317: Asbury Park - Ft. Dix - Philadelphia

March 4, 2022

When I first heard Miles in Transit say that he would be livestreaming a ride on the 317, which he said was the longest local bus route on the east coast, I was intrigued by this route. This route is one of NJT's behemoth bus routes. Taking nearly 4 hours to ride the entire length, this bus heads from Asbury Park along the New Jersey coast all the way to downtown Philadelphia along local roads stopping in the towns along the way.

Of course I tuned in to watch Miles' entire livestream. I had also watched his bus on the Transit app for the entire duration of the stream, which he was fine with.

For such a rural part of New Jersey (evident by Miles losing cell service multiple times during his journey), this is a really good route. Schedule wise, this bus runs 9 round trips on weekdays, and 8 round trips on weekends, but a few trips only run the Philadelphia - Cookstown or Philadephia - Lakewood segments.

As this bus runs a long distance, the service hours are interesting for the rural landscape served. Buses start running as early as 4 am from Philadelphia, and arrive back in Philadelphia as late as 1 am that night. But with only 9 trips, frequenices are every 2 to 3 hours.

The bus runs a mostly direct route along local roads. The bus runs along the coast from Asbury Park to Point Pleasant Beach, paralleling the North Jersey Coast Line operated by NJT as well. In Point Pleasant Beach, the bus makes its westward turn towards Philadelphia, passing through Lakewood and Wrightstown. However, in order to serve Pemberton Township, a large deviation is required. This is due to the McGuire Air Force Base having restricted roads around it. The bus travels southwest between Wrightstown and Pemberton, turns to go east to Pemberton Township, and then back west along a different road. The trip from Pemberton to ... Pemberton takes 20 minutes. 20 minutes, just to serve Pemberton Township (this is getting confusing with the naming). The bus proceeds along Route 38 all the way to Camden, and proceeds into Philadelphia.

NJT's bus fares are very weird, and this route is no exception. Travelling the entire length of the route (when it went to Philadelphia) cost $22.50! On the other hand, only going Asbury Park - Camden (or vise versa) costs $9.75. But still, $9.75 for that entire length is really cheap and well worth the money spent.

For ridership, NJT doesn't really publish ridership numbers, but the trip that Miles was on during his livestream got a handful of passengers. It wasn't completely dead, but not packed full.