Using the Train for our New York City Commute


New Jersey, the Garden State.  There ARE beautiful areas of New Jersey, but you never could have convinced me by the area I most frequently traveled. As a kid we drove north from New Brunswick each one day each weekend to visit my grandparents on a small chicken farm in Bergen County and the other day we went into Manhattan and across to Brooklyn to visit my other grandparents there. The New Jersey that I knew was urban, crowded, old and dirty. 

This will be a 2-part series. First I am going to show you photos I took from the train when we left New York to head back to where our car was parked in the train station in New Brunswick. Prepare yourself….it is not pretty. It is very typical, however, of what urban areas between Washington, DC and Chicago look like. A huge chunk of the population in the United States is very used to this kind of scenery. If you live somewhere nicer, count your blessings.  This area, however, has a lot to offer….just not attractive scenery.

New Brunswick is 35 miles southwest of New York City on a direct line with Philadelphia.  The train we traveled was an express and took about 50 minutes, making stops in 4 stations.

A funny comparison with London’s Underground “Mind the Gap” signs.

~~~~Once the train was moving the conductor asked for our ticket, punched it and then placed it in the seat top so he could tell easily after the next stop who had had been processed.

The trains are electric.

Some of the Amtrak trains are double decker to transport more people.You’ve heard of the Meadowlands, the area where the football stadium is located in Northern New Jersey. There is a station there that permits easy access to games. This is the way the land looks in the area which has several rivers and a lot of wetlands.  A trailer storage facility, seen in the distance, is typical of the one-story industrial development in the area on the high ground.

The area along the tracks is heavily industrial especially in northern New Jersey. Here some old warehouses appear to be empty.

Newark Airport has a train station with direct access to the AirTrain, the People Mover to the airport. This operates 24/7 and can provide easy, fast service from the airport into Manhattan at a fraction of the cost of a cab.

So many people live immediately adjacent to the railroad right-of-way. There are at least six tracks in this area with heavy freight and passenger service at all hours of the day and night, 7 days a week. 

Some cities had taken advantage of the economic boom of the 1980s and built new apartments as well as park-and-ride lots near stations, providing less expensive housing for people with jobs in New York City.Parks started showing up adjacent to the tracks about 20 miles from the City.

Now we were getting to landmarks I could recognize. Here we crossed over the Garden State Parkway. When I was little it was 2 or 3 lanes in each direction and there were four tolls of 25 cents each on the way to my grandparents.

The Raritan River, with New Brunswick just visible, had a canal built in the late 1600s that connected to the Delaware River, providing shorter access than sailing around Cape May and back up to Philadelphia from New York. Think about how transportation methods have changed over 300 years!The new parking deck is immediately adjacent to the station, which made it easy to park the car there while we went to to New York. Train tickets were $12 each way. Parking was $12 a day, for a total of $60 for the two of us for the two nights we were there.

To drive in, would have cost $6.50 each way for the car from New Brunswick to the Lincoln Tunnel on the New Jersey Turnpike, $12.00 for the Lincoln Tunnel toll, and and $50 a day for parking in the city near our apartment, for a total of $125. And by taking the train we didn’t have the stress of driving in the craziness. I think we made the right decision!

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2 Responses to Using the Train for our New York City Commute

  1. Pit says:

    Quite an interesting article. It’ll help me whenever i’ll have the chance to go up there. I’ve saved it on my computer for further use. Thanks! I’m looking forward to the second poart.
    Best regards from southern Texas,
    Pit

  2. My sister commuted daily to New York from New Jersey by bus for years, but finally threw in the towel and rented a teeny tiny studio apartment in lower Manhattan. It was funny, but that year both sisters and I were paying the same rent. The Manhattan apartment was one room with a closet kitchen and bath. The rent controlled apartment in Queens had a nice size livingroom, tiny kitchen, okay bedroom and a second bedroom that better qualified as a walk-in closet. My apartment in Nashville had two bedrooms, two baths, a fireplace, good size kitchen and plenty of parking as well as a community pool. Hmmm, New York New York……..it is a magnet for many.

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