To reduce traffic congestion and ease commutes from South Jersey to Philadelphia, transit planners want a $46 million "bus rapid transit" system on the heavily traveled corridor that includes Routes 55 and 42, and I-676.
The proposed NJ Transit system would allow buses to travel on shoulder lanes and in the median for part of the trip and would provide 1,800 new parking spaces for commuters in Winslow and Deptford Townships.
NJ Transit officials said Tuesday that they would send a letter this week to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission asking that the proposed bus system be added to the commission's long-range plan, which would pave the way for possible federal funding.
The rapid-bus system would be in addition to a proposed light-rail line that would operate between Glassboro and Camden. An $8 million environmental-impact study is under way for that proposed rail line. The Delaware River Port Authority is overseeing the study, which is being paid for by NJ Transit.
NJ Transit has been examining alternative routes for a rapid South Jersey-to-Philadelphia bus system for several years. Now, agency planners have decided on a plan - so-called Alternative No. 6 - that they will ask the transit board to approve. That decision is expected by May or June.
If approved and funded, the rapid-bus service could be in full operation by 2020, said R.J. Palladino, NJ Transit's assistant director for strategic investment.
An estimated 6,400 riders would use the bus daily by 2035, according to NJ Transit projections. It would cost from $5 million to $10 million a year to operate the system, planners said.
The plan chosen as the "locally preferred alternative" would call for 26 buses running at 10- to 15-minute intervals during rush hours from Winslow to a location west of City Hall on Market Street in Philadelphia.
The plan would expand the existing Avandale "park and ride" lot on Route 536 in Winslow Township and add new parking lots on College Drive in Winslow and Delsea Drive in Deptford Township.
The rapid-bus system would allow buses to travel in dedicated lanes, with traffic-signal priority, to speed the commute between South Jersey and Philadelphia. Stops along the way would have train-style shelters with ticket machines and real-time information about bus arrivals.
NJ Transit officials hope to pay for the system with a combination of federal and state funds, said Lou Millan, NJ Transit's director of programmatic planning.