Princeton Muni Transit provides free bus rides from Palmer Square

From left: Princeton Councilman David Cohen, Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, Administrator Bernard Hvozdovic, Councilwoman Mia Sacks, resident Libby Zinman Schwartz, Mayor Mark Freda, Land Use Engineer Jim Purcell, and Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton attend a ceremony for the inaugural ride of the Princeton Muni Transit on Aug. 16.LEA KAHN/STAFF
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From left: Princeton Councilman David Cohen, Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, Administrator Bernard Hvozdovic, Councilwoman Mia Sacks, resident Libby Zinman Schwartz, Mayor Mark Freda, Land Use Engineer Jim Purcell, and Municipal Engineer Deanna Stockton attend a ceremony for the inaugural ride of the Princeton Muni Transit on Aug. 16.LEA KAHN/STAFF

For Libby Zinman Schwartz, restoring the free public transit bus – formerly known as the Princeton FreeB, but now known as Princeton Muni Transit – couldn’t have some soon enough.

“I am ecstatic,” Schwartz said as she stood on the corner of Nassau Street and Palmer Square. She was one of the first riders on the municipally-operated Princeton Muni Transit bus system, which was launched at 9 a.m. Aug. 16.

“Everyone from the Harriet Bryan House and Elm Court is just thrilled to get this back,” said Schwartz. She lives at the Harriet Bryan House, which is one of two developments for senior citizens operated by Princeton Community Housing on Elm Road.

Restoring the free bus ride will make a huge difference in the lives of the senior citizens, most of whom have been staying indoors because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Schwartz said. They have suffered from loneliness and social isolation, but the bus will help to remedy it.

“No one has had adequate transportation. We have had to wait so long for this,” Schwartz said.

Princeton officials have been working to restore the free, municipally-operated bus service, which was suspended under Gov. Phil Murphy’s stay-at-home order in March 2020. The bus service, which is free and available to all residents, was established in 2008.

Until the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Princeton had operated the Princeton FreeB bus service. The two buses, named Marvin 1 and Marvin 2, were named after the late Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed.

The restoration of the municipal bus service was approved by the Princeton Council at its July 26 meeting. The council awarded a contract for four months to WeDriveU, which operates Princeton University’s Tiger Transit bus service.

The Princeton Council approved a four-month contract with WeDriveU, which will cost up to $44,000. It will give municipal officials more time to prepare specifications and accept bids for a new, expanded transit system.

In the meantime, the Princeton Muni Transit will operate weekdays – but not on weekends – on a 30-minute loop schedule. It is free and available to everyone, regardless of age or abilities. The bus is ADA-compliant.

The bus service begins weekday mornings at 9 a.m. on Nassau Street at Palmer Square. It stops at the Senior Resource Center, Elm Court, the Princeton Municipal Building, Redding Circle, the Princeton Shopping Center, Avalon Princeton on Witherspoon Street, and the Merwick-Stanworth apartments at the corner of Stanworth Lane and South Stanworth Drive.

The schedule – but not the route – changes in the afternoon. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, the bus runs from 2-5 p.m. On Wednesday and Friday, it runs from 4-7 p.m.

The Princeton Muni Transit bus is not available on New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Riders must wear a face mask. Service animals and portable oxygen tanks are permitted on the bus.

No eating, drinking or smoking is permitted on the bus. Passengers may play music, if headphones are used and it does not disturb other passengers.

For more information and schedules, visit www.princetonnj.gov/580/Bus.