Armed with Cheez-Its, pretzels, and a chalkboard to track their travel and fares, Jeremy Zorek and Miles Taylor attempted what few – perhaps none, at least not voluntarily – have done before.
They traversed the length of New Jersey from its southernmost point to the New York state line using only NJ Transit local bus service. The two urban planning majors embarked on a 19-hour, 43-minute, 17-second hike from Cape May to Warwick, New York, using 10 bus lines that largely avoided major highways and combined cost less than $100.
“It was actually surprisingly perfectly smooth,” Zorek said. “We have had no missed transfers. Everything went according to plan.”
Spoiler alert: You can actually get to Warwick from Cape May using just three NJ Transit express buses — or by car in under four hours — but as Taylor said, their way was “more fun.”
“It’s something I love to do, take these very local services and chain them together for these unholy travel threats that nobody would really do, but it’s kind of cool that you can do it,” Taylor said.
Plus, Zorek said, they were able to see the entire Garden State.
“Literally, we went from swamps to mountains,” Zorek said.
Transit enthusiasts since Thomas the Tank Engine
Both Taylor and Zorek have described themselves as children who have never grown out of the Thomas the Tank Engine, childhood love of trains stage. They love all things transportation—buses, trains, any other form of transportation—and they both study urban planning, with Zorek at Rutgers University and Taylor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Their transportation friendship began after they stumbled upon each other’s transit-focused social media accounts, and then met by chance – and fittingly – on the 30th Street train station in Philadelphia.
Now they travel together on trains and buses, exploring all that New Jersey’s public transit ecosystem has to offer. In May, they traveled the state end-to-end on NJ Transit trains, going from Port Jervis in New York to Atlantic City, a breezy 7 1/2-hour trip compared to nearly a full day of bus hopping in October.
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This latest bus adventure began on a Friday in October by taking bus no. 313 in Cape May at 10:02 PM
The trip was covered via video by Taylor and with a tweet from 32 wire on Zorek’s Twitter account. It began with a photo of the two college students grinning in the dark behind a NJ Transit charter bus, with Taylor paying homage to both public transportation and her native Massachusetts by donning a Boston “T” subway sweatshirt.
“A Love Letter to New Jersey”
The first move to Vineland was the only potential snag the boys said they encountered.
Bus 553 was supposed to arrive at 12:48 AM, but it didn’t show up on the NJ Transit app.
“We’re standing there and we were thinking, the only other bus leaving Vineland is the one to Atlantic City…everything else has stopped for the night,” Taylor said, as they considered ending the trip. Soon, however, she showed up a few minutes late.
“That was the real tension part of the trip,” Taylor said.
The next transfer was to Pleasantville, where they arrived at 1:55 am. Their next bus wasn’t due for another hour, and luckily Johnny D’s pizza place was a two-minute walk away and open until 3am. boosters,” Taylor said.
“We started calling the trip ‘A Love Letter to New Jersey,'” Taylor said. In addition to late-night pizza, they’ve begun counting on other Jersey hallmarks — Wawas, diners, and pitcher handles — to pass the time.
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The worst stop was at Ponte Vecchio, where they had to wait from 6 to 9 in the morning for the next bus. One of the few nearby businesses was a ShopRite, which didn’t open until 7 in the morning. They also killed an hour of walking to a bus stop further along the route to warm up.
“That was a low point in terms of where we were waiting, because we were very tired at that point and knew there was still so much to do, and cold and stranded on the side of Route 9, which isn’t very pleasant,” he said. Zorek.
But it went up from there. They were able to get French toast and fries at a diner at Tanner’s Corner between the buses; they refueled again at Willowbrook Mall in another break.
At each stop, the straphangers documented the bus shipment with a whiteboard, complete with columns to track the route number, zone, fare amount, transfer fee, and replacement costs for each bus they took. taken.
“NJ Transit’s fare system is kind of infamous for being a little hard to figure out,” Zorek said.
Let’s stop here.
Zorek and Taylor essentially needed a five-column spreadsheet to track what they were being charged for taking buses on the same transit system. And while some tickets could be paid for using the NJ Transit app, some transfers and substitutions had to be paid for in cash.
The complicated system is sometimes even too annoying for drivers. Taylor said a bus driver — who coincidentally drove the two on two different bus lines back to back and recognized them when they got on the bus — gave them a pass for a $1 surcharge. 55.
“It was a little craziness thrown in there, but we loved it,” Zorek said.
All told, the trip north cost them $48.25 each.
They arrived in Warwick around 5.40pm, but there wasn’t much time to celebrate. Zorek said he used the restroom at a nearby Burger King and had to quickly walk back to catch a bus home in New York.
“At that point, we’d been up for something like 30 hours, so we literally hopped on the bus back to the Port Authority and immediately fell asleep, and only woke up when we got back to New York,” Zorek said.
To watch their odyssey, check out Taylor’s video on her YouTube channel.