NJ Transit bus service to Sea Isle City will resume on Saturday morning, seven weeks after it was suspended because of safety concerns.
The buses had been following a detour since January because of a weight restriction on the Townsends Inlet Bridge, and officials decided to stop the service entirely in May, saying seasonal crowds made the route unsafe.
Local residents and regular bus riders immediately raised concerns, and Mayor Len Desiderio and state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, worked with state officials to revise the route in order to restore the service.
“We worked very, very hard on this,” said Lana Samuels, of Ocean City, who takes the bus regularly and gathered hundreds of signatures and held rallies to raise awareness of the issue. “This means a lot.”
The buses will enter the city via JFK Boulevard now, make a right onto Park Road, make a left onto 42nd Street, make another left onto Landis Avenue, then turn left onto JFK Boulevard westbound. They will make a stop near the intersection with Central Avenue outside the Sea Isle Ambulance Corps. building.
They previously would drive down Landis Avenue to 63rd Street and make a U-turn by driving through the residential section of the island, but officials said that would be unsafe in summer because the streets are lined with cars and filled with pedestrians.
“We were very pleased to have … come up with a solution that will resume service while protecting the safety of area residents, customers and employees,” said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
Snyder said the full schedule of the restored service will be available on the agency’s website, NJTransit.com.
About 10 people take the bus to or from Sea Isle City on peak days during the summer, Snyder said, but Samuels and officials made the case that the effect on each of those people no longer having public transportation can be dramatic.
Samuels is disabled, and, she said, she needs the buses to get to Sea Isle City to raise money for her nonprofit organization, People in Crisis. She said the new route resolves the situation.
Snyder said the revised route is currently planned to remain in place until Cape May County repairs the Townsends Inlet Bridge, which has had a weight limit of 3 tons since an inspection in January found the movable span of the 72-year-old drawbridge had deteriorated significantly.
An NJ Transit bus weighs more than 20 tons, so it would not be able to travel across the bridge to get from Avalon to Sea Isle City as it did previously.
Cape May County Engineer Dale Foster said the county is still in the planning stages of making limited repairs in order to lift the weight restriction.
“To go into a complete rehab of the span, you’re talking millions of dollars,” he said.
Contact Lee Procida:
Follow Lee Procida on Twitter @ACPressLee