NJ Transit’s new rail schedules, which became effective on November 14, show dramatic improvements in weekend service on the Main and Bergen Lines, and some weekday trains were restored to the schedule. This is a step in the right direction, but more improvements are needed, especially on weekends throughout the system.
Since ridership has been rising from its lowest levels in the spring of 2020, weekend trains have shown a strong recovery. Weekend riders on the Main/Bergen Lines between Hoboken and Suffern (and intermediate stops) now have a wider choice of departure times than were available during the past several years. On one line, there is now substantially more service. As the headline to a press release from the agency said: “14 New Weekend Trains on Main/Bergen County Improves Service Frequency from Bi-Hourly to Hourly All Day.” On the Bergen County Line through Rutherford and Fair Lawn, that move almost doubles the level of service, while gaps on the “Main Line” portion of the route were plugged. There were also some adjustments to the schedules on trains going past Suffern to Port Jervis, although no trains were added on that part of the line.
The Lackawanna Coalition has consistently called for hourly weekend service on all full-service rail lines, wherever feasible. This includes the southern portion of the North Jersey Coast Line between Long Branch and Bay Head, and the Pascack Valley Line between Hoboken and Spring Valley, with whatever infrastructure improvements are needed to support that level of service. On one our core lines of concern, we have also called for hourly trains on the portion of the Montclair-Boonton Line between Montclair State Station and Hoboken; a service that now only runs every two hours or less frequently during the weekend. The current service pattern calls for a Broad Street Station, Newark, connection for trains between Bay Street Station and Hoboken and trains on the Morris & Essex Line (M&E) going between Penn Station, New York, and Dover. M&E trains run hourly on weekends, and the Coalition recommends that Montclair-Hoboken trains run the same level of service, with an extension to Montclair State and along the old Boonton Line to Denville or Dover, if that becomes feasible.
There are also more trains on weekdays, mostly during peak-commuting hours or on the shoulder of the peak period. They include two new round trips on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) line to Trenton and the North Jersey Coast Line. On the M&E, there is one new outbound train from Penn Station to Summit and another from Summit to Hoboken, as well as two outbound trains from Hoboken. There is one new train in each direction on the Pascack Valley Line, with one inbound morning train converted to an express. There are also four new weekday trains in each direction on the Main/Bergen Lines, in addition to the enhanced weekend schedules.