Passing – End of the Line for Red & Tan/Rockland Coaches in River Edge ?
Journeys into River Edge
JOURNEYS INTO RIVER EDGE
Explorations of the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked & forgotten
Last week, some members of my family had occasion to go to the city to take in a show – a milestone as we continue to attempt to return to some semblance of normal after the world shut down at the start of COVID.
Having missed a late Saturday afternoon train, these family members turned to the bus. For years the easiest trip from River Edge (especially over a weekend as this was this case) would be the 11-A bus, longtime from Red and Tan, rebranded as Rockland Coaches and eventually folded in to part of the national Coach USA fleet.
But on this occasion, I noticed that their bus ride to New York was taking them along Boulevard East, the slow 165 local. Maybe they had missed the 11A, I thought.
Then when it was time for a return trip later that Saturday night they experienced a three gate long line for the last 165 leaving the city, again a local. (See picture below).
Fearful that there would be no bus for to get them back home, they called and summoned me to the city to pick them and get them home.
On the way back, I reminded my car load of the availability of the 11A, a Turnpike express until Palisade Park. But when we went to check the USA Coach/Rockland Coaches schedule we found that there was none for over the weekend.
The next day I went to do a little checking for myself. The Coach USA website had very little to offer in reference to the 11A. As significantly, there was no weekend service.
Instead most prominent was a note explaining “This route has resumed operation with limited service”. Limited indeed it was: four trips in all– all during weekday rush hour consisting of 2 eastbound to the city (passing through River Edge at approximately 7:45 and 8:45 respectively) and two others in the afternoon/evening making a return trip out of New York (Leaving the Port Authority at 5:15 and 6:15). No weekend service at all.
Seeking more, I looked elsewhere news about any changes in the 11A but found none.
It was only later, after checking the 165 schedule and looking for news about that line, did an item surface about how buses for the start of 165 trips would now originate from the Westwood depot. Turns out that the new NJ Transit Westwood depot is what was the old garage for the 11A and other buses for the Red & Tan, Rockland coaches and most recently Coach USA.
I also came across an article in which NJ Transit spoke of reworking its schedule to account for routes to and from Westwood.
It appears from all of this that the 11A, the last local remnant of Red and Tan has just about reached the end of its line. Yes, there are those four nominal runs to and from the city. I guess it is better than what the folks across in New Milford – they have lost service of the 21 line completely. In all it far different than how it was around here not too long ago.
At one time Red & Tan Lines 11, 11A, 22 (Howland Avenue) and 33 (Midland Avenue) all served our town. Most lines connected locals to Upper Manhattan (at 168th Street to connect to the 1 and A subways, and then to 178th Street with the opening of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station in the early 1960’s). A midtown turnpike run was added in the early-mid 1960’s with the 11A. Changes in demographics commutation patterns resulted in the gradual phase out of the bus service across the bridge. First went the 33, then the 22 and finally the 11 was merged with another route which left River Edge out of the picture - There then was no bus service to the via Kinderkamack (Though buses and vans across the bridge remain available along Route 4). All that time, ridership on the 11A to midtown remained strong, but now that seems to be ending.
New routes provided by NJ Transit aim to take up the slack (though there is inadequate “local” service only for those returning from the city and a weekend late night). Also train service has expanded on the Pascack Valley Line in recent years.
It is something we have seen before. Some 50 years ago NJ Transit took over the local bus service of Public Service (165), the Westwood Lines (55 merged in to the 165) and the Inter City Lines (40 & 41 now renumbered into 171 and on Route 4), and the train services of the Erie Lackawanna.
Just as those services fell away and were transformed, we now note today’s changes. Red and Tan (Rockland Coaches) held on for a long time because they provided good service for many years. We recognize how they did so in a professional and reliable way.