In January 2014, NJ Transit, and the Middlesex County Division of Planning asked us to conduct a study on transit improvements in a currently underserved area we termed “Northwestern Middlesex County”. The original study area is bound by US Highway 1 and Route 22 to the east and the west respectively; by the Raritan River to the south; and a combination of Park Ave. and the Metuchen Train Station to the North. However, through our fact gathering and analysis of census data and employer/employee geographies, the boundaries of our study area grew to include areas south of the Raritan River; including New Brunswick, Franklin, Manville, and Hillsborough. In addition to demographic review and identification of trip generators and destinations, we also conducted stakeholder interviews with the various municipalities, conducted site visits of the locations and potential bus routes, and reviewed existing and historical service in the area for context and reference. All of these methodologies are described in detail in the Background Information section.
From the data, we made modifications to existing routes in the study area to better serve the communities in Northwestern Middlesex County. Furthermore, we designed 5 new routes as well as 3 new shuttle routes in order to provide transit service and access to residents and employers in the area that currently do not have access to any transit services. Additionally, we designed routes from a holistic approach; the system is unified and there are multiple transfer points in this new system. These modifications and new routing are described in detail in the Route Proposal section. Also included in this section are phasing of the proposed routes and a preliminary budget for these improvements and new services.