Sussex County – Newton, NJ

Sussex County Transportation Study

Sussex County, a large and mostly rural county in northern New Jersey, has a handful of small communities aligned in a crescent formation. The county was providing transit service through a combination of county-wide demand-response vans and a single large loop connecting the towns and cities.

Nelson\Nygaard analyzed the effectiveness of this service approach and found that 98% of fixed-route ridership was concentrated along one side of the loop. The other side was mostly rural and accounted for only 2% of ridership, even though it took up 20 minutes of the route’s running time. Since the service area was so large, drivers who would go on break would simply take their bus out of service somewhere in the field, rather than driving out of the way back to the garage.

To improve the service, Nelson\Nygaard suggested eliminating fixed-route service along the rural part of the loop and institute a single crescent-shaped corridor linking the cities and towns. Residents in rural areas would still have access to the countywide demand-response service. A major innovation was to have fixed-route and demand-response drivers swap vehicles when the fixed-route driver was scheduled to go on break, allowing the fixed-route vehicle to continue operating without interruptions.

The result of the concentration of service along the single corridor, and the swapping of vehicles to keep fixed-route buses moving, resulted in a doubling the number of trips per day for 98% of riders.