NJ Transit has approved wider access for people who want to bring their bicycles on the train, but new weekend restrictions have some bike advocates miffed.
The transit agency's board on Monday approved bike access at stations with low-level platforms, where riders must climb stairs to board trains and where bikes were previously forbidden from boarding.
Bikers already can board at stations with high-level platforms, which enable riders to board trains without climbing stairs.
NJ Transit Executive Director James Weinstein estimated that about 60 percent of NJ Transit's stations have low-level platforms.
Less popular was the board's decision to approve rules that would restrict bikers from riding weekend trains into New York City between 9 a.m. and noon 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 board also approved bidding to conduct soil stabilization on wetlands surrounding the Secaucus Junction rail station so that 10 additional bus berths can be added to the four existing berths. Weinstein said the expansion is needed to accommodate special events at MetLife Stadium and particularly the scheduled 2014 Super Bowl.
The total project is estimated to cost $7.7 million.
The agency also approved spending about $1.5 for repairs to the drawbridge over Shark River in Belmar, Monmouth County, as part of an overall $6.5 million bridge project.
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