The possible strike on March 13 or 14 by New Jersey Transit train workers will affect Bayonne, but not in the obvious way most would expect.
Though the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail looks like a train and runs like a train, as far as the Federal Transit Administration is concerned, it’s a bus. And that’s a good thing, since the strike won’t shut down service, according to City Planner Sue Mack. Mack is part of the Bayonne team preparing the city’s plans in anticipation of a work stoppage.
“The light rail is considered a bus under the FTA [Federal Transit Administration] regulations,” Mack said. “Our bus lines and light rail system will be up and running.”
To deal with the strike, NJ Transit will put into service additional, longer light rail cars.
NJ Transit rail workers said they might strike because they’ve gone five years without a contract, various news outlets reported. But whether or not they strike on Sunday or Monday, Bayonne residents will still have their light rail to get them to work or other destinations.
Approximately 100,000 New Jersey commuters could be affected by a strike, and they would have to find alternate ways into New York City.
But “there will be some things that will impact Bayonne,” Mack said. “People will come to park in Bayonne. Shore people won’t have options.”
“We’re going to be more impacted by what’s going on in the other towns. We’re not living in Princeton and not able to get into work.” – Sue Mack
Media outlets have reported that only a fraction of the regular NJ Transit riders will be able to get to New York by bus.
Out of towners dependent on NJ Transit trains could drive into Bayonne to park and take the light rail for connections from Jersey City or Hoboken into New York. Or riders of the Northeast Corridor Line from south or central New Jersey or Pennsylvania may drive up to the city over the Bayonne Bridge, causing traffic delays during the duration of the strike.
“We’re going to be more impacted by what’s going on in the other towns,” Mack said. “We’re not living in Princeton and not able to get into work. We’re one of the least impacted towns.”
Work in progress
At press time, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey had not decided if it would keep the Bayonne Bridge—in the midst of a $1.3 billion construction project—open additional hours. It is usually closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. weeknights.
Port Authority spokesman Neil Buccino said that if the strike does occur, motorists should allow additional traveling time.
City spokesman Joseph Ryan said that Bayonne officials had a conference call on Friday with the Port Authority. He also said that Bayonne Police Chief Drew Niekrasz was coordinating plans with other chiefs of police.
The banning of single-person vehicles during rush hour could also be instituted, Mack said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.