Back in the fall, the Free Press asked readers to fill out a public transportation survey. Before delving into the results, the author would like to share an anecdote.
While running a variety show in Lambertville, I dealt with many participating comedians who lived in Philadelphia. Of those, a handful were younger and didn’t own cars.
One memorable experience involved one of our opening performers, who asked for public transportation options to downtown Lambertville. I shared with him the SEPTA timetable from Center City to Doylestown, then recommended he time it correctly to get the final Trans Bridge bus heading east to Lambertville. It worked out, he ended up in Lambertville early, and had plenty of time to get comfortable with the surroundings.
To get back, however, I offered him my couch, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to get back until morning. Luckily, he had friends in between Lambertville and Philadelphia, who came to see the show, then dropped him off at the Trenton Transit Center.
So with this on my mind, I asked for similar stories of public transportation challenges. You responded.
One reader wrote:
I actually rent an apartment where I work and have people house sit for me just so I can be at work and not be extremely tired and put into an arduous commute every single day.
A New Jersey state worker shared the need for connections to Trenton:
Well, I have to drive to work every day, along with 40,000 state employees, all of whom use Route 29, and my employer has to pay for me to be able to park my car. Someone else from the same town where I live works with me and also drives to the office, and I’m sure there are plenty of state workers who make the trip in their cars alone as well. Years ago when I worked for what is now Trans-Bridge (was West Hunterdon Transit), we would get several calls a week asking if we had bus service from either Flemington or Lambertville (or both) to Trenton or Philly. There is definitely demand.
However another reader cautioned on more public transit options here:
(I) want to add one thing — beware of putting in public transportation connecting Lambertville/New Hope area to easy access to New York or Philly. It will take the area from a quiet place to a commuter spot and that will change everything. Be careful what you wish for or you might get it.
A similar response was more emphatic:
“Lack” of public transportation around here is a positive. People live here because they DON’T want city life. The feel of New Hope, Lambertville, and Solebury is wonderful precisely BECAUSE they don’t feel like Langhorne, Levittown, etc. If you want to live in another generic commuter town full of ugly SEPTA buses robbing even more of the charm from the area, there’s hundreds of those towns for you nearby. Not sure why anyone would want to do it to such a special place. May as well build a Walmart and an Applebee’s downtown while we’re at it.
One regret of the survey was leaving out a question that would have asked respondents to select their age range, to better measure if opinions were split demographically. That blip noted, more question breakdowns continue below.
Question 1 asked, “Where do you commute for work?” Many respondents work locally, followed by those who work from home or commute to Central Jersey. Three participating readers work in New York City or Philadelphia.
Question 2 queried if there was any desire for a bus/shuttle transporting locals to any of the area SEPTA/NJ Transit rail stations. Looking at the graph, it was evenly divided.
Some highlights from those who answered “Depends” to Question 2 were:
If the bus went to the Trenton train station, I might use it to get to the train to NYC also depends the bus schedule. Same for Doylestown train station. Public transportation to either beats trying to park your car.
Depends on schedule. Unfortunately, ridership numbers would probably mean too few departures on either end of the commute to make it convenient. If this could work and actually be convenient, I’d love it.
The final Google Forms generated graphic measured if there was a desire to connect to SEPTA regional rail for leisure. The top responses were close, but divided once again. Sixteen people would use a bus connecting to SETPA rail “a couple times a year,” while 15 people would “never” use it. 14 people would access this hypothetical bus “a couples times a month.”
But what about tourism? Would any increase in public transportation options have any effect on local businesses?
I feel that most tourism traffic to Lambertville/New Hope is driven by more affluent individuals with cars. I haven’t seen market research, but this seems to be largely driven by those residing closer to NYC from empirical observation. As a resident, I don’t find it difficult to get into Philadelphia. I either drive to Yardley to take the train, or drive all the way into the city.
Many others expressed similar sentiments on this question, along with a few more people who worried about increases in crime. One person noted, “An influx of teens could also occur.”
Another respondent thought public transit would help tourism:
Yes, I think it would help increase tourism as a lot of people who live in the city don’t have cars. Also I think more people want to take public transportation rather then (sic) deal with the stress of driving & parking. The easier it is for people to get to here & the more options they have to do so, the more people will come.
Some similar answers revolved around the need to avoid drinking and driving, “so people who live in the region can enjoy our bars and restaurants without needing to drive home,” according to a respondent.
Few participating readers lived here when the old 608 NJ Transit bus used to connect Lambertville to the Trenton area. One who did wrote, “The arrival/departure times were not convenient, and there was only one each way per day.”
The Free Press was contacted last year by one local transportation group asking for the full results of this survey, which we are posting here, for all to see. Based on interest, we will do a follow up with regional transportation groups in another article.
Overall, the biggest takeaway from the survey seems to be the lack of unanimity. We’re not only divided by a state border, but perhaps philosophies on life as well.
Derek – I tOo CAN post LIKE this yet it DOESN’T make A pOInt STRONGER OR weaKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is the problem – people want the best of both worlds. They want to work in Philly or NYC but live far away in a quiet, peaceful place – and to enable their choices, they want to change the quiet place they’ve chosen to live. There are many, many suburbs with tons of commuter options extremely close to both cities – but instead of living in them, people would rather transform this area into them.
Instead of changing a serene area piece by piece until one day it resembles every other crappy suburb in America, people need to choose to live nearer to their work or work nearer to their homes. Don’t come in and push to keep altering things until Lambertville and New Hope are indistinguishable from the rest of the sprawl. Small steps like this and one day you’ll get your wish.
To Not Worth The Downsides,
Are you also one of the many complaining about the train getting ready to open back up on Bridge Street? The train that was there before and is a part of the towns history? The train that would go to Flemington?
You say people want the best of both worlds and that’s a problem- guess what, New Hope (and lambertville, but more so New Hope) has a huge influx of Manhattanites. People who work in Manhattan. People who have aided in the increases of both rentals and home values in the area that YOU have benefited from. We pay taxes, we support the local community and businesses. Lambertville and New Hope can’t solely rely on tourist dollars.
I think the problem is quite obvious – you don’t people from Trenton having access to Lambertville and New Hope.
“Not in my backyard” right?
To the poster who referenced doylestown and some heroin problem – you do realize that you could walk into any bar in New Hope
Or Lambertville and could probably find a way to get drugs? It already is in your backyard – you just choose to ignore it.
The direct Philly/Doylestown transportation is one of the biggest reasons everyone in the area knows you can buy heroin and fentanyl any day of the week in the 3-4 block area around the Doylestown train station and Starbucks.
When I read stories about things like the poor police officer that got injured on power lines a few weeks ago chasing a heroin dealer over the top of a SEPTA train in Doylestown, all I know is this is not what I want for our area.
The changes around here are quickly turning a quiet, off-the-beaten path area with rich history into another generic suburb.
it is worth the “downsides”
How many times do lambertville residents complain about parking issues due to the influx of tourists during weekends and events? More times than I can count!
What about the residents of lambertville that work in New York or Philadelphia?
With the increasing rents in lambertville more people are opting to work in the city where they can make a higher salary. It may not be what old school lambertville wants, but it sure would bring additional revenue to the town – not to mention it would be beneficial to residents that don’t work in lambertville or central jersey.
YA!That’s EASY for YOU to say who has the ability/privilege to drive!! And if you would ACTUALLY read your response, you will notice you are making talking about DOYLESTOWN, NOT Lambertville!! Just a bus that went to the Trenton Transit center would make some people’s life and commute MUCH EASIER. I DON’T see you complaining about the Transbridge bus that goes through Lambertville (BY THE WAY that stops in Doylestown!!, that would still give people in Doylestown the ability to come to Lambertville for their heroin and fentanyl)!!! THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!!!! THANKS!!!!
wish we had public transportation to the Trenton Train Station. I love living in Lambertville, however the Manhattan commute is becoming to draining. If Transbridge ran a more frequent schedule –
It would be heaven! A shuttle going to And from Trenton would be wonderful for all local residents in Doylestown, New Hope, Lambertville and Frenchtown. Not everyone works from home or in Central New Jersey. More and more people are mega commuters as the years pass.
Get with the times and get a shuttle going.
WOW!! LOOK!! Someone who the public transportation could have a positive effect on. GREAT POST MICHELLE!! HEY Not Worth the Downside!! STOP being SO ignorant and self center and START thinking about other people that JUST YOURSELF!!!
Are these the same so called liberal progressives for climate change! Just as long as I have my Range Rover (sarcasm intended).
Let’s not dig up dead things here (sarcasm intended). I am not sure how or why you have used this issue and forum to expose yourself as a a right wing nut job. Climate change is a grave issue (sarcasm intended).
GREAT POINT John!! If the ONE bus could stop over 100 cars A DAY from ADDING TO the ALREADY too much pollution to our environment would make at least SOME change in lessoning of pollution caused by cars. I’m sure that the buses could be energy-efficient!! You HEAR THAT Not worth the downsides!!!!!!