120-year-old NJ Transit bus garage to get a makeover and addition

NJ Transit bus riders and worker will get a bigger, renovated garage by late 2023 under a $27 million project that is now underway.

Renovations and an expansion of the nearly 120-year-old brick Market Street garage in Paterson — which once housed trolley cars and now serves as a major service hub for the agency’s Northern Division — are starting, agency officials said on Wednesday.

“The renovated facility will have a new public entrance, with access to a dedicated ticketing and information office for customers,” said Jim Smith, an NJ Transit spokesman.

The addition is needed to serve the number of riders using buses operating out of the facility — a number that’s predicted to significantly increase in the coming years, officials said. The garage houses 150 NJ Transit buses that make nearly 1,800 trips weekly. Those routes had a pre-COVID-19 ridership of 9.9 million annual passenger trips, officials said.

“Current ridership warrants upgrades to this facility, so it can continue to operate efficiently,” Smith said. “As this facility is over 100 years old, the project will bring the facility up to modern standards and a state of good repair.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, ridership on NJ Transit local in-state bus routes has been between 50 and 60% of pre-coronavirus ridership, higher than other public transportation types in the state like commuter trains and buses into Manhattan. Rider surveys showed that essential workers have relied on local bus service throughout the pandemic.

To accommodate the anticipated increase, a 3,200-square-foot addition will be built, in addition to major renovations to the existing building. That work includes a new slab floor in the main area of the facility, installing an elevator, various mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades, upgrades to safety systems, and repairs to the building’s brickwork façade.

The addition will provide two more maintenance bays for the garage, which will allow quicker and easier servicing of existing and future technology buses, Smith said.

The renovations will also get the facility up to standards so that it can accept zero emission vehicle charging in future, he said. NJ Transit is engaged in a pilot program to test electric buses in Camden.

“Our Market Street garage is older than the New York City subway system, and this rehabilitation will allow us to better maintain buses and serve our customers,” said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit President and CEO in a statement.

Total cost for the renovation and expansion is estimated at approximately $27.3 million, which is funded by the state Transportation Trust Fund and the Federal Transit Administration. The project has an estimated late 2023 completion date. Construction could start in the coming weeks, Smith said.

That bus garage replacement plan is part of NJ Transit’s five-year capital plan introduced last year by Gov. Phil Murphy. It identified modernizing NJ Transit bus garages among the investments needed to have reliable, efficient service. The agency has 16 bus garages, which house and maintain its 2,300-plus bus fleet.

“This project represents one component of our larger Bus Garage Replacement Program, which, when fully funded, will enable us to store larger buses to accommodate future ridership growth, improve reliability and accelerate our transition to a 100% zero-emission bus fleet,” Corbett said.

The main contract for the Paterson bus garage work was awarded by NJ Transit’s board last year to DMR Construction Services of Waldwick, for $18.3 million, plus 10% for contingencies. It was the lowest of the five bids submitted. The Board also awarded a $2.8 million contract, plus a 5% contingency fund, for construction management services to AEOCM Tishman.

In honor of the facility’s historic legacy and ongoing role in the region’s transportation network, various artwork will be installed, including:

  • A mural by Tim Gaydos on the exterior garage façade/barn wall
  • Works by Alastair R. Noble and Kathy Bruce on the stair risers and exterior fence railing
  • A ceramic mural at the interior elevator area by Katherine Hackl
  • Mosaic flooring by Anne Oshman
  • Two paintings by Maria Mijares in the ticket office area

(Larry Higgs | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com)

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