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Demand for mass transit to NYC exceeds capacity of commuter lots along Route 78

CLINTON — The bus lot overlooking routes 78 and 31 has spaces for 300 cars but is filled by 6:30 each weekday morning with commuters headed to New York City, say residents familiar with the routine.

“It would be great to have more parking,” said Councilman Dan Shea, one of those commuters. He’s able to limit his trips to the city to an average of twice weekly, he said, but will drive if he has later late-morning appointments rather than deal with the bus because parking is “such a problem.”

“The Park and Ride has a parking problem, we don’t,” Mayor Janice Kovach said at a council meeting this week at which parking restrictions aimed at commuters and others taking the bus to New York City were expanded.

Some of the talk centered on commuters who live in Pennsylvania and take the bus to New York from New Jersey. The mayor mentioned a transportation study done within the past few years and said it showed that about 15% of the people using mass transit here had Pennsylvania tags on their cars.

“It is a public street,” Kovach said later. “Should Pennsylvania residents be able to park on Center Street so they can commute to New York City? They’re not paying Jersey taxes.”

“Where do you put a commuter lot?” wondered Councilman Marty Pendergast. “Shouldn’t there be one” west of the town and alongside Route 78? he asked.

The mayor and council voted 6-1 to extend a 6-hour parking limit between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Park and Ride is really in neighboring Clinton Township, which long ago instituted a parking ban on streets near the lot, but it’s a short walk to the town.

Clinton Police Chief Brett Matheis suggested the expanded parking regulations after he said townspeople complained about cars parked at the curb for the day in what is a residential neighborhood.

Frank Gallagher lives on Center Street, outside of the zone with the 6-hour parking, and said he hadn’t noticed any problems with commuters parking there, nor did he mind it when others parked on the street.

Councilwoman Megan Jones Holt lives on a street where the restrictions will now go into effect, and said she also hasn’t noticed a problem.


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