & Essex Railroad, one of the predecessor railroads to NJT, is a joint name for:
- The Morristown Line, which is the former New Jersey main line of the Lackawanna Railroad, with service to Morris County, including Morristown. Morris County is even more Christie Country than the "Christie Country" of Bergen County, in part because Chris Christie actually lives there. It also terminates in Hackettstown, and both ends of the Montclair-Boonton line connect with it, even though both of those ends were originally separate branches.
- The Gladstone Branch, which diverges off the Morristown Line at Summit to serve Gladstone in Somerset County, serving southern Morris County on the way.
NJT Rail Newark Division
- The Raritan Valley Line follows old Central Railroad of New Jersey track down the valley of the Raritan River in Essex, Union, Middlesex, Somerset and Hunterdon Counties. Stereotypically, Raritan Valley Line commuters are comfortable, wealthy professionals, although this isn't always exactly true. There are two proposals to extend it; under one proposal, the line would extend west from its current terminus at High Bridge and cross into Warren County to terminate either in Phillipsburgnote , or across the river in Pennsylvania (with Easton being the likely choice, although nearby Allentown is possible). Under the other proposal, a branch of the line would turn southwest at Bound Brook and cross Somerset and Mercer Counties to meet SEPTA's West Trenton Line at West Trenton in Ewing Township, providing a second route between New York and Philadelphia, albeit one significantly less direct than the Northeast Corridor Line/Trenton Line path.
- The North Jersey Coast Line follows the Atlantic coast of New Jersey south and east from Newark and Elizabeth to the nicer places along the northern part of the Jersey Shore, terminating in Bay Head, just south of Point Pleasant. This route, even more than the Raritan Valley, is associated with rich folks—they even have an old-fashioned fee-for-membership "commuter's club" with a cool train car with special privileges for members.
- The Northeast Corridor Line follows the former Pennsylvania Railroad tracks between Philadelphia and New York, which today is part of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. More or less a straight line between the two, it cuts straight through Central Jersey, running from New York to Trenton. At Trenton, it meets SEPTA's Trenton Line, with which it is coordinated to allow a relatively smooth trip between the East Coast's two largest cities. The route is at least quadruple-tracked for most of its run, with the outer tracks used by NJ Transit trains and the inner tracks being used by Amtrak's Acela high-speed and Northeast Regional trains. The section from Trenton to New Brunswick is almost perfectly straight and very level and so is the fastest section of the Northeast Corridor (Acela, Northeast Regional, and NJT trains all hit their top speeds here, and even the slower NJT trains hit speeds well in excess of 100 mph in the long stretch between Princeton Junction and New Brunswick). It is also the only line in NJT's network (besides the Princeton Dinky and Atlantic City Line) to not serve Hoboken Terminal in some capacity.
- The Princeton Branch, also known as the Princeton Dinky, is a very short line operated by a single pair of cars running between Princeton Junction on the Northeast Corridor Line and Princeton Station in the town of Princeton itself. Naturally used by Princeton students and profs; also used by ordinary middle-class folks from Central Jersey visiting Princeton to splurge on the fancy restaurants, bars, and shopping and Rutgers students coming to gawp and toss insults at the Princeton preps.
- The Atlantic City Line runs between Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and Atlantic City on former Pennsylvania Railroad track. It is the only full commuter rail service in South Jersey; it finds its heaviest regular use among casino workers traveling from the last few stops along the line, albeit with gamblers coming from pretty much everywhere as a close second (the line descends from a former Amtrak service informally called the "Gambler's Express"). Mostly single-tracked today, there's talk of increasing the amount of double-tracking. The line was closed from September 2018 through May 2019 to install Positive Train Control technology and finish some other much-needed repairs. It has important connections to the PATCO at Lindenwold and to the River Line at Pennsauken.
NJ Transit Light RailNJ Transit also operates three light rail lines. Light rail, of course, is what might elsewhere be called a tram or a trolley, except not really; these vehicles go on journeys of over 20 miles on dedicated track. What really differentiates them is their smaller size that allows them to engage in street running.
- Newark Light Rail: Also called the Newark City Subway, it is not a true "subway" but rather a two-line light rail system with some underground elements. There's talk of extending it down Broad Street to serve southern parts of Newark, and then further parallel to the Northeast Corridor tracks to serve Elizabeth, but nothing has come of this. A formerly independent system, operations were taken over by NJT in 1980. There's been a lot of talk about expansion, but nothing's come of it. As it's an extension of Newark's old streetcar network, which in its heyday was run by Transport of New Jersey, Newark Light rail is run by NJT Bus Operations.
- Hudson-Bergen Light Rail: An extremely misleading name: it only operates in Hudson County (the only Bergen it goes to is North Bergen, which is in Hudson County immediately south of the Bergen County line. Don't ask.). A light rail system running mostly on old railroad track, plus some new track in downtown Jersey City and elsewhere, this is the transportation backbone of Hudson County. Expansion plans are constantly under discussion but never in the clear. Unlike most other NJ Transit operations, this is run under contract by URS.
- The River Line: Unlike the previous two, this is a diesel-powered operation, and its primary role is connecting Trenton and Camden (which is across the Delaware from Philadelphia), it does street running in Camden while just having dedicated track in Trenton. Primarily serves Burlington County (which happens to be between Trenton and Camden), it more or less follows the course of the Delaware. NJ Transit has plans to extend some kind of service from Camden to Glassboro to the southeast (serving South Camden, Gloucester City, and Gloucester Countynote ), but keeps going back and forth on whether it should take the form of bus rapid transit or an additional diesel-powered light rail line similar to the River Line (effectively a second line of a "South Jersey Light Rail"). Philly-area transit nerds are generally annoyed that (1) the line doesn't run across the river to terminate in Philadelphia and (2) that the line exists basically because the rich suburbs in Burlington County (particularly Moorestown) didn't want a "dirty train" (read: transit service useful to people who weren't rich and White) running through the region (the original plan had been to run a second line of PATCO down old interurban track to Mount Holly, but some conservative state senators shot it down; the River Line was offered as a second-best service running through some depressed areas by the Delaware). The River Line is run under a hybrid agreement between Bombardier Transportation and NJT Bus Operations.
NJT in media
- The Monk novel Mr. Monk on Patrol takes Monk out of San Francisco to be a temporary cop in Summit, NJ (which had fictively—but based on then-recent events, i.e. Chris Christie's extensive corruption busts all over the state, including suburbia—just been hit with a corruption scandal, leaving Randy Disher as Mayor and the police department desperately understaffed). They get a lot right about NJT, except that they misidentify the service to Summit as the Summit Line rather than the Morristown Line.
- The Sopranos: The opening credits feature a brief shot of an NJT train at about the 1-minute mark. Also, the buses Meadow takes to go between New York (where she's at Columbia) and New Jersey are presumably NJT, although we never see them. NJT buses and trains appear frequently in the background, as the series was actually shot in New Jersey. In particular, NJT trains can be seen passing by the cemetery the mobsters and their families are buried in (see, for instance, Jackie Aprile, Jr.'s funeral).
- The Station Agent: This film about a little person (Peter Dinklage) who inherits an old station building along the now-freight-only New York Susquehenna & Western Railway, begins in Hoboken, where extensive footage of the Terminal and its yards are used.
- Jim Jarmusch's 2016 film Paterson features Adam Driver as a veteran and an aspiring poet who drives an NJT bus in Paterson. Driver's casting became Hilarious in Hindsight for some NJT bus commuters that were fed up with the delays and confusing nature of the system itself, claiming "only NJT could spawn someone as evil as Kylo Ren".
- House takes place in Central Jersey, specifically Plainsboro, so NJT appears occasionally, particularly NJT buses. A bus crash on an NJT bus is the catalyst for the two-part Season 4 finale "House's Head"/"Wilson's Heart".