Bay Head is the southern terminus of the North Jersey Coast Line and the station has always been the terminus of the New York and Long Branch Railroad (jointly owned by the Pennsylvania and Jersey Central) since the railroad reached Bay Head in 1881. Off-Peak service to the station is primarily from Diesel Shuttle trains that run every two hours or better to and from Long Branch connecting with electric service to and from Penn Station. Since May 18, 2015 three round-trip dual-mode one-seat ride Express Trains began running each rush hour providing direct service to New York Penn Station for the first time. On summer weekends (strating in 2015) these same trainsets are used for four round-trip one seat ride Beach Express Trains (on summer weekends the Shuttle frequency increases to hourly). This in addition to a few (about 5) diesel through trains to and from Hoboken Terminal that use the Waterfront Connection (which opened in 1991).
Just south of the station is the 11 track Bay Head Yard. This yard includes a ballon-loop track (a legacy from pre push-pull days) and all trains arriving at the station on the normal Bay Head-bound west track 1 (there is also a crossover switch just before the station) have to go around the ballon-loop after discharging their passengers to enter the train yard. This means that shuttle trains, although push-pull, loop at Bay Head but simply change ends at Long Branch. This means there is no consistency in the direction the locomotive faces.
The station consists of a single very short (about 2 cars) low-level platform with a tactile warning strip only along Track 1. This track and platform is used by trains receiving passengers and is just north of the grade crossing with Osborne Avenue. Discharging trains on track 2 simply open one vestibule door over the grade crossing, the ballast in front of the platform is built up enough that perhaps passengers sometimes walk over it (similar to operations at Manasquan) before leaving the station going around the ballon-loop into the train yard (that is south of the passenger platform). The platform itself has a wooden shelter with mainly green and cream beams, plus some modern black windscreens covering a few benches. There is a shingled roof. TVMs were installed in May 2011 but were removed with just two wooden and metal stubs remaining when I visited in April 2013. The platform is along a tiny passenger drop off area with a few ADA parking spaces. TVM service has since been restored at the station.
Across the street from the station, along the edge of the tracks that lead in and begin the train yard, is a 99 space parking lot with always free parking. The passenger parking lot is clearly split from the employee parking lot and the yard beyond it by low fencing and plenty of No Trespassing signs. Tere are also a number of red signs that say Bay Head Passenger Station above a red arrow. The reason for these signs is the employee parking lot leads to a few buildings in the train yard that could be confused by new travelers as the station for train service.
All Photos taken on 1 April, 2013