River LINE a summer transit hub
Aug 15, 2012 08:34AM ● Published by Community News Service
By Jesse Elliot and Lexie Yearly
The cheap fairs and convenience to travelers seeking Camden’s Waterfront entertainment district has made New Jersey Transit’s light rail, the River LINE, an easy alternative for concert-goers and families to use as their form of summer transportation.
And when these summer travelers are added to the volume of those who frequent the River LINE, they’re in for quite a ride.
As more passengers piled onto the River LINE at each stop the evening of July 14, it was evident that many riders were taking the trip to the Zac Brown Band concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden.
“It’s pretty easy to take the rail because it drops you off right in front of the concert,” said Bordentown resident Mike Hodnicki. “We only take it to go to the concert, so the fact that it drops us off right there is pretty convenient.”
Indeed, the River LINE makes its last stop at the Susquehanna Bank Center, which saves concert goers from “the aggravation of driving into Camden,” concert-goer Jessica Purdy said. As parking at most of the River LINE stations is free and it costs only $1.50 for a one-way adult ticket — only $.70 for a one-way senior ticket — most travelers can make it to and from their event for less than the cost of gas it would take to drive there.
And, hubs at Trenton and Camden allow for affordable travel to local destinations off of the River LINE, like New York City, Philadelphia and Atlantic City. A one-way ticket to Camden, plus a bus ticket to Philadelphia, for instance, is only $2.80 for adults and $1.25 for seniors.
Nevertheless, traveling on the River LINE on concert days and weekends does come with its hang-ups.
“When all of us are lined up outside at the booth trying to hurry up and get that ticket because we need to make that train,” said one traveler, who wished to remain anonymous. “They need to get more booths…because if we don’t get a ticket, they want to give us a $75 charge.”
The River LINE currently charges up to $100 to those who have invalid, or not time stamped, tickets and to those who fail to purchase their tickets before boarding the train. With insufficient booths in place during busy hours, for fear of being late to or missing an event or appointment, some ride at the risk of incurring this fine.
And, on weekends and when special events happen in Camden, the River LINE can get overly crowded. Recounting a previous busy day on the River LINE, regular rider Carlos Johnson said, “We were packed up, drunk. It got hectic. People were pushing one another. Literally, it gets dangerous.”
And, noticing that handicap seating was not easily accessible, nor obviously marked, Johnson offered a fellow rider his seat.
As the summer concert series at the Susquehanna Bank Center presses on, the River LINE crowd keeps growing.
Just before noon on Friday, July 20, a crowd of people slowly trickled onto the River LINE platform in Bordentown City. Despite the constant rain that had started about an hour earlier, passengers weren’t deterred from buying their $1.50 tickets and braving the weather.
19-year-olds Amanda Mundy and Jesse Humenik said the weather wasn’t an issue for them as they waited for a train to Camden, where they were going to see the Camden Aquarium.
The pair may not be avid River LINE users, but Mundy, of Morrisville, said they usually take it a few times each summer, especially for concerts.
“It’s better and cheaper than taking the ferry or the L and all that other stuff too…nice and quiet and smooth and cheap, and it’s a good way to get down there,” she said.
Several groups waiting for the south train planned to spend the day at the aquarium, too, including out-of-towners from Florida and Pennsylvania.
Also beginning at noon that day was the Warped Tour concert at the Susquehanna Bank Center.
It was a popular destination for kids lining up on the platform, some toting coolers or backpacks.
Danielle Kraemer, a Bordentown City native, said the River LINE is easy transportation for someone without a license. Besides using it to get to Warped Tour with the rest of the crowd, the now-Township resident also takes it to visit with friends.
“I take it occasionally to hang out with people in Riverside, Cinnaminson,” Kraemer said. “It’s convenient when you don’t have a car.”
For some, the River LINE is a regular stop. Brian Brooks takes the train every day to go to work in Trenton, citing its economical value as one of the biggest advantages. Brooks regularly utilizes public transportation, and said the River LINE is even cheaper than the bus, which costs $2.65.
“It’s a lot faster, too,” Brooks said. “When you take the 409 bus, there’s so many stops on the way down. This is just pretty much straight through. I can get to Trenton in 12 minutes.”
The Bordentown Township resident said he was looking forward to the new station being built as part of the Bordentown Waterfront Transit Village in Bordentown Township, because of its close proximity to his apartment.
For more information about the River LINE, go online to riverline.com.