Hoboken Green Hop

Madison & Willow Loop

With few exceptions, NJ Transit is the sole provider of bus service in the state of New Jersey. Yes, there are a few county-run services in Central and Northwestern Jersey, and of course there are intercity and private services, but for the most part, it is NJT. The city of Hoboken, however, is an exception. It has its own free three-line system of routes that run in loops. Why this system exists is somewhat a mystery, as NJT serves the city well with local buses, express buses to New York, as well as the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail. I rode the Green Hop, serving the western side of the city, riding some of the outbound section, and the entirety of the inbound section. Let's start the review.

I got off the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail at 9th St/Congress St and walked over to Madison St. The system operates on a flag-down system, and soon enough, a minibus came and I got on. There was a COVID "partition" blocking the driver off from passengers, although it was really a piece of plexiglass with a handle attached to it.

A fitting vehicle for a loop route like this.

The interior of the bus.

We proceeded north on Madison St, passing a ShopRite, before turning right onto 12th St. We continued on 12th St for two blocks, then turned left onto Adams St, beginning this route's only deviation. We crossed under the 14th Street Viaduct, and then passed by the Hoboken Garage of Academy Bus Lines.

The ShopRite on Madison St

Some buses at the Academy garage

We turned right on 15th St, passing some industrial buildings, as well as some empty lots. We then continued for a few blocks, then turned left onto Willow Av, starting the inbound portion of the route. The map says there is a deviation-within-a-deviation on 14th St, but we just...didn't do that. Alright, that works too!

Nice view of Manhattan from 15th St

Hoboken's express route to NYC, the 126

We continued south on Willow Av, passing mostly residential areas, before reaching 12th St, where a lot of people got off, and our deviation ended. So, no one used the route's only deviation. Maybe...get rid of it? At 11th St, Willow Av narrowed to a one-way road, and we passed lots of low-rise apartments.

Residential buildings on Willow Av

Rear window shot!

We passed Church Square Park at 5th St, and the Hoboken University Medical Center at 4th. South of 4th St, Willow Av was lined with restaurants on both sides. There was a bunch of retail at the intersection when we hit 1st St and intersected the Blue Hop, but instead of turning on 1st like the Blue Hop, we continued south past the Hoboken Public Works facility to Observer Highway.

Church Square Park

The intersection of 1st St

We turned left on Observer Highway, passing Hoboken Terminal's yard. We passed some high-end condos and apartments opposite the train yard, and then instead of dropping off at the Hoboken Terminal Bus Station, we turned left onto Hudson St, then right on Hudson Pl, where I got dropped off.

Terrible shot of a train in the yard

Old streetcar tracks on Hudson Pl

A Blue Hop photobombing our bus

Route: Hoboken Green Hop

Ridership: According to an article in the local paper, the entire system got 236,333 riders in 2019. Divide that by 251 (because the system only runs weekdays), and you get 941 riders per day for the whole system, which for a loop-only system like this, is quite good.

Pros: The whole system is free! In addition, the Green Hop supplements the light rail on the west side of the city, and provides the only service along Willow Avenue (aside from a few southbound-only, peak-only trips of the 126).

Cons: There is a pointless deviation to serve pretty much nothing on the north end of the city. In addition, the buses should really serve the busway at Hoboken Terminal, not just dropping off outside of it. Lastly, the minibuses really aren't that great (however I do see the economical appeal of using them).

Nearby and Noteworthy: Lots of cute cafés along the Madison St portion of the route.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Hoboken: Cut the deviation in the north of the city, and make the bus serve the busway at Hoboken Terminal. Very few people will be using a deviation that serves nothing, and I'd imagine most people taking this to Hoboken Terminal are going there to catch a train. If these two simple changes are implemented, this route could easily get a 9/10.