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.

Daniel has told us that almost every Friday when he boards the Pascack Valley train, conductors advise at least a few passengers that they are on the wrong train—that they should have waited for the following Track-H train, and hence must choose between getting off at the first stop, Wood-Ridge, to return to Secaucus Junction (and a 2-hour wait until the next train) or staying on to Spring Valley and finding a bus or taxi solution to get to their destination.

Neither option is appealing, and we thought that New Jersey Transit could do better.  Coalition members and other rail advocates explored options in an e-mail group.  Checking tickets before boarding is impractical, and though there is sometimes an announcement that “this is not the Middletown train” made before door closing and departure, it is not consistent.

What else might work?  We considered various announcement patterns, but dismissed them as impractical—they would interfere with automatic announcements.  Upon further reflection, we thought we had the answer: let the Bergen train use Track G, across the platform, leaving the Pascack Valley train alone on Track H.  Our valued colleague Randy Glucksman, the MTA board’s official rider representative from Rockland County, took up the cause with NJ Transit management—and as this issue goes to press, the change has been made, the track switched, and Daniel reports that he saw no confused riders having to work out a new route to their destination.  Thanks to Randy—and to NJ Transit personnel for being willing to make a simple change for riders’ convenience.

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