Columbia Transportation

Fort Lee Shuttle

Columbia Transportation has seven fixed routes, linking up their campuses and outlying facilities together. Four of these link the Manhattan campuses together, one links Manhattan to the Lamont campus in Rockland County, and one links Manhattan to the Bronx, where there is a Columbia Housing facility. However, there is one more, the Fort Lee shuttle, and it is the oddity of the group. It links the Medical Center campus in Washington Heights, to Parker Plaza, a seemingly random office building in Fort Lee, NJ, just across the George Washington Bridge. However, if you take a look at the schedule, it makes a lot more sense. The route is rush hours only, and has an extra commuter-oriented stop at 178th Street and Broadway. Turns out, both directions are "rush hour" commutes. Columbia rents out office space at Parker Plaza, so people commute from NYC to Fort Lee, but also many Columbia faculty members live in New Jersey, so they commute from Fort Lee to NYC, using the parking garage in Fort Lee as a park and ride. However, most people on the route are using it for the latter purpose, any my NYC-bound afternoon trip was empty.

I checked the tracker before getting to Fort Lee, and saw no bus tracking, so I was a bit worried if a trip had possibly been dropped. When I got to the stop, there was an Academy-branded coach bus there, with Columbia decals in the back window, which the driver confirmed was the Fort Lee shuttle. I showed my ID card, and boarded the bus.

The bus in front of Parker Plaza

A blurry pic of the (empty) interior

We soon left the stop, right on time. We headed west on Lewis St, then turned right onto Fletcher Av. We continued for a block to Kelby St, where we turned onto the ramp for the lower level of the George Washington Bridge. Instantly express, I like it!

Turning left onto Fletcher Av

Express time!

We passed through the lower level toll plaza, and under Lemoine Av and Bridge Plaza. We passed under Palisade Av, passed by the bridge police station, then entered the access tunnel for the lower level. Soon, we started crossing the bridge, which, because of the rain, was shrouded in fog.

The bridge police station

Very much shrouded in fog

We continued crossing the bridge, then took the left exit for the Henry Hudson Parkway and West 178th Street. We squeezed the tomato around the tight exit loop, and continued onto West 178th Street until Broadway, where the GWB stop would have theoretically been, if there was anyone else on the bus.

Going around the exit loop

A house on 178th

We turned right on Broadway, and headed south to the Medical Center campus. However, instead of going to 166th Street and Broadway, like every other Columbia route that terminates here, we instead turned right on 169th Street, where the dropoff point was.

Turning onto Broadway

Turning onto 169th

Argh, I keep forgetting to take pics at the end of routes! Here's the bus in Fort Lee, again

Route: Columbia Transportation Fort Lee Shuttle

Ridership: I couldn't find any ridership statistics online, however in my experience, peak-direction shuttles tend to have quite high ridership. My reverse-peak trip had no one except me, but this route tends to get quite high ridership in the peak direction

Pros: It's a fast and direct connection to Fort Lee for Columbia faculty. It also has midday service in the form of the Lamont Shuttle deviating to Parker Plaza. There is no weekend service, but to be honest, it would probably get very little ridership on weekends anyway, so that's not really a complaint.

Cons: None, really. My bus wasn't tracking, but thats an IT issue, not a route issue.

Nearby and Noteworthy: The Koreatown in Fort Lee has some of the best food and desserts in the area! I'd highly recommend checking it out!

Final Verdict: 10/10

The first 10/10 on the blog! I think this route is a great example of a shuttle route. It doesn't deviate, doesn't make unnecessary stops, and doesn't have a stupidly infrequent schedule. All of these factors make it a 10/10 route. Good job, Columbia!