Secaucus to Meadowlands Transitway

At the added August board meeting, a concept/design contract for this project, which began in April with an Innovation Challenge. The goal is to improve transit between Secaucus Junction and the Meadowlands complex. We question spending $3.5 million for the study—for that, we could surely have weekend service to Montclair State!—but given the approval, hope that they are actually investigating real needs, not unverified corporate allegations; that they consider using assets they already have—rail lines, primarily—and that the private entities that are looking for more options for employees and customers alike will be asked to contribute to the cost. We understand that there are contractual obligations, but they are very unclear, and we hope that the board insists on realistic cost projections and funding plans before going any further with this project.

Resolved: 2 Statements from the Coalition

Our August meeting was productive; we had been talking about a few issues on which we were able to come to resolution, and we approved two statements:

Regional Fare Cards: Not So Fast!

We are concerned about recent suggestions to have NJ Transit accept regional fare cards, despite the convenience for most riders, as we have yet to see one implemented in a manner that allows senior citizens to their federally-mandated discounts without preregistration. Conditions of federal funding requires that seniors with proper ID need only present theieRr document (Medicare card, usually, with photo ID if requested).

Greenway?

Our open letter to the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) suggests that the plan for Norfolk Southern to sell its right of way on the former Lower Greenwood Lake line to Open Space Institute or to private real estate investors is a mistake. We believe that it is imperative to prevent removal of the tracks on the right-of-way, a valuable asset, so that there is the possibility of restoration of freight and/or passenger service. We ask the NJTPA to persuade New Jersey Transit to purchase the right-of-way for future use.

RUN Conference

On Friday, October 15th, from 1 to 5 p.m., the Rail Users’ Network hosts a regional miniconference focussing on Midwestern rail. They hope to host the long-delayed Newark conference in person in Spring 2022, with the Lackawanna Coalition as local advocacy partner and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Association as host. Keep watching for details!

MEET A MEMBER: LC Secretary Daniel Chazin

How I Became Interested in Trains & Rail Transit

It was the passenger service operated on the New York & Long Branch Railroad that was largely responsible for my interest in trains and rail transit.

I grew up in Teaneck, where I still live. I was born in 1951, and passenger service on the West Shore Railroad, which provided service to Teaneck, wasn’t abandoned until 1959. But my father, who then worked in Jersey City, rarely (if ever) rode the West Shore trains, and I have no recollection of ever riding (or even watching) passenger trains on this line.

Continue Reading MEET A MEMBER: LC Secretary Daniel Chazin

Mahwah Celebrates Its Original Station

Take a look at the official seal for the Township of Mahwah. You will see a small yellow building with dark trim, obviously built during an earlier era. It is the town’s original train station, built in 1871, and located near the station in use today. It is easy to see from the train window if you look out the left side of the train, going toward New York State. Mahwah is the last stop in New Jersey, before Suffern.

Continue Reading Mahwah Celebrates Its Original Station

Report from the Chair: Sept./Oct. 2021

On August 23rd we once again met in person at Millburn Town Hall, where we had an informative presentation from Josh Crandall of Clever Commute. Josh, who had given us a presentation a few years ago, reminded us of the project’s start when a group of 6 friend started sharing updates in 2006, just helping each other get to and from work with less stress. Since that time, Josh used his IT skills to transform the project into a full-fledged “app”, with a free and premium version. It had taken off successfully through February 2020—and then SARS-CoV-2 arrived, bringing a drop in rail ridership of 90%. Lots of Clever Commuters allowed their subscriptions to expire, not knowing what the future might hold.

Continue Reading Report from the Chair: Sept./Oct. 2021

“Midtown Direct” at 25: A Remembrance

On Monday morning, June 10, 1996, trains on the Morris & Essex (M&E) Line rolled directly into New York’s Penn Station for the first time, and travel on the line changed forever. No longer would it be necessary to go to Hoboken and take a PATH train or a bus to get to Manhattan. Although some riders still go to Hoboken and some now take a ferry to the Financial District, many more take the M&E straight to Penn Station. It was the Kearny Connection, which links the M&E and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) at Swift Interlocking in the Meadowlands that made the new “Midtown Direct” route possible.

Continue Reading “Midtown Direct” at 25: A Remembrance

Hearings on N.Y.C. Congestion Pricing

Congestion-pricing hearings are being planned from midSeptember to midOctober, all virtual: 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) and New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) today announced they will hold 13 public meetings between Thursday, Sept. 23, and Wednesday, Oct. 13, on the proposed Central Business District Tolling Program (CBDTP), also known as congestion pricing. The meetings, which will all be held virtually, will allow the public in a 28-county region in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to learn more about the initiative and offer comments.

There is a Web site for information on the project.  The 13 hearings are broken down by region, with 3 specifically devoted to environmental-justice (EJ) issues.  New Jersey’s dates are September 24, 10 a.m. to 12 noon; October 4, 6 to 8 p.m.; and October 12, 6 to 8 p.m. (EJ).

There are also 2 new phone lines. The first, (646) 252-7440, would allow the public to leave comments or questions about the proposed program. The second, (646) 252-6777, allows the public to hear a brief description of the project, to register to speak at the public meetings, or request in advance language or American Sign Language services, or request language at least five days in advance of each meeting. American Sign Language services and CART Captioning will be provided for all meetings.

Vintage Lackawanna Parlor Car

A vintage 1912 Lackawanna parlor car, previously used by a subscription “commuting club” will run on the Whippany Railway Museum’s Sunday excursion trains in September and October this year.

Tickets for that car are $22 per person, and museum admission is included. Trains leave from the museum at 1, 2, 3 and 4:00 p.m. The dates are September 12 and 19, and October 3, 10 and 17.

Unfortunately, Whippany is not transit-accessible; at least not on weekends.<br><br>Who is interested in getting a group together to ride?

Details at the museum’s site.

1912 Lackawanna Rail subscription car
Photo from the Whippany Railway Museum Web site.

NJ Transit “Reform” Bill Even Weaker

We were disappointed, but not surprised, to read this article. (No word on whether the Assembly version has made a similar change):

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/nj-transit-reform-bill-drops-key-provision/

TRENTON, N.J. — A bill proposing reforms for management of NJ Transit has removed one of its key proposals, changing the way the agency’s board chair is selected.
 
NorthJersey.com reports state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, majority leader and the bill’s sponsor, has dropped the requirement that the chair be selected by board members, instead of automatically going to the commissioner of the state Department of Transportation.