FLEMINGTON, NJ – The Hunterdon County Board of Chosen Freeholders took another leap toward support of better public transportation in rural west-central New Jersey, which has no train line close to Flemington beyond the NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line’s terminus in High Bridge, north of I-78.
More funding is being allocated for LINK Bus system upgrades that will allow for safe, virtually-controlled scheduled pick-ups.
The freeholders approved the $69,985 requisition with vendor Ecolane, transit solutions software for online scheduling, for the acquisition of three software enhancements for the LINK transportation system. Prior to the freeholder board’s vote to approve, the Hunterdon County purchasing agent explained the purchase for a Self-Service trip-booking app, funded through the CARES Act with funds distributed by NJ Transit.
Deputy Freeholder Director Sue Soloway had several comments about improvements for LINK ridership and the related planning and work of the county’s Transportation Task Force, which she has served as liaison to since early 2019, when she was appointed by former Freeholder Suzanne Lagay to this initiative.
“In 2019, I was part of the Transportation Task Force organized by former Freeholder Director Lagay to examine the LINK Bus system in Hunterdon County,” Soloway said. “One of the recommendations that came from the Task Force was the need to develop more detailed information and data on those using the LINK system, and to provide users with more real-time LINK information. I am advised that the pre and post-trip software enhancements procured under this contract will increase data accuracy and allow the vendor and county staff to view the pre- and post-trip notes in real-time.”
Acquisition of the mobile app software will allow anyone with a smartphone the ability to check the on-time status, view LINK routes, make trip changes or estimate the time of arrival at LINK stops.
“The app will also make this information available through a computer for those without smartphones,” Soloway said. “This information helps those who count on the LINK system for rides to work or to medical appointments. If the LINK is running behind schedule due to traffic, passengers can check their trips on the same day and they won’t have to wait (over the phone) to speak with a dispatcher. Additionally, the software may be helpful for families who may be concerned about their family member who uses the LINK, but may need assistance to check-in, or to make sure their loved ones have arrived at their destination.”
She also noted the federal CARES Act funding through a New Jersey Transit grant as “offsetting the need to use county tax dollars.”
Soloway credited the enhancements to the work of the Transportation Task Force, plus excellent work from the Hunterdon County Department of Human Services/Transportation Division staff.
Since 2015 multiple changes in the transportation landscape across Hunterdon, such as Lyft and Uber operating in the county as well as additional taxi services, were noted by the Transportation Advisory Committee. All of the agency transportation services will be included in that plan while taking into consideration all of the factors, and what particular needs or gaps in transportation services may exist.
A review of the LINK transportation system and ridership trends will be noted in the transportation plan. Among ancillary documents that will be reviewed for completion of the Coordinated Services Plan are the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority Regional Coordinated Human Services Transportation Plan; Hunterdon County Human Services Needs Assessment; the Hunterdon County Senior Needs Assessment and the Hunterdon County Community Health Needs Assessment.