New service to the Route 130 Connection bus line will soon enable Mercer County Community College students from Hightstown and East Windsor to get an inexpensive lift to the college campus in West Windsor, officials announced today.
The collaborative effort, shared by the college, Mercer County and the Greater Mercer Transportation Management Association (TMA), aims to increase opportunities for students to participate in higher education.
“Finding ways to help students overcome barriers to college is central to college success,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “Increased access to employment and educational opportunities is the purpose of realigning and expanding service for Mercer County’s Route 130 Connection bus route, and we are so pleased to partner with the college and the TMA to add additional transportation options.”
The primary routing change is new access to the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) West Windsor Campus from the East Windsor Township/Hightstown area.
“Looking at the numbers, it just made sense,” said Cheryl Kastrenakes, Executive Director of TMA. “After meeting with MCCC staff and reviewing current enrollment and census data from the area, it was apparent there was a need for transportation service from the eastern part of the County and we wanted to see that gap filled.”
College records indicate that last semester there were 567 students attending MCCC from East Windsor Township/Hightstown.
John Simone, MCCC’s Assistant Dean of Student Services, noted that the addition of the 130 Connection bus route from East Windsor and Hightstown to the West Windsor Campus will be an excellent complement to the college’s existing shuttle service from the James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton and the Quaker Bridge Mall shuttle, which was added just last year.
“We listened to the transportation concerns of students, parents and community members, and we are grateful to the Greater Mercer TMA for helping us find a reasonable solution,” Simone said. “Our priority is to remove obstacles to student success, and through Mercer County’s expansion of 130 Connection bus service, we are working together to eliminate barriers related to transportation.”
County Executive Hughes, who this year announced the formation of the Educational Attainment Commission, reiterated the County’s support for the service to MCCC.
“Improving the educational attainment of our residents may be the single most important thing we can do for the future of Mercer County,” Hughes said. “Higher education provides training and a strong foundation for future employment. Better transportation access will make it easier for County residents to obtain that education.”
Mercer students can view the complete schedule for service to MCCC’s West Windsor Campus at www.mccc.edu/shuttle.
The first trip from the East Windsor/Hightstown area arrives at the college at 8:35 a.m. There are four more trips to the College and nine return trips.
“The TMA has been closely monitoring ridership on the route and for the last two years and has been working with Mercer County on various routing and scheduling scenarios,” said Kastrenakes. “Besides the routing to MCCC, we wanted to make the route more efficient by providing more bus service to areas underserved by transit, streamline the route where it is underperforming and eliminate duplication of service that is already provided by NJ TRANSIT.”
Besides the new service to MCCC, other highlights of the new route include:
- Increasing the number of trips from two to three between Trenton and the warehouses at exit 8A, with limited stops along the way on weekdays.
- Connections to the ZLine bus that serves Matrix Business Park/Amazon at Hamilton Marketplace.
- More frequent service throughout the weekday and on Saturday. Currently, the route does not operate during the middle of the day.
- Saturday service will operate from East Windsor Township/Hightstown bus stops to Hamilton Marketplace, only. Connections to NJ TRANSIT bus routes at Hamilton Marketplace will allow passengers to travel to other locations in Mercer County. Kastrenakes explained, “The elimination of Saturday service in Hamilton and Trenton was a duplication of service that is provided by NJ TRANSIT. By not serving those areas, we are able to deploy resources to underserved areas. The travel time between locations is reduced from every 45 minutes to 35 minutes.”
Discontinued service and alternative transportation options:
- Service to RWJ Hospital will be discontinued. Service to the hospital is provided by NJ TRANSIT’s 603 bus route.
- Elimination of some trips to and from Hamilton Rail Station. Options include NJ TRANSIT 606 or 608 or NEC line.
- The bus stop on Quakerbridge Road will be relocated to Sloan & Clover Square pending approval.
The route, which operates primarily along the Route 130 corridor, is funded in part through a grant received by NJ TRANSIT. The Mercer County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) is the recipient of the grant funds that are used to provide transportation services to access employment. The exact fare is $1 each way; drivers do not make change.
The new schedule can be found at http://www.gmtma.org/pg-bus-mercer.php