Hackensack as a long-time transit hub - Part 5 - Buses

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Hackensack as a long-time transit hub - Part 5 - Buses

Journeys into Hackensack

In February, 2016 Hackensack became the 31st community in New Jersey to receive the designation Transit Village.

Most of those other transit village communities were so designated because of their connection to rail service. Though Hackensack has is blessed with two rights of way, and two stops along N.J. Transit's Pascack Valley line, the focal point of its designation was Hackensack Bus Terminal. The bus terminal provides access to 12 different NJ TRANSIT bus routes, and connects riders to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station as well as to Jersey City and Newark and many northern New Jersey locations.

The idea of the transit village is that it serves as an anchor Hackensack's downtown redevelopment plan for the area within a half-mile of the terminal. The plan promotes retail and commercial improvements and aims to create a connected community around all three transit facilities.

Notwithstanding the excitement this designation is creating, Hackensack has long been a transportation hub.

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This series is inspired by a wonderful source of information about Hackensack's history we recently came upon. It is very entertaining and easy to read ("Historic Facts about Hackensack", compiled and written by George Mercer Scudder, September, 1999). Part of it outlines Hackensack's changing role in transportation over the years. We share it with you here and highly recommend it to youIn Part 1 of this Series, we shared with you some of the history of the role of the river. In Part 2 we took a look at the roads, turnpikes and taverns of Hackensack's early years. Part 3 is about the trains that came through town.  Part 4 is about the Trolleys that traveled to and through town until 1930. Here we talk about the bus routes and terminals that made Hackensack a croosroads:

During the latter part of the 1920's many of the trolleys were being replaced with buses which could alter their course and did not rely on tracks or wires. New bus lines popped up all over; many operated by individuals over short distances. Small companies began to buy other small companies and eventually the Public Service Transportation Company owned most of them.

Some independent bus lines that endured into the late 1960's included the Westwood Lines (bus 54, 55 and 56), Inter-City Lines (40, 41, 45, 50,  55 and 65), and Red & Tan Lines (11, 22, 33). The rest were Public Service lines - such as the 1, 78, 80, 82, 83, 94, 102, 104 and 165.

The trolley that went up and down Main Street was replaced y a bus that went fiom Little Ferry to North Hackensack, and later to Westwood (165). Another bus line terminated at Summit and Catalpa Avenues and a private line owned by Nelson Company ran from New Milford, past the New Bridge Inn, over the old bridge by Steuben House and down Main Street to the Court House. The Nelson Garage was in the building opposite the old "Old Dominion" restaurant.

All bus fares were five cents (circa, 1930).

In the mid-1950's one could take the 165 from Hackensack to New York for 50 cents.

In the 1950's, after the opening of the New Jersey Turnpike, "Turnpike Express" lines were added - both for the 165 and the 55.

Municipal Bus Terminal was built in the 1930's as WPA Depression era project. Located a couple of blocks to the east of the crossroads Main-Mercer intersection, it was a nonetheless a hub. It was a landmark of the community for a long time. A 1939 WPA Federal Writers’ Project described the then new terminal as follows: “The Municipal Bus Terminal, River St. opp. Demarest Pl., is a modern one-and-one-half-story structure of white-faced brick and glass. Designed by Spencer Newman and opened in 1937, it was financed jointly by the city and the Works Progress Administration. The severity of the functional style is relieved by effective planting on the approaches. The terminal serves most buses operating in the Hackensack section.”  A recent book looks back on the former terminal: “The municipal bus terminal on River Street in Hackensack was a state-of-the-art building. … Comfortably heated with a cafeteria, it was a landmark in its day. Nowadays, it has been replaced by … the Heritage Diner.” (Sellarole et al.)

The existing Hackensack Bus Terminal, also called the Hackensack Bus Transfer, is owned and operated by New Jersey Transit. The bus station was built in the 1970s and was extensively renovated in 2007. It serves both NJ Transit bus passengers within Bergen County and beyond.

Now, as part of the redevelopment plans for Hackensack, one proposed project includes the bus terminal. It's at 133 River Street at the former site of the Bergen County Probation office. It is thought of as a vital component of Hackensack's effort to fulfill its stated mission as a transit hub, fulfilling its designation as New Jersey's 31st transit village.

Hackensack as a long-time transit hub - Part 5 - Buses

Image Credits: via Pinterest, Dave Dearstyne via mackbuses.net preserving bus transport in o scale