On a typical weekday before the coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands of commuters passed through the Journal Square train station in Jersey City on their way to and from New York City. The station is one of the busiest on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson, or PATH, train line that runs under the river between New York and New Jersey. Last spring, during the height of the lockdown, ridership through Journal Square plummeted to less than 3,000 people per day and has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Erin Vinson, a 34-year-old who works as a training coordinator at a safety school for construction workers, is one of those still using the station. On weekday mornings, Vinson rides her electric scooter about a mile from her apartment to Journal Square and then takes the PATH to downtown Manhattan. Her scooter stays behind in Jersey City, locked in a shelter on the sidewalk outside the station. Each morning, Vinson swipes a card to unlock the door to the shelter — a perforated aluminum hut, wrapped in advertising for a nearby burger shop and topped with potted plants — and leaves her scooter alongside the few bikes also parked inside. “It’s a brilliant idea,” Vinson says of the system. “Everything about it is easy.”