Via Secaucus question

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Via Secaucus question

Postby lstone19 » Wed May 17, 2017 6:19 pm

Some time to kill at EWR gave me an opportunity to visit Berkeley Heights (where I lived in the 70s) and ride the M&E for the first time in almost 40 years. I used the iPhone app to buy the tickets which led me to some questions and observations.

Bought via Secaucus since changing there and the Newark-Broad were the best options. Same for the return unless I returned late afternoon when the Trip Planner suggested Hoboken and Secaucus. Setting the Trip Planner to All rather than just Rail added connection options in Newark using buses and Light Rail.

I noticed the ticket the app generated codes for what I assume were the permissible change locations. SEC - Secaucus was obvious; I was surprised to see NYP but in searching old threads, I see you can go all the way to NYP if you want; SMM is I assume is Summit; BNW = Newark - Broad?; and then it also has NLR. I cant figure that one out unless it means Newark Light Rail. If so, is the ride included? Trip Planner options via the Light Rail show an added fare for it (and also show the via Secaucus fare which I'm pretty sure is wrong).

OTOH, as I mentioned, some of the Trip Planner option were via Hoboken but HOB was not on the ticket as a valid change point (the app does offer via Secaucus and via Hoboken for tickets - I guess one would just have to know you need via Secaucus when doing both). I wonder what a conductor on a Suffern train would say when shown a Berkeley Heights to EWR ticket?

One other oddity: I was ahead of schedule and due to the ongoing tunnel issues, decided that just moving was the best option. So was at Secaucus about 30 minutes ahead of the planned arrival, saw that there was a Dover train in about 20 minutes, and decided to take that to Summit and wait for the Gladstone train there. Except that I decided to use the restroom which is on the other side of the fare gates. No problem getting to the restroom but then it wouldn't let me back to the upper level platforms. A cop standing by the gate let me through while saying "it's not unlimited" (apparently, I should have said something on my way out that I'd need to be let back in). And while that should be true, their system should also be smart enough to recognize that an out-and-back to the side the restrooms are on is legitimate.

I wonder if it's because Secaucus was built with the primary purpose of ML/BC/PV to NYP connections in mind with the cross the Tracks A-B platform connections (Corridor et al. to M&E and M-B lines) being secondary and not really thought about in the operation of the fare gates.

Anyway, it was fun trip. When I last was on the Gladstone Branch, it was still the green 1930s MU cars.
Larry
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Re: Via Secaucus question

Postby mohawkrailfan » Thu May 18, 2017 1:24 pm

Those transfer options are confusing. If you're buying from Hoboken to Dover, the machine makes you choose between Newark and Newark/Secaucus. And they don't explain that choosing Newark/Secaucus is more expensive, or why.
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Re: Via Secaucus question

Postby lstone19 » Thu May 18, 2017 3:18 pm

I did eventually find where the M&E schedule says a via Secaucus ticket is also good via Newark Light Rail (so the Trip Planner is wrong when it includes an extra fare for it on top of the via Secaucus fare). But in other Trip Planner oddities, I found that when it wanted you to take a bus rather than Light Rail between Newark Penn and Newark Broad, it priced it using separate EWR-Nwk Penn and Nwk Broad-Berkeley Hts tickets (which is less than the via Hoboken fare). Which, of course, you could also do with the connection being via Light Rail. So, for this case, the Trip Planner can lead you to pay more than you needed to (not that I wanted to do that - part of the purpose of the trip was to finally ride the Midtown Direct connection).

The more I think about this, the Secaucus surcharge doesn't make a lot of sense. I get that the fare gates are to prevent people from the diesel lines cheating by buying Hoboken tickets and then going to NYP (and v.v.) and gambling that tickets won't get checked on that part. But for the other connections that can be made at Secaucus (anything not involving trains to/from NYP), it should just be another "regular" connection option. Mohawkrailfan's mention of Hoboken to Dover raises a good point - given HOB-Nwk Broad is every other hour on weekends while HOB-SEC is at least hourly (and more than that many hours), via Secaucus should be the regular option rather than an extra fare option (and for someone who grew up when the EL and the Pennsy were totally separate and unconnected, the concept that the best way from Hoboken to M&E points is via Secaucus is a little mind-blowing (in the 70s, the M&E including Gladstone had Sat/Sun service, Main Line (and BC line?) had Saturday (but not Sunday) service, and the rest had no weekend service and yet now, the M&E has the worst weekend service to Hoboken of the former EL lines).

Correction to what I posted: my wife reminded me that during a 1990ish visit to my parents, we took the train from Berkeley Heights to Hoboken (no Midtown Direct yet). So it's only been about 27 years rather than the 40 I thought.
Larry
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ex-N&W Sandusky, Ohio
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Re: Via Secaucus question

Postby Sirsonic » Thu May 18, 2017 3:31 pm

lstone19 wrote:One other oddity: I was ahead of schedule and due to the ongoing tunnel issues, decided that just moving was the best option. So was at Secaucus about 30 minutes ahead of the planned arrival, saw that there was a Dover train in about 20 minutes, and decided to take that to Summit and wait for the Gladstone train there. Except that I decided to use the restroom which is on the other side of the fare gates. No problem getting to the restroom but then it wouldn't let me back to the upper level platforms. A cop standing by the gate let me through while saying "it's not unlimited" (apparently, I should have said something on my way out that I'd need to be let back in). And while that should be true, their system should also be smart enough to recognize that an out-and-back to the side the restrooms are on is legitimate.


There are restrooms on both sides of the fare gates.
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Re: Via Secaucus question

Postby lstone19 » Thu May 18, 2017 3:59 pm

Sirsonic wrote:
lstone19 wrote:One other oddity: I was ahead of schedule and due to the ongoing tunnel issues, decided that just moving was the best option. So was at Secaucus about 30 minutes ahead of the planned arrival, saw that there was a Dover train in about 20 minutes, and decided to take that to Summit and wait for the Gladstone train there. Except that I decided to use the restroom which is on the other side of the fare gates. No problem getting to the restroom but then it wouldn't let me back to the upper level platforms. A cop standing by the gate let me through while saying "it's not unlimited" (apparently, I should have said something on my way out that I'd need to be let back in). And while that should be true, their system should also be smart enough to recognize that an out-and-back to the side the restrooms are on is legitimate.


There are restrooms on both sides of the fare gates.


Really? Signs lead you to the fare gates and I looked around before going through the fare gates and didn't see anything. If they're there, they are very well hidden.
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Re: Via Secaucus question

Postby JeffersonLeeEng » Fri May 19, 2017 9:17 am

The restrooms are actually accessible via the elevators and escalators on extreme western end of the platform. You'll notice there are gates on this side of the concourse as well, but these put you on the other side of that area--closer to the customer service office and Sbarro, I think...
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