Help with monthly pass planning

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Help with monthly pass planning

Postby jamesinclair » Mon Oct 09, 2017 5:48 pm

I am trying to help a friend who is moving to NJ and is trying to plan their commute. Unfortunately, the NJ Transit website and fare system is focused on commuting trips only, so it is not clear on pricing for trips outside of the commute trip. Essentially, we are trying to save money, but it is a bit of a puzzle. I figured the folks here might be better off answering this question than the customer service people at NJ Transit.

Let me try to explain, but warning, it is a puzzle!

Primary commute would be from Ivy Hill neighborhood in Newark (Nearish to South Orange) into NYC. NJ Transit trip planner provided two options:

1. Bus No 1 to Newark Penn ($2.55) and then train to NYP ($5.25)
2. Bus No 107 to Port Authority ($7.00)

Now, monthly passes arent mentioned in the trip planner, and require extra research (why?). So first I dive into the NEC timesheet and pull out that the monthly pass for trip 1 would be $152, which supposedly covers both the local bus and the train.

I then dive into some PDF of bus fares which says the $7 bus fare is the equivalent of a $199 monthly pass.

Ok, here is where the puzzle begins.

The NJTransit website says this:

"Monthly Passes: If you have a monthly rail pass valued at $59 or more, you can use it on any NJ TRANSIT light rail line or buses up to the number of zones indicated on the pass. Simply show your valid rail pass to the bus operator or light rail fare inspector."

Great, so thats where I pull out that the $152 monthly from Newark to NYP covers the local ($2.55) bus.

But what about the reverse? If she purchases a monthly bus pass for option 2, and that monthly bus pass costs $199, does that cover the rail trip which costs less? This is important for travel flexibility. The bus trip to PANY and the bus+train trip to Penn take a similar amount of time, but the frequency varies, especially off peak. She will be traveling to the city both at traditional commute hours (8am) and an nontraditional times (10pm), meaning the flexibility is important.

And then the next cog:

This person will also be relying on NJTransit for all other trips (no car).

So say she wants to visit New Brunswick on the weekend.

If she takes option 1, and purchases the $152 monthly pass, and presents her Newark-NYC pass on the Newark-New Brunswick train, how much will she have to pay in cash to the conductor?

And if she purchases option 2 ($199 monthly bus pass), same question, will her pass be honored in reducing the out of pocket cost of the Newark to New Brunswick trip?

Thank you!
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby EuroStar » Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:07 am

jamesinclair wrote:If she takes option 1, and purchases the $152 monthly pass, and presents her Newark-NYC pass on the Newark-New Brunswick train, how much will she have to pay in cash to the conductor?

My recommendation would be to buy the extra fare in advance at the station, not from the conductor. If I had to guess, the additional fare needed from Newark Broad to New Brunswick is the equivalent of Rahway-New Brunswick or $4.25 each way. You should check with someone who is involved in ticket issuance/collection though. This is just a guess -- I do not deal with tickets, so my guess is as good as yours.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby time » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:47 pm

Buy an extension on the train. A) they may never get around to collecting it. B) some ticket collectors couldn't be bothered to figure out the fare and will give you a free ride. As long as you were willing and able to pay, it's not fare jumping.

I made a 10-trip ticket purchase last for 17 trips. The ticket collection issue is a big one.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby ajt » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:49 pm

Generally speaking, a Bus pass has no value on Rail.

A Newark-NY Rail pass is valid on Rail between Newark and New York, and stations in between, i.e. Newark-Secaucus or Secaucus-NY. It has no value Newark-New Brunswick.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby jamesinclair » Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:25 am

EuroStar wrote:
jamesinclair wrote:If she takes option 1, and purchases the $152 monthly pass, and presents her Newark-NYC pass on the Newark-New Brunswick train, how much will she have to pay in cash to the conductor?

My recommendation would be to buy the extra fare in advance at the station, not from the conductor. If I had to guess, the additional fare needed from Newark Broad to New Brunswick is the equivalent of Rahway-New Brunswick or $4.25 each way. You should check with someone who is involved in ticket issuance/collection though. This is just a guess -- I do not deal with tickets, so my guess is as good as yours.


Hm, that looks right.

Newark - NYC = $5.25
Newark - Rahway = $5.00

So the monthly pass would cover the trip to Rahway, and buying a ticket from Rahway to New Brunswick would be $4.25 and cover the additional trip length.

Every ticket machine allows you to input a custom origin and destination station right? That does sound like a safer bet than rolling the dice with each conductor.

Any idea on how the more expensive bus pass would fit into all this?

I really wish this stuff was spelt out on the website.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby ajt » Wed Oct 11, 2017 2:39 pm

Again, the NY-Newark Rail Pass is not valid beyond Newark. To travel Newark-New Brunswick your friend will have to buy a Newark-New Brunswick ticket.

A Bus pass doesn't fit in anywhere, they are not accepted on Rail for the trips you are contemplating.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby jamesinclair » Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:50 pm

ajt wrote:Again, the NY-Newark Rail Pass is not valid beyond Newark. To travel Newark-New Brunswick your friend will have to buy a Newark-New Brunswick ticket.


Everything I have seen says otherwise, and that interpretation doesnt mesh with transit system fare standards.

The only place I see your interpretation is for a student pass, which explicitly calls it out:

Terms of Use
The student monthly pass is for the personal use of the student who purchased it and is restricted for use traveling to/from stations indicated on the pass for the sole purpose of attending school. Student passes are not honored to or from any other rail station except those printed on the pass, but they may be used on certain buses and light rail vehicles as permitted under NJ TRANSIT cross-honoring policies


Why would this restriction be called out for the student pass if it was true for all passes?

As for bus, I am leaning towards your interpretation being correct, although policy wise it makes absolutely no sense why a more expensive pass would provide less service.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby ajt » Wed Oct 11, 2017 6:51 pm

And we wonder why the insiders don't post here anymore...

Do your friend a big favor and contact NJT and see what the official answer is. And post it here as well.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby ryanov » Mon Oct 16, 2017 1:23 pm

Monthly passes, to speak rather generally, work between the two fare zones that are on the pass. So, NYP to Newark Penn is good for the "band" between NYP and Newark Penn, so that includes Secaucus. Maybe the Meadowlands, but I don't think so (I think the fare is slightly higher). If you did something like Newark to Rutherford, which I did at one time, you can get slightly farther on all routes from NY, and you'd get a slightly higher number of bus zones. To illustrate that example better, I was living in Newark when I bought that Rutherford pass, but I occasionally went to Rutherford and I wanted an extra bus fare zone, so I bought a Rutherford pass and almost always used it Newark to NY. There are no stations on the NEC that is in the same fare zone as Rutherford, so you can't get anywhere past Newark on that pass.

I'm not totally sure what happens if you have a Rahway to New Brunswick pass, for example. I think you can ride between whatever zone Rahway is on the NEC to zone 14, which I know is New Brunswick's, on any line, but not anyplace else.

There are some areas, as least in Essex County, where this rail fare to bus zones thing breaks down. One is the 108 bus from Newark Penn to Port Authority. It costs more than the train ($6 vs. $5.25), and the rail pass is only worth 3 zones. Another is that Newark Penn and Newark Broad are different fare zones (Newark has a zone, allegedly, not shared with any other station). Occasionally you'll come across a crew member that knows this and be asked for money.
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Re: Help with monthly pass planning

Postby jamesinclair » Fri Oct 27, 2017 3:06 pm

ajt wrote:Do your friend a big favor and contact NJT and see what the official answer is. And post it here as well.


I called. Person I spoke to was friendly. Very quick to quote the individual monthly pass prices.

The rest of the question was more difficult.

After being on hold for 10 minutes, I was told the best option was to buy the Newark-NYC train pass, and if I wanted to ride the 107, I would present the monthly train pass and then pay a $1.35 cash differential.

Regarding the NB side of things, it would be a similar up-charge when riding the train between Newark and New Brunswick, although I didnt get an exact number.
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