- Associated Press - Thursday, August 13, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey transit officials say Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia in September will make for a “challenging week” for everyone, and they urge patience and preparation.

The Sept. 26-27 visit is expected to draw 2 million people to the region, most by bus or car. The pontiff also will be at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 25 for an invitation-only event.

On Thursday, New Jersey transportation officials laid out plans to accommodate the more-than-usual outpouring of people.



Officials estimate more than one-third of the 2 million people will pass through New Jersey, with at least 100,000 extra cars, including a big portion of an expected 10,000 buses carrying about 400,000 people to Philadelphia. They are urging residents who live within 25 miles of Philadelphia not to take any unnecessary trips between Thursday and Sunday of that week.



New Jersey Transit is adding trains and buses to accommodate more riders, including expanded rail service to add 30,000 seats for travelers to New York for the pope’s event there.

River Line trains between Trenton and Camden will run every 15 minutes with limited stops; buses will be added to fill in gaps. Atlantic City Rail Line service will run express into Philadelphia hourly between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26, and Sunday, Sept. 27.

Riders will need special tickets for both lines. Those tickets can be purchased online at www.njtransit.com or at selected ticket machines beginning at noon this Saturday.

Special tickets are also available from PATCO, which operates a train from southern New Jersey to Philadelphia. It will also make limited stops.



The Benjamin Franklin Bridge between Camden and Philadelphia will be closed from Friday night, Sept. 25, to noon Sunday, Sept. 28. Some sections of Route 676 and Route 30 through Camden will be closed during those times as well.

Department of Transportation officials say other roads could be closed if traffic dictates, with the goal of avoiding backups that spill back onto the New Jersey Turnpike.

Local roads in Camden are also expected to be closed to private cars.



Bicycling won’t be so easy. NJ Transit says bikes won’t be allowed on the Atlantic City Rail Line for the weekend. They will be allowed on the Ben Franklin Bridge, but because of the expected crowds, they must be walked, not ridden over the bridge. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters will be allowed, though.



The U.N. General Assembly, a reliable source of traffic headaches for New Yorkers, is scheduled to meet the week of the pope’s visit. In addition, the New York Jets play Thursday night, Sept. 24, and the New York Giants play on Sunday, Sept. 27, at MetLife Stadium in northern New Jersey.


This story has been corrected to show that not all of the expected 10,000 buses headed to the Philadelphia will go through New Jersey.

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