Little Egg Harbor Commuter Parking Lot at Parkway Interchange 58 Open

Bus Service to New York City, Atlantic City Starts Aug. 31
By Pat Johnson | Jul 24, 2019
Photo by: Pat Johnson Craig Versheck gives a thumbs-up at the bus-loading section of the new commuter park and ride on Route 539 by the Garden State Parkway. Versheck has advocated for the lot and for a New Jersey Transit bus line to stop there on the way to AC and NYC.

Little Egg Harbor, NJ — Area residents may soon be able to board a New Jersey Transit Bus from Little Egg Harbor and go south to Atlantic City and as far north as New York City. The park and ride lot developed on Route 539 in Little Egg Harbor Township just southeast of Garden State Parkway Interchange 58 has opened after Ocean County engineers inspected it a week or so ago.

Retired New York Transit bus driver Craig Versheck of Little Egg Harbor has spent the last 10 years, with his wife Debra, advocating for the park and ride lot and for a NJ Transit bus stop in his hometown. Versheck even joined the Ocean County Transportation Advisory Board to keep pushing for the idea.

On Monday, advisory board Vice Chairman Versheck said the whole process fell into place within the last three weeks. “New Jersey Transit has put us on the fall schedule for bus 319 starting Aug. 31. That’s the bus that leaves Atlantic City, stops here and continues up to New York,” said Versheck. “I urge the public to take advantage of it.”

Versheck said he has already received over 400 replies on a website.

“It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “I’ve met so many people at New Jersey Transit and little by little we kept punching and got it through.” Versheck also praised the Ocean County freeholders, who helped by providing $400,000 in 2015 for engineering and continued to support the program.

Freeholder Jack Kelly said the NJ Transit bus stop was all part of the plan right from the beginning. “We worked with the 9th Legislative District and the Parkway Authority (now the New Jersey Turnpike Authority) to set it up and make this park and ride a success. Now people can get to work and not have to take their cars,” said Kelly.

The parking lot was finished and quietly opened two weeks ago. “The engineers made sure the lights worked and the drainage worked – and all the lines are painted,” said Kelly. The park and ride was designed so the bus could pull into the park and pull right out with plenty of room to spare, he said. “We’ve cooperated with the Parkway Authority and now it’s up and running and we’re happy with it,” said Kelly.

The lot has parking for 47 cars and two handicapped spots.

Versheck said bus line 319 runs about every hour and will be a boon to those who have to go to Toms River or Atlantic City for work or school. “I hope they take advantage of it – use it or lose it,” he said. “People won’t have to take the long ride on the 559 bus (the local that runs on Route 9) but can take the 139 from the park and ride and transfer in Toms River to local buses for work or school. The bus to Atlantic City means they can take a train to Philly or take local transportation to jobs.”

Bill Braden, chairman of the advisory board, said the commuter park and ride has been “long needed for the southern half of the county that keeps growing.”

The county jump started the commuter lot by floating the money but expects to get reimbursed through the NJTA, he said. The project should have opened the first week in July, but a few construction problems arose with the drainage basins. “There was 4 feet of clay that had to be removed and then we had to do the environmental study for snakes and plants; it’s in the Pinelands Reserve so there are a lot of hoops to jump through.”

— Pat Johnson

patjohnson@thesandpaper.net

 

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