America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: New Haven vs. Englewood

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Nowhere in America is immune to the problem of shoddy, dangerous bus stops. You think the northeast, with its older urban development patterns, is full of safe, comfortable places to wait for the bus? Think again.

Two terrible bus stops in New Jersey and Connecticut face off today for the chance to be named the sorriest bus stop in America.

The winner will join Pittsburgh, Chapel Hill, San Diego, Munhall, Pennsylvania, and the winner of yesterday’s Tampa vs. Prince George’s County match (the poll is still open) in the second round of competition.

Vote for the worst below. (A note to readers: Streetsblog USA will be offline until after Labor Day. The parade of sorry bus stops will pick up again on Tuesday.)

New HavenNew_Haven_bus_stop

This stop is served CTTransit’s F route between New Haven and Derby, on Route 34. The post with a little blue sign is the only indication that this is a bus stop. Reader Sandy Johnston nominated this one. He writes:

I had trouble picking which stop to submit on this stretch; they’re all pretty awful. But this one, which appears to primarily serve a dam and has nothing protecting riders from high-speed traffic, seems particularly bad. Icing on the cake is the sign that doesn’t even tell you which route stops there.

Agencies responsible: Connecticut DOT, CTTransit.

Englewood
englewood_bus_stop

Can you spot the bus stop on this New Jersey state highway?

Reader Michael Klatsky tells us that in order to use this stop, which serves an area of mixed retail, manufacturing, and housing, you either have to climb over a guard rail or walk unprotected next to highway traffic. He took the time to give it a one-star review on Google Maps.

Agencies responsible: New Jersey DOT, NJ Transit.

Which bus stop is the sorriest?

  • Englewood, NJ (66%, 159 Votes)
  • New Haven (34%, 83 Votes)

Total Voters: 242

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  • Alec

    On the bright side, in the distant future that Englewood, NJ bus stop will be serviced by the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extension… not that it goes to the same place…

  • Tough choice, but I’m going with Englewood — nowhere to stand, except on the highway, and a wider road to cross.

  • Elizabeth F

    I’ve lived in both areas and am particularly familiar with that Englewood stop. I voted for Englewood because it is so heavily used.

    The New Haven stop is in a small city with plenty of affordable housing, were people typically don’t have to travel far: growing up, I was used to getting anywhere I needed to in 10-20 minutes by bike or car (either one, take your pick). Buses are a VERY minor part of the transportation system there, typically only run once an hour, and shut down at 7pm. And they mostly run almost empty. That particular bus stop serves just a few dozen houses on Morris Ave (the side street across from the dam) where it is likely that everybody has a car. Most of the people on that bus are probably originating and ending in New Haven or Derby, both which contain high-density, walkable areas. I would be surprised if even one person uses the pictured bus stop per day, and would also be surprised if anything else gets build in the immediate vicinity for the rest of my lifetime.

    The Englewood bus stop, however…. it sits on the most useful and heavily used bus route in all of Bergen County: the (private) route running from Paterson to the GW Bridge Terminal (connecting with the NYC A train), with buses running every 5 minutes or less at all hours, including after midnight. This route is fast and cheap, actually faster than solo driving across the GWB. It’s fast because it stays on Route 4, rather than trying to provide “door-to-door” service in the neighborhoods like NJ transit does. But that doesn’t matter: people will drive/bike/walk a long way to catch this bus route (I would sometimes walk a mile to it). It’s high-frequency because it’s so popular, and the vehicles used are small. But because this route is private, it doesn’t show up on any transit maps, nor does it get the respect it deserves for the important service it provides Bergen County.

    The mixed-use area by this stop was built around 2013: before that, there was essentially nothing there. There are plenty of problems with that development beyond the shoddy bus stop: most glaringly, there is no way to get anywhere from it other than Route 4, making it accessible only by automobile, even though there are plenty of decent bike routes in the immediate vicinity. This is a problem with some but not all developments (mostly commercial) along Route 4: lack of basic planning seems to be endemic to the region. Not to mention, this is low-lying flood-prone land. I’d be willing to rent there, but would not want to own anything in that development.

    The problems with this bus stop are not unique: there are plenty more like it on Route 4, and they are all heavily used. Some, you have to cross a freeway exit to get to. Many, you have to huddle by the side of the road as vehicles whiz by at 50mph. A few have bus shelters (in terrible condition), most have a place for the bus to pull over, most are just a patch of dirt with a sign. There has been essentially no planning, and this bus route became important anyway because it addresses a real need. It should be case study for transportation planners.

    But it’s also important to understand that bus riders aren’t the only ones getting the short shrift on NJ Route 4 (and other NJ state highways): basically everyone is. The roads are in terrible physical condition, they look ghastly, and things are only maintained when the situation becomes dire. These roads are a relic from the 1950’s, and the constant ugly grates on your soul over time. All so NJ could avoid paying gas tax like everybody else. Well, you get what you pay for… But given the hyper-localized and fragmented nature of NJ politics, and the hand-to-mouth attitudes that prevail, I don’t expect to see any kind of better infrastructure in my lifetime (think, cancellation of the ARC tunnel). Even if they get serious about infrastructure repair starting now, it will still take decades to upgrade everything in Bergen County to modern standards.

  • Elizabeth F

    > that Englewood, NJ bus stop will be serviced by the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extension…

    Don’t count on it… there might be a stop there, but it turns out to be pedestrian-inaccessible from that particular development (which opens ONLY onto Route 4).

    > not that it goes to the same place…

    That’s the point. The HBLR extension will be a slow and expensive way to get downtown, requiring 3 transit vehicles to get most places in Manhatan. Most people will probably still use the Jitney Bus on Route 4, plus the A train.

  • Michael Lewyn

    The New Haven photo is much closer (and thus a much better photo) than the Englewood one, so its kind of hard to compare the two. I voted for New Haven because you’d have to scale a fence to get to the New Haven bus stop, while it looks like the Englewood one can be reached merely by walking over the guardrail. But because I can’t really see what’s between the guardrail and the store, its not really a fair comparison.

  • tubulus

    That development also opens onto Van Brunt and Nordhoff (though technically you can’t make the left from van brunt into it….I’m sure people do). Not an exciting area but you can get from there to downtown englewood or onto grand without getting on 4.

  • Elizabeth F

    Nobody scales a fence to get to that bus stop because nobody lives or works at the dam. Click through above to Google Streetview on the New Haven bus stop, and you will see that customers (if there are any) come from the other side of Route 34. Still scary, since they must cross a 4-lane state highway without the benefit of a crosswalk, traffic light, or even safe median. I agree, it’s a sorry bus stop. But maybe not so sorry because I doubt it’s actually used. If I put a “bus stop” sign on the moon, does that make it a sorry bus stop because there’s no oxygen there?

  • Elizabeth F

    Oh I see, you’re right. I (erroneously) thought this bus stop was the one on the OTHER (south) side of Route 4, where my description is accurate.

    More on that south side development… unless something has changed, there is no way for bikes or peds to get through from East Cedar to Englewood, creating a 2-mile detour. The only thing stopping this pass-through is a big chainlink fence. More poor planning; remember, this is a park where county politicians thought they were “improving a swamp” (wetland) by turning into a dump that would later be turned into a park; that was the actual plan in the 1950’s:

  • Elizabeth F

    You can’t cross the road in Englewood, there’s a Jersey barrier down the middle. And even if you could try crossing, it would be suicidal, this road has a LOT of traffic.

  • Michael Klatsky

    The light rail bus stop is currently not marked. It was left out of the DEIS, but was brought to the attention of NJT. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/70b92d123c13fe30c37120eb7c5bf22808ef71cfec192bc422bb201d15b924de.png

    It appears that they projected little to no ridership on RT4, because they were using data collected from the NJT 171 fare stats for the plans.

  • Michael Klatsky
  • Elizabeth F

    > It appears that they projected little to no ridership on RT4, because
    they were using data collected from the NJT 171 fare stats for the
    plans.

    Why am I not surprised. This is after another study that considered running NJT buses along RT4; but decided that private buses were already doing a fine job of that, so why should they intervene? Is there a contest for America’s Sorriest State?

  • Michael Klatsky

    In large, complex agencies there are often different units that don’t always have close contact. I think that the case here was that the study you mention was completed by a different business unit. This one is being done by the capital expansion EIS group. The bus study was network and operations planning, totally separate divisions. It is our duty as knowledgeable citizens to assist the NJT staff when this comes up.

  • Either one looks nearly impossible, but 6 lanes + Jersey barrier > 4 lanes + guardrail. Yeow!

  • Elizabeth F

    Route 34 (New Haven) has stop lights. So there’s a chance you could find a break in the traffic. Route 4 (Englewood) is basically a freeway.

  • Elizabeth F

    That is no excuse for such incompetence. Had anyone spent even 5 minutes on-site, they would have noticed the Jitney buses picking up large numbers of passengers.

  • Westvi

    CORRECTION NEEDED: The Connecticut bus stop shown is in West Haven, CT; not New Haven, CT. New Haven has no jurisdiction over this stop. It’s an issue for West Haven, the State of Connecticut, and the water authority. There are several items to target New Haven for but this isn’t one of them

  • Jennifer

    Streetsblog: Staying in line with your recent male dominance report, New Haven is a goldmine for that one. Whenever a woman tries to build a foothold in that town, the boys club of Doug Rae & Alan Plattus smash it to bits.

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