Living most of my life in New York City I am a strong supporter of public transportation. Recently, I along with two of my daughters needed to travel into Manhattan and we decided to take the New Jersey Transit Rail System into town. We took an early afternoon train form the NJ Transit Aberdeen-Matawan Station into Pennsylvania Station in New York City.
There was no railway clerk at the Aberdeen-Matawan, NJ Transit Station and I purchased three tickets from the vending machine; I was expecting to see a discounted price for off peak tickets but to my surprise off peak was not an option. There were discounted fares available for senior citizens and disabled people. The price for a round trip ticket to Manhattan was $27.50 for a total of $82.50 for the three of us. Additionally, we did have to drive to the station and there was a parking fee of several dollars. On the train I did ask the conductor about off peak tickets and she informed me they were abolished earlier in the year. Upon reaching Penn Station in Manhattan we were within walking distance of our destination.
Please note the costs reflected here are for daily round trip service; the rates for monthly tickets are different and they can be found at the NJ Transit website.
I would rate the service on the NJ Transit Railway very good. The cars were clean, the temperature was comfortable, there were plenty of seats and the conductor was professional. The train going into Manhattan offered some beautiful views of Raritan Bay. The train did have a minor delay because of some track maintenance but we did arrive in Manhattan within ten minutes of the schedule.
The ride home was equally pleasant arriving back at the Aberdeen-Matawan Station on schedule.
NJ Transit Railway vs. Private Automobile Analysis
I would not drive into Midtown Manhattan on a weekday afternoon; traffic is a nightmare and parking is limited and very expensive. Our alternative would be to drive into Staten Island then take the ferry to Lower Manhattan and then catch the uptown subway for a short ride to midtown.
The car ride is roughly 30 miles one way and the cost would be roughly 60% less; the Staten Island Ferry offers great views of New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan.
I did enjoy the NJ Transit Rail ride and I am still a strong believer in public transportation; however, on the next trip where there are three or more of us traveling I will be driving my car. I think NJ Transit may want to take a second look at the benefits of off peak discounts.