The transit agency's board on Monday approved bike access at stations with low-level platforms. Bikers already can board at stations with high-level platforms. NJ Transit head James Weinstein estimates about 60 percent of stations have low-level platforms.
"We heard from many customers who felt that NJ TRANSIT's bicycle policy was too restrictive to make riding their bikes to and from train stations a viable option," said Commissioner Simpson. "In taking a fresh look at the existing policy, we found that some simple adjustments would enable us to significantly expand access for our bicycle-riding customers."
Effective July 1, 2012, NJ Transit's new Bike Aboard Program will allow customers to bring their bicycles onboard trains on all rail lines at all train stations, with some exceptions during heavy travel periods.
The board approved rules that would restrict bikers from riding on trains into New York City between 9 a.m. and noon on weekends and riding out of New York between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.
An initial proposal had called for an extra hour of weekend restrictions, from 8 a.m. inbound and 4 p.m. outbound. But after hearing from several individuals and members of bike advocacy groups at Monday's meeting, board members voted against the longer restrictions.
"Frankly, those trains are full," Weinstein said. "We're trying to balance the needs of bicyclists and the needs of our daily riders."
Kevin O'Connor, vice president and general manager of NJ Transit's rail operations, said he studied policies used by the Long Island Rail Road and MetroNorth, which also run trains into New York, as well as Philadelphia's SEPTA. Still, the vote disappointed bike advocates who noted that previously, allowing bikes on NJ Transit trains on the weekends was up to conductors' discretion.
"That means if you're in New Jersey you can't go Central Park unless you get up at 6 a.m. or wait until 1 in the afternoon," said Janna Chernetz of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, an advocacy group.
The policy will also allow train crew members to use discretion when allowing bicycles onboard trains if they have concerns about public safety.
The new policy does not require preregistration or permits, and there is no additional charge for bringing bicycles onboard trains.
Below are the highlights of the revised policy:
The revised policy will be available on njtransit.com on July 1.
Get Eyewitness News Delivered