on Tue Jan 14 10:46:45 2020
Murphy signs law requiring NJ Transit to study Raritan Valley 'one-seat ride' to Penn
To get direct one-seat service on the RVL, one NJ Transit line would have to sacrifice its slot as only 23 trains can travel through the rail tunnels connecting NY and NJ per hour.
Colleen Wilson, NorthJersey.comThe Raritan Valley Line's "one-seat ride" into Penn Station New York will be studied by NJ Transit and a report must be issued in July, according to legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday.
Published 9:57 a.m. ET Jan. 14, 2020
Bill No. S3574, which passed both houses of the state Legislature in December, requires the agency to study several items, including:
For years, the riders' Raritan Valley Line Coalition has advocated for direct service between New Jersey and New York.
- Why the Raritan Valley Line's direct service to Penn Station was suspended;
- Historical and expected ridership on the line;
- Actions required to provide full-time, direct service to Penn Station;
- How long those actions would take;
- Estimated cost to provide the service;
- Factors that could delay or increase the cost of adding the service.
RVL customers got a partial victory in 2014 when a one-seat ride was made available during off-peak hours. But this was suspended in September 2018, along with several other trains in other lines, while NJ Transit devoted resources to installing the complex, federally-mandated braking system, positive train control.
In November, the agency restored the Raritan Valley Line's off-peak direct service.
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During peak commuting hours in the morning and afternoon, customers have to switch trains at Newark Penn Station, an issue that can be "physically taxing," according to Bruce Bergen, because riders often have to run up and down stairs to other platforms to make their connection.
"This bill is an important step in finding out what needs to be done, what adjustments have to be made to get the one-seat ride for the Raritan Valley Line. It’s not the end all be all, but it’s a very important first step," said Bergen, president of the Raritan Valley Coalition. "Make it equitable, make it fair, make adjustments so that Raritan Valley has what the others have."
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement that because of the Raritan Valley's strong ridership numbers, it's "perplexing" why full service has not been brought back.
“Conducting a feasibility study will provide valuable analysis and projections of costs to restore service, as well as provide NJ Transit with the steps they can take to see this come to fruition. Our region needs this,” Scutari said.
The Raritan Valley Line serves more than 23,000 daily commuters in a corridor where 1 million people live, about the same number of commuters as the North Jersey Coast Line, which has 11 trains in the morning and 13 trains in the afternoon with direct access to Manhattan. The NJCL also services Newark Airport.
To accommodate direct service to and from New York on the line during rush hours, another NJ Transit train line would have to sacrifice its slot, as only 23 trains can travel through the rail tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey per hour.
"We look forward to undertaking this important study giving us the opportunity to identify and maximize our resources to safely move as many customers as we can within the constraints of our existing system," Nancy Snyder, a NJ Transit spokeswoman, said in a statement.