Leaving the vibrant urban areas of Jersey City, Hoboken, Brooklyn, or Manhattan for the New Jersey suburban lifestyle has many benefits.
The homes are more affordable and the schools are excellent. There are young families, safe neighborhoods, street fairs, parks, playgrounds, sports teams, and weekend barbecues with the neighbors.
There is also a dark side – the daily commute into NYC.
The commute can be either tolerable or miserable. It depends upon where you live, where you work, when you leave your house, mode of transportation, the weather, and if the trains are delayed.
Some towns have a direct train to NY Penn Station, others require transferring trains in Newark. Unfortunately, Westfield does not have any direct trains during rush hour.
Many Westfield commuters have used other options.
Residents who work downtown may drive to Jersey City and take a ferry. Some midtown workers prefer taking a bus to Port Authority station. Some will even take the bus in the morning and a train home in the evening. And some brave souls avoid public transportation and drive, often leaving their house before 6:00 am.
This post examines 12 ways Westfielders travel to work. I cover the commute time, transit costs, and parking costs. And since fewer people are commuting five days a week because of Covid, I included the costs for those who commute three days a week (13 times a month). These are the following ways people commute:
This article will discuss each option in detail. (If you want a summary, skip to the infographic at the bottom.)
Train from Westfield to NY Penn Station
When most people think of commuting to the City, they think NJ Transit.
During rush hour, taking a train into NYC requires changing trains in Newark Penn Station. The transfer is usually less than ten minutes, but it can be a hassle because riders may have to switch tracks.
Riders must switch trains because the diesel trains on the Raritan Valley Line cannot go through the tunnels to Manhattan. Only electric trains are allowed.
Westfield passengers disembark their train on Track 5 or Track 1 in Newark. If it's Track 5, they have to walk down the stairs to the station and then up to Track 2. From there, the electric train line goes into New York Penn Station.
NJ Transit has tried to address this problem when it introduced a new dual powered electric/diesel train in 2015 that could go directly into Penn Station. However, it only operates during non-rush hour.
The direct trains run at 9:16 am and 10:21 am in the morning. On the way home, the only direct trains from Penn Station run at are at 8:48 pm, 9:48 pm, and 10:48 pm.
Westfield commuters are extremely frustrated the "one-seat" rides don't operate during rush hour. The direct train would not only save them about 8 minutes, but they also wouldn't have to change trains.
Why hasn't NJ Transit added more trains?
Money and politics. Until recently, there wasn't enough money to address NJ Transit's challenges. That changed, however, with the passage of the $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill.
On December 1, 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to begin construction of the Gateway Tunnel project. This will allow The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to build a third rail tunnel under the Hudson River, add tracks in Penn Station, and replace damaged and aging tracks.
The $12.3 billion project will begin in summer 2023. Unfortunately, the targeted completion isn't until 2035.
Until then, Westfield commuters bound for New York Penn Station will transfer trains in Newark and continue to deal with frequent delays.
The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition is an advocacy group that keep tabs on efforts to add more direct trains to Westfield. Also, commuters can monitor NJTransit's performance and join the NJ Commuters Action Network's Facebook Group.
Despite the challenges and daily inconveniences, Westfielders rely upon the train. Taking the rush hour train is part of life.
The rush hour trains from Westfield to NY Penn Station average 56 minutes.
The monthly train fare from Westfield to NY Penn Station is $270. Three days a week costs $240.50 a month.
Trains from Westfield to Downtown NYC or Jersey City
When passengers destined for Downtown or Jersey City get off the NJ Transit train at Newark Penn Station, they’ll take the NJ Path train to the World Trade Center.
Assuming it takes ten minutes to transfer trains, the trip from Westfield to the World Trade Center NJ Path Station will be 58 minutes.
If passengers are going to Exchange Place in Jersey City, the trip is 54 minutes.
If the final destination is Hoboken, add 11 minutes. If it is Newport, add 2 minutes. Both stations require a NJ Path transfer at Journal Square.
Parking At Westfield Train Station
There is a two-year wait to get a Westfield train station parking permit. For those lucky enough to have one, the cost is $58/month for the station lot and $35/month for a lot a little further away on Watterson Street. (Contact the town's parking office for more information.)
Daily permits for the south side lot are $5/day.
There are also daily meters at the station and one block away on Watterson Street. Meters are $0.50/hour or about $110/month (assuming you will be commuting 22 days per month.)
About a half mile from the station, there is free street parking. Be careful to avoid streets with signs requiring a permit. Westfield parking enforcement is notoriously diligent.
The monthly commuting cost (parking and train fare) to NY Penn Station for full time commuters is $380. For those who commute three days a week, the monthly cost is $305.50.
Full time commuting costs to the World Trade Center or Jersey City is $355.25. Three times per week cost $266.50 per month.
Bus to Port Authority
Some commuters prefer taking a bus to the Port Authority in the City. They avoid a transfer and it runs more frequently than the trains.
North side residents who live close to Route 22 will often park across Rt 22 at a private lot on New Providence Rd and then catch the 114X or 117 on Rt 22E and New Providence Rd. Others take the bus at Lawrence Avenue and Rt. 22. The bus takes 52 minutes and a monthly pass is $251.
The NJ Transit bus 113X stops at North & Elm in downtown Westfield. It takes
49 minutes and a monthly pass is $251.
There's a steep discount for monthly passes. Commuters who take the bus three days a week into the city, will pay the same amount as full-time commuters who have a monthly pass.
Downtown Via Jersey City Ferry
Another option for those who work downtown is to drive to Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City and take the Liberty Landing City Ferry to the financial district (World Financial Center is near the WTC Memorial).
If the drive is before, or during the early part of rush hour, it should take 30 minutes to arrive at Liberty Landing Marina. The walk to the ferry is about 10 minutes and the ferry ride is 15 minutes. The ferries leave every 30 minutes.
The commute time is comparable to the train and bus provided there isn't unusually heavy traffic.
Parking is $7/day and the ferry is $14/day. However, the discounted monthly ferry fees are $154 for parking and $220 for the ferry.
Commuting full time to the Financial District by ferry will take 65 minutes and cost $374/mo. Commuters going in only three days per week, will pay $273 per month.
Alternative Train Stations
Since there are no direct trains during rush hour, some Westfielders drive to Metropark, Rahway, Newark, Linden, or Summit train stations.
Rahway Train Station
The train ride from the Rahway station to NY Penn Station is 42 minutes. The drive to the station is 17 minutes. Commute time is comparable to the above options, without having to change trains.
The daily round-trip fare is $18.50 or $270 per month.
There are a few options for parking at the Rahway station. There is a parking deck that is $100 per month, a lot for $85 per month, and metered spots at $7/day which equates to $154 per month.
If you opt to drive to Rahway station to avoid changing trains in Newark, the total commute time from Westfield is 59 minutes and the cost for full time commuters is about $424 per month. For three times per week, the monthly cost is $331.50.
Metropark Train Station
Metropark station is a 14-minute drive from Westfield and the train ride to NY Penn Station is 44 minutes.
The daily fare into the City is $21.50 round-trip or $310 per month.
There is a waitlist to get reserved parking in the garage. It costs $150 per month. Unreserved parking is available at $105/month and daily parking is $7.
A major inconvenience with commuting from Metropark is that it can take 20 minutes to enter or leave the station because of the parking structure's limited ingress and egress.
The commute time to NYC Penn Station from Metropark is 58 minutes and the cost is about $460 per month for full time commuters. Three days per week commuting will cost $370.50 per month.
Newark Train Station
Driving to Newark train station from Westfield is about 29 minutes and the train ride to NY Penn Station is 20 minutes. Assuming a 7 minute walk from the parking lot to the station, the total commute time is 56 minutes.
The monthly NJ Transit pass is $152 for full time commuters and $136.50 for commuters traveling three times per month.
The closest parking is adjacent to the station at Parkfast, 50 Commercial Street. The cost is $250 per month for full time commuters. Three times a week commuters will pay $169 per month.
For commuters going to the World Trade Center station, the trip from the Newark train station is 23 minutes and a monthly pass is $100.25. Three times per week will cost $71.50.
Full time commuting from Westfield via Newark Train Station to NY Penn Station takes 56 minutes and costs $402 per month. For three times per week commuters, the cost is $305.50.
Going to the WTC takes 59 minutes and costs $350.25 per month for full time commuters. The cost is $240.50 per month for commuters going in three times per week.
Linden Train Station
Some Westfield commuters on the south side, drive to the Linden train station to catch a direct train on the Northeast Corridor Line. The drive from Westfield is about 17 minutes and the train ride to NY Penn Station is 40 minutes. Assuming a 7 minute walk from the parking lot to the station, the total commute time is 64 minutes.
Full time commuters pay $254 for train and $132 for parking per month. This totals $386 per month. Three times per week commuters pay a total of $299 per month.
Summit Train Station
Some Westfield commuters on the north side, drive to Summit train station to catch a direct train into NY Penn Station. The drive from Westfield is about 17 minutes and the train ride to NY Penn Station is 43 minutes. Assuming a 7 minute walk from the parking lot to the station, the total commute time is 67 minutes.
The monthly NJ Transit pass is $298 and station parking is $264 per month for full time commuters.
Commuting from Westfield via Summit Train Station to NY Penn Station takes 67 minutes and costs $562 per month. Commuting three times per week costs $409 per month.
Driving to Midtown
Some brave commuters prefer to drive. If you leave Westfield before rush hour, you can arrive at midtown in 50 minutes. If you drive during the light part of rush hour, add 15 minutes. And, in the middle of rush hour, it could be 90 minutes or more.
Tolls going into the City include Garden State Parkway, NJ Turnpike, and the Lincoln tunnel. Returning home there is no Lincoln Tunnel toll. Daily tolls are $28.71.
Once you arrive in the city, the time it takes to arrive at the parking garage can be its own commute. Rush hour traffic in Manhattan isn't pretty.
Parking in NYC is expensive and $35 per day is typical.
Full time commuters will pay $631.62 for tolls and $770 for parking. This totals an $1,401.62 per moths. Three days per week commuters will pay $828.32 per month.
Ride to NYC in a Boxcar Bus
Boxcar offers a "business-class" commute to NYC. The buses are equipped with Wi-Fi, power outlets, and restrooms.
The cost is $39.98 roundtrip and parking near the station is between $7 and $9 per day.
A full time commuter (22 days per month) would purchase a monthly discount membership and pay $684.55 for the bus and $176 for parking. That totals $860.55 per month. Three days a week commuters will pay $623.74.
According to Boxcar's Chief of Staff, April Kabbash, since the pandemic, more riders are commuting 2 to 4 days a week and reserving seats with the same group of people. She also said the bus route in the city goes up to Madison & 71st and many passengers can avoid the subway.
Below is an infographic summarizing all 12 commuting options. Please reach out with any suggested changes. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-917-7926.