Mayor’s Corner- Bayonne Mayor James Davis
When I was growing up in Bayonne, the Public Service Corporation owned the #14 Bus that ran from Avenue C in Bayonne to Exchange Place in Jersey City. The company operated numerous bus lines across New Jersey. Each bus bore the company’s insignia, a circle that had a triangle inside it. The same symbol was on the old Public Service building at 36th Street and Broadway in Bayonne. (The Bayonne Adult Medical Day Care Center occupies that building now.)
The Public Service Corporation began in 1903. The original version of Public Service brought together an electric power business and four trolley companies. The company added more enterprises to its holdings over the next two decades. In 1928, the various Public Service operations were reorganized into two companies: the Public Service Electric and Gas Company (PSE&G) and Public Service Coordinated Transport, which operated streetcars and buses. Gradually, most of the streetcars were replaced by buses. The Newark Subway, which opened in 1935, was an exception. It kept the streetcars until 2001, when they were replaced by modern light rail vehicles. Today, the former Newark Subway is called the Newark Light Rail.
The 1970’s and 1980’s saw many changes in the transportation industry. In 1971, Public Service Coordinated Transport was renamed Transport of New Jersey. At that time, many private railroads were going bankrupt. In 1976, several rail companies combined into Conrail, which wanted to focus on the freight business. In 1979, the New Jersey Department of Transportation formed New Jersey Transit, a government corporation, that began to buy out bus lines. In 1980, New Jersey Transit acquired Transport of New Jersey from Public Service. In 1983, New Jersey Transit took over Conrail’s commuter rail services in this state.
Long-time and retired commuters may remember that New Jersey Transit reorganized and renumbered the former Public Service bus routes in 1989. For example, the #14 Bus in Bayonne and Jersey City became the #81 Bus, and the #9 Bus in Jersey City became the #80 Bus.
Today, New Jersey Transit owns and operates most commuter rail lines in the state, with some exceptions. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates the PATH trains. Amtrak, a federal government corporation, runs trains through New Jersey along its Northeast Corridor. SEPTA (the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), and PATCO (the Delaware River Port Authority Transit Corporation) have trains in Pennsylvania and South Jersey.
Although ownership and management have changed over the years, mass transportation remains vitally important in New Jersey. The City of Bayonne will continue working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit, and private transportation companies to keep transit on track in the years to come.