NJTPA Hosts Open House, Seeks Comments

On July 27th from 4 to 7 p.m., the New Jersey Transportation Planning Association (NJTPA) will hold a virtual open-house meeting: drop in any time to see an introductory presentation, then join staffed break-out rooms to ask questions and share your thoughts on NJTPA’s Plan 2050 (https://njtpa-plan-2050-njtpa.hub.arcgis.com). The plan includes the long-range Plan 2050 as well as draft plans for the periods 2022–2025 and 2022–2031. In addition, there is a draft Air Quality Conformity Determination. In addition to its open house, the agency is taking written comment through August 4th at Plan2050@njtpa.org. Our first comment? Do better than so many government agencies and actually allow for reflection time after their presentation before the public-comment period closes—we’d like the NJTPA to accept comments until late August.

Which Train Is This?

For some time, Coalition Secretary Daniel Chazin has been reporting on confused passengers on the 12:45 Pascack Valley train to Spring Valley.  Because a 12:49 Bergen line train to Middletown is scheduled on Track H at 12:49, only 4 minutes later, the automatic announcement that a “train is expected in 8 minutes” can cause inexperienced passengers, or those rushing to board one of the trains, to mistake the Pascack Valley train, arriving first, for the Middletown train right behind it.

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“Celebrating” the PANYNJ’s 100th Anniversary

OPINION

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) was formed by an act of Congress 100 years ago, on April 30, 1921, and has been celebrating its landmark anniversary. However, many local advocates for the region’s rail riders don’t see much reason to celebrate. Instead, we reflect on how the Port Authority has let riders down and resisted all reform efforts.

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Weekend Trains Return to the Gladstone Branch

After an absence of 2 years and 8 months, weekend train service returned to the Gladstone Branch on June 6. Trains run hourly as shuttles between Gladstone and Summit, connecting there with Morris & Essex Line trains between Dover and New York Penn Station. For Hoboken or Montclair passengers, there is a train connecting at Broad Street Station in Newark approximately every other hour. The schedule is similar to the one in effect until October 2018, when substitute bus operation began. Running time is 44 minutes eastbound and 54 minutes westbound, compared with 57 minutes eastbound and 62 minutes westbound for the bus operation.

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Report from the Chair—July/Aug. 2021

Our June meeting was unique—a throwback to prepandemic times, as we met in person for the first time since our hybrid meting in December 2020, itself an anomaly in our string of phone meetings since March of that year. Millburn was gracious enough to allow us to have that December meeting to honor Chairperson Emeritus David Peter Alan as he retired and I took over the chair; we had not been together as a group since then until last month’s meeting, held at the Panera Bread café in Montclair, just a quick walk over the bridge from the Bay Street Station. Though it is not on our heritage Morris & Essex line, it was convenient, with good WiFi for our “Maestro members”—those from South Jersey or Philadelphia, or who for whatever reason preferred not to meet in person—night driving, vaccination status, we did not ask. We hope to do even better with hybrid meetings moving forward—perhaps a few cell phones in the room, so that those at a distance can hear and be heard better. It is a work in progress, and we enjoyed being together in person while retaining the freedom to call in as desired. Watch for upcoming meeting announcements, and join us on Facebook and Twitter, for updates.

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EWR Monorail, Station to Close May 1 for 75 Days

Newark Liberty International Airport’s monorail system is showing its age, and it will shut down May 1 for a 75-day overhaul, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the transportation system, reported by Steve Strunsky in the Star-Ledger (April 9).  The monorail is the only way to get from NJ Transit’s airport station to the airport’s terminals, so train service will also be suspended during the repair period.  The repairs include fixes to the steel and epoxy running surface; the years of service have eroded 60 spots along the 6.3-mile system.  Buses from airport terminals to Newark Penn Station will replace the monorail.

Read the complete story here.

Quiet Cars Coming to Midday Hoboken Trains

In a move for which members of our organization have recently been calling, NJ Transit has announced the expansion of its Quiet Commute program outside of rush hours, according to a report from Mike Frassinelli.  The trial program will begin with midday trains to and from Hoboken Terminal on weekdays staring May 5.  The quiet car will be the same position in the train as the existing rush-hour Hoboken trains — that is, the first car of trains to Hoboken and the last car of trains departing from there.  NJT Executive Director Ronnie Hakim added that this program is a part of a new initiative called COR (“Civility, Order and Respect”). “This seemed like the right time to undertake a bit of a public education campaign — a reminder, really — to people that we want to have a very calm, civil, respectful environment in our transit system,” she said. “It’s going to cover the gamut.  Because I’ve been on the train when you hear young people using foul language, for an example, and it’s not pleasant and it’s not appropriate.” We at the Coalition look forward to seeing a reduction in loudness and rowdy behavior on trains, which has been far more common outside of peak hours. 

Read Mike Frassinelli’s article here.

A Hoboken Cure for the Midtown Woes

Does it seem like almost every other day that there is a delay on trains to New York?  Based on data from NJ Transit’s e-mail alerts, there have been delays, more often than every third day, reported to this rider, whose home station is Mount Tabor, on the M&E Line west of Morristown!  In the 92 days from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, I received 49 delay alerts on 33 different days.  The vast majority, 41 alerts on 27 days, affected Midtown Direct service.  I believe this is due to the sheer number of trains going through the two Midtown tunnels.  At least three times, the Midtown tunnels were so jammed that all Midtown trains on the M&E were redirected to Hoboken.

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