Expect unprecedented amount of people relying on transportation network
Newark, NJ – New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) Commissioner Jamie Fox and NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim along with representatives from the NJ State Police, NJ TRANSIT Police, NJ Turnpike Authority, South Jersey Transportation Authority, and Camden County today detailed plans for the upcoming Papal visit to New York and Philadelphia in September.
“Safe and secure transportation for people travelling through the state of New Jersey is vital to the success of this event,” Fox said. “It will take all of us working together to make that happen.”
“Representatives from New Jersey’s four transportation agencies, along with our partners at the New Jersey State Police and local law enforcement, have been working together for months to put plans in place to accommodate the unprecedented amount of people that will be utilizing our transportation network,” said Fox.
MAGNITUDE OF THE EVENT
The World Meeting of Families, the host of the Philadelphia events, has estimated as many as 2 million people may attend the public Mass on Sunday, September 27 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. They expect 50 percent to arrive by car and approximately 10,000 charter buses to bring people to the event.
Only buses that are registered with the World Meeting of Families will be allowed to park in the limited spaces available in Philadelphia and Camden. Buses may register on the World Meeting of Families web site. This massive influx of vehicles combined with the closing of the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia is likely to cause paralyzing gridlock in the region.
New Jersey’s transportation agencies are recommending people avoid unnecessary travel.
If you are traveling along the I-95 corridor between Delaware or points south and New York City and points north, expect congestion and delays. We recommend you choose an alternate route around the Philadelphia area.
Finally, if you plan to attend any of the Papal events, be prepared. If you are planning to attend the public Mass, expect to walk a long distance. Pedestrians will be allowed to cross the Ben Franklin Bridge, however it is about a five-mile walk from Camden across the bridge to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
It also is important to understand that there will be no parking for private cars or buses in Camden.
The Ben Franklin Bridge between Camden and Philadelphia will be closed at 10 p.m. Friday, September 25 through noon Monday, September 28. Because of the bridge closure, NJDOT will be closing I-676 westbound from Exit 3 to the Bridge, as well as Route 30 westbound from Airport Circle (Route 38/Route 130) to the Bridge.
These closures will undoubtedly result in congestion and delays on all of the state highways in the region, particularly in Camden, Burlington, and Gloucester counties, as well as the interstate highways and toll roads. The following NJDOT roadways are expected to be affected by the increased traffic: I-295, as well as Routes 38, 42, 45, 47, 55, 70, 73, 90, 130, 168, and 322.
It is likely that there will also be congestion and delays to I-95, I-195 and US 1, and we also are anticipating that the New Jersey Turnpike and the Atlantic City Expressway will experience much heavier volume.
For motorists looking to cross into Philadelphia to celebrate Mass with Pope Francis, the NJDOT and New Jersey’s other transportation agencies will utilize detour and electronic message signs to divert traffic onto northbound and southbound US Route 130 to access other crossings into Philly.
Once again, there is no dedicated parking for private vehicles in the City of Camden – there will only be parking available for registered buses.
NJ TRANSIT IMPACTS
“This will not be your average travel week,” Hakim said. “I cannot stress enough that the system will be pushed to capacity. We have a finite cadre of assets at our disposal as well as a constrained system.”
On Thursday, September 24 and Friday, September 25, NJ TRANSIT will provide service for the regular commute with additional capacity offered via rail and bus into and out of New York City.
On Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, special tickets will be needed to travel on both the Atlantic City Rail Line and the RiverLINE light rail service. There are a limited number of tickets available for both of these days, and they will go on sale at www.njtransit.com beginning Saturday, August 15 at noon. Tickets will also be available from certain Ticket Vending Machines or from a ticket agent. These are advance purchase tickets only - no tickets will be available for purchase on the day of the event.
Atlantic City Rail Line
On Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27, the Atlantic City Rail Line will be express onlybetween Atlantic City and Philadelphia. Trains will depart Atlantic City beginning at 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and will operate approximately hourly for most of the day. Roundtrip tickets will be $30.
Trains will depart Philadelphia for Atlantic City on a “load and go” basis following the event.
Limited bus service will run along the Atlantic City Rail Line corridor on Saturday and Sunday in order to serve our regular ACRL customers who utilize stations in between Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
The bus service will follow the ACRL schedule as closely as possible, but customers should note that bus service tends to move slower given the general flow of traffic on local streets.
The RiverLINE will operate on a 15-minute schedule on Saturday and Sunday in both directions between Trenton and Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden with no service in downtown Camden between WRTC and the Entertainment Center.
Once events in Philadelphia are underway, the RiverLINE will shift to a 30 minute schedule.
Special tickets are needed for the RiverLINE as well and must be purchased in advance. The cost of the ticket is $5 and will be sold in 2-hour increments (for example, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. which means the ticket must be used during that time period.
Stops along the RiverLINE will be limited to just Trenton, Bordentown, Florence, Burlington South, Pennsauken Route 73, Pennsauken Transit Center and WRTC. Bus Service will stop at those light rail stations not being serviced by the RiverLINE that weekend. Bus service will not operate at the Beverly and Delanco light rail stations.
Regularly scheduled weekend service will operate on all other heavy rail lines (plus Stadium service for NFL football on Sunday).
On Thursday and Friday, buses will run regularly- scheduled weekday service on routes in the Philadelphia/Camden area. Once the Ben Franklin Bridge closes to vehicular traffic, all Philadelphia bus routes will be truncated at the Walter Rand Transportation Center in Camden but will remain on schedule for trips outbound from the Camden area.
Bus service will be enhanced on the majority of our bus routes throughout the weekend particularly in South and North Jersey.
It is important to note that those bus customers boarding at Walter Rand Transportation Center will be subject to a special queuing operation in order to facilitate the safe and orderly boarding of passengers following events in Philadelphia.
Access Link, NJ TRANSIT’s ADA-paratransit service, to and from Philadelphia will be suspended on Friday, September 25 following the closure of the Ben Franklin Bridge, through Monday, September 28, and will resume regular reservation service on Tuesday, September 29. On Saturday, September 26, and Sunday, September 27, all service in and out of Camden County will be suspended.
For more transportation-related information related to the Papal visit, go to http://www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/events/papal.shtm.
Click here for informational graphics.