Another summer vacation at the shore and another bike hassle on NJ TRANSIT, what else is new?
It sounds easy, bikes are allowed in the luggage undercarriage of the cruiser buses to Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Wildwood and Cape May. The problem is that you are competing with other vacationers who travel with steamer trunks.
1 - On Tuesday at 5:45 the 315 to Wildwood shows up on time at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden, open the compartment and there is already one bike and a compartment full of bags, no room for bikes. An $8.15 non refundable ticket wasted.
2 - I quickly jump on PATCO for plan B - Take the AC Rail Line at Lindenwold and connect to the 552 bus from Atlantic City to Wildwood. Great, AC Train on time and there is plenty of room for the bike. At the Atlantic City rail station the bus stop to Wildwood is clearly marked, connection scheduled for 7:40 but no bus, at 7:50 I glance at the corner of my eye the to watch the bus on the Atlantic City Expressway. The bus bypassed the train station! A complaint is sent via my cell phone to NJ TRANSIT. They respond back the next day, vowing to investigate.
3 - Finally the next bus at 8:40 bus arrives at the train station, since I am the only passenger there is no problem getting the bike in, the next stop three blocks away at the Atlantic City bus terminal there are 25 passengers with a ton of luggage. Had I tried picked up the bus there I would have once again been stranded. The bus is slowed by a driver that has to lock and unlock the luggage compartment to take out luggage. I arrive in North Wildwood at 10:15 5 hours after leaving home.
The solution is simple, put bike racks on the cruiser buses. It would give bicyclists peace of mind give more room in the luggage bay for steamer trunks and would offer extra bike capacity on runs that don't have luggage. Not having the driver come out to open the compartment would reduce delays caused by bikes.