Morris County Metro - A Historical Look

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Parts of the Morris County Metro bus system were originally part of the county’s first public transit system, called the Morris County Traction Company. Trolleys began operating between Rockaway, Dover, and Wharton on July 1, 1904. The trolley lines were extended over the next dozen years to Succasunna, Lake Hopatcong, Denville, Dover, Morristown, Chatham, Springfield, Elizabeth, and Newark, with a branch from Denville to Boonton via Mountain Lakes. Bus service along the branch is currently provided by Lakeland Bus Lines.
Due to the growing use of automobiles, the trolley cars were replaced with buses on February 4, 1928. A few weeks later, the trolley company was sold to the Public Service Company. Some of the bus routes were later sold to small bus companies, such as the #10 route which was numbered "1072" when it was sold in 1966 to West Morris Transit Co. The Dover Trolley Facility currently serves as Lakeland's garage, Dover Bus Terminal, and offices.

Declining ridership resulted in West Morris Transit abruptly ending service by notifying its customers on the morning of February 3, 1970 that service would end that night. As some locations along the "1072" route such as Budd Lake, Wharton and Rockaway Borough were not served by Erie-Lackawanna commuter trains, Morris County government recognized the need to continue this local bus service. With unprecedented speed and cooperation from the New Jersey Department of Transportation, bus service resumed 5 days later, on February 9, 1970, under county sponsorship. After that, the Morris County Metro bus system was expanded and new routes were added to other areas of Morris County such as Boonton and the County College of Morris.

In 1976, the county removed the suffix "72" from the route numbers to simplify the route structure and eliminate confusion. In the 1980s, the operator was changed from Watchung Mountain Transit to PABCO Transit (formerly the Passaic-Athenia Bus Company) which would operate the routes for the remainder of their existence. PABCO would be taken over by NJ Transit Morris in 2011. The schedules below will show any changes to the system that occured between 1979 and the Fall of 2010 when the route system was renumbered (the internal route numbers assigned by NJ TRANSIT were basically turned into the public route numbers much like what was done to self-contained local bus networks in other counties such as Monmouth and Passaic.) and the routes changed completely by NJ Transit. Information on "870-Series" Routes from the NJT-era will be listed below the MCM routes.

Morris County Metro #1

The MCM1 Bus Route began operation on April 15, 1972 as the "172" connecting Morristown with Parsippany, Boonton, Kinnelon, the Willowbrook Mall and intermediate points. On April 2, 1983 the Kinnelon branch of the MCM1 was discontinued due to low ridership.
Inside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979
Outside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008
NJ Transit 871/874 Timetable

Morris County Metro #2

The MCM2 Bus Route began operation on September 5, 1972 as the "272" connecting Madison with Morristown, Dover, the County College of Morris, and intermediate points. On February 9, 1976 the route was changed east of Morristown with the creation of the "372" Route and would eventually be changed again with all service east of Morristown discontinued.
Inside of Timetable Effective June 18, 1979
Outside of Timetable Effective June 18, 1979
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008
NJ Transit 872-880 Timetable Effective November 15, 2010
NJ Transit 875 Timetable

Morris County Metro #3

In February 1976, the county assumed control of the part of Transport of New Jersey Route #70 that ran between the Short HIlls Mall and the Greystone Park Hospital. This route would be known as the "372" and would be extended to the Livingston Mall beginning operation on February 9, 1976. In 2003, service was extended to serve the Morris County Offices on West Hanover Avenue.
Inside of Timetable Effective June 26, 1978
Outside of Timetable Effective June 26, 1978
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008
NJ Transit 873 Timetable

Morris County Metro #4

The Morris County Metro #4 began operating on September 2, 1980. A new Federal Rural Transportation Program funded the service and Morris County was the first in New Jersey and second in the nation to begin bus service under this program. The first bus service west of Morristown along Route 24 began in March 1930. It was operated by the Mendham Bus Co. and ran between Chester and Morristown. During the early 1950’s the number of customers riding the bus decreased due to increased use of automobiles. Therefore, service was discontinued. The MCM4 would later add a single trip in each direction between Dover and Chester. The MCM4 would be discontinued in 2010 due to budget cuts by NJ Transit.
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008

Morris County Metro #5

The Morris County Metro #5 began operating on September 16, 1981. A Federal Rural Transportation Program funded the service which replaced most of the MCM9 route which had been spun off from the "1072" in 1977 when the Rockaway Mall opened. The route between Roxbury and Dover had once been part of the Morris County Traction Company's trolley route between Betrand's Island and Newark. This route ran Mondays and Wednesdays only and would be discontinued in 2010 due to NJ Transit budget cuts.
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008

Morris County Metro #6

The Morris County Metro #6 operated along Green Pond Road in Rockaway Township and was short-lived.

Morris County Metro #7

The Morris County Metro #7 began operating on September 16, 1981 linking Jefferson with the Rockaway Mall and Dover. A Federal Rural Transportation Program funded the service. This route ran Tuesdays and Fridays only and would be discontinued in 2010 due to NJ Transit budget cuts.
Timetable Effective July 1, 2005, Revised 2008

Morris County Metro #8

The Morris County Metro #8 began operating on September 14, 1981. The route ran on Thursdays only in a roundabout fashion between Morristown and Livingston Mall via Harding and Long Hill. The route was discontinued in 2004 when much of the area served by the route was no longer deemed rural.
Timetable Effective April 1, 2002

Morris County Metro #9

The Morris County Metro #9 began operating on August 11, 1977 when it was spun off from the MCM10 route. The route was discontinued in 1981 and was mostly replaced by the MCM5.
Inside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979
Outside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979

Morris County Metro #10

The Morris County Metro bus route #10 was originally part of the county’s first public transit system, called the Morris County Traction Company. Trolleys began operating between Rockaway, Dover, and Wharton on July 1, 1904. The trolley lines were extended over the next dozen years to Succasunna, Lake Hopatcong, Denville, Morristown, Chatham, Springfield, Elizabeth, and Newark, with a branch from Denville to Boonton via Mountain Lakes. Public Service bought the company and the #10 route in 1928 after the trolleys were replaced with buses. In 1957, Public Service merged the 10 with its 72 route with the route becoming the "1072" and sold it in 1966 to West Morris Transit. In 1970, Morris County took over the route and in 1976 it was renumbered back to 10. In 1977, with the opening of the Rockaway Mall, the route was split with the Dover-Budd Lake portion becoming the MCM9. In 2006, the route was changed in the Wharton-Rockaway Twp. area to serve a new Wal-Mart and eliminate an off-peak routing that had very little ridership.
Inside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979
Outside of Timetable Effective January 1, 1979
Timetable Effective October 1, 2000, Revised April 2002
Timetable Effective July 31, 2006, Revised 2008
NJ Transit 872-880 Timetable Effective November 15, 2010
NJ Transit 880 Timetable
Morris County Metro Beach Bus

This bus route was the brainchild of Morris County Department of Transportation Management Executive Director Frank T. Reilly to bring summer tourists to Lake Hopatcong and Bertrand's Island Amusement Park. The route's eastern terminal was the Summit Railroad Station and provided connections to Conrail at Dover and Summit Stations.
Inside of Timetable Effective June 26, 1978
Outside of Timetable Effective June 26, 1978

Post-2010 NJ Transit Morris Local Routes

In 2010 and 2011, NJ Transit created a number of routes that have little or no resemblence to the original MCM routes.
  • NJ Transit 872 Timetable The 872 currently operates between Morristown and the Mack-Cali Complex.
  • NJ Transit 871/874 Timetable The 874 currently operates between Morristown and Willowbrook Mall via Route 46 through Parsippany and Fairfield. This route also provides service along Jefferson Road in Parsippany serving a number of employment centers such as Coco-Cola and UPS.
  • NJ Transit 875 Timetable Effective April 2, 2011 The 875 originally served Roxbury, Randolph, Dover, Wharton, and the shopping centers off of Mount Pleasant Avenue in Rockaway Township. In September of 2011, the route was changed replacing the 872 between Dover and Morristown while the 880 was restored to the MCM10 routing through Wharton.
  • NJ Transit 878/879 Timetable The 878 & 879 were renumbered from the 966 Convent Loops in 2010. These routes were part of WHEELS and not the MCM Network. NJT has since combined these routes into the 878 route.

  • Roster of Known MCM Buses

    Fleet Numbers Model Former Operator and Number Notes
    371A GMC Fishbowl (T???-53??A) No other info available
    380-B GMC Fishbowl (T???-45??A) No other info available
    2206 Grumman 870-B MaBSTOA 652 Equipped with wheelchair lift
    2486-2487 Grumman 870-B NYCTA PA62 (2486)
    NYCTA 385 (2487)
    2489-2498 Grumman 870-B NYCTA 224 (2489)
    NYCTA 319 (2490)
    NYCTA 370 (2491)
    NYCTA 339 (2492)
    NYCTA 303 (2493)
    NYCTA PA38 (2494)
    NYCTA PA2 (2495)
    NYCTA 279 (2496)
    NYCTA PA16 (2497)
    NYCTA PA12 (2498)
    2559 NovaBUS RTS-06 (T60-206) Academy (Hoboken), previously operated by Community Coach Transferred to PABCO in 2006 by NJT, Was a 2000 Model
    2569-2580 NovaBUS RTS-06 (T60-206) Purchased new by NJT in 1999. About half of these buses were replaced in 2011 with refurbished buses of similar make and model from South Jersey.
    7244 Flxible 53102-8-1 Watchung Mountain Transit Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    7284-7289 Flxible 45102-6-1 Watchung Mountain Transit Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    7302-7304 Flxible 45102-6-1 Passaic-Athenia Bus Co. (PABCO) Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    7316-7320 Flxible 45102-6-1 Jersey Bus Inc. Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    7802 Flxible 35096-6-1 Watchung Mountain Transit Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    7808-78134 Flxible 35096-6-1 Jersey Bus Inc. Purchased new by NJDOT in 1976.
    Odds & Ends

  • Soon after the arrival of the 30-foot NovaBUS RTS-06 buses, it was reported that the MCM10 was suffering from extreme overcrowding due to the loss of 10 feet on the buses between the former NYCTA Grumman 870s and the RTS. Plans had been made to either upgrade the 10 to 40-foot buses or increase the frequencies on the route.
  • Around 2001, internet rumor was reporting that the routes operated by Lakeland would be absorbed into the MCM System due to a lawsuit between Lakeland and NJT over Midtown Direct rail service that had taken a number of Lakeland passengers and forced Lakeland to severely cut service on routes serving the areas that overlapped with the MCM3 and MCM8 routes. However, PABCO Transit had no interstate operating authority and NJT agreed to cover some of Lakeland's losses.
  • In early 2010, bike racks were installed on the fronts of the 13 NovaBUS RTS-06 buses used by PABCO at the time.
  • NJT's 2010 budget problems had slated all routes but the MCM10 to be eliminated. However a vocal community opposition (which included yours truly) saved the MCM1, MCM2, and MCM3 routes.
  • Inital plans for the NJT takeover from PABCO had the routes slated to be based out of the Orange Garage, however this idea was dropped due to being unpopular with the bus drivers and the routes remained in Dover.