Lackawanna Coalition Celebrates 45 Years of Service to Area Riders


On Tuesday, April 9, the Lackawanna Coalition celebrated the 45th anniversary of its founding in 1979. The organization was established in 1979, when transit in New Jersey was in crisis. Local rail service was provided by Conrail, with help from the Commuter Operating Agency, a subagency of the New Jersey
Department of Transportation. The railroad needed repair; the equipment was old and much of it was in poor shape. The bus side also had problems, as Public Service wanted to get out of the bus business. New Jersey Transit was founded later in the year to buy out the bus company; NJ Transit Rail Operations, Inc. was not founded until 1983.
The Coalition was started by commuters in Millburn, on the Morris & Essex Line (M&E). As were other organizations composed of rail riders at the Jersey Shore and elsewhere, the Millburn Commuters’ Coalition was formed to protest the condition and unreliability on their railroad and to call for action to improve service.
As the founders recruited members elsewhere on the line, they changed the organization’s name to the Lackawanna Coalition to honor the Lackawanna, the line’s heritage railroad. At the beginning, the Coalition met on the second Monday of the month, the first meeting being April 9, 1979.
The Coalition eventually expanded its geographic purview to include today’s Montclair-Boonton Line. Today it includes all transit that connects with our core lines of concern: the Morris & Essex, Montclair, and Gladstone lines. Essentially, that includes NJ Transit trains in North and Central Jersey and connecting for New York City, along with such other modes as buses, light rail, and PATH.
Through the years, the Coalition achieved a reputation for “knowing the railroad” and fighting for service enhancements as well as for projects to improved service. These projects include the Montclair Connection, which opened in 2002, and Midtown Direct service from the M&E and Montclair lines to New York Penn
Station, which began in June 1996.
The Lackawanna Coalition continues to meet in the same conference room in Millburn Town Hall in which it was founded. It still has its unique combination of “individual” members and “community” members, the latter comprising towns along its primary lines of concern. We also continue to feature presentations about the railroad and related topics at the start of each of our meetings, which
for decades have been held on the fourth Monday of the month, as
they still are.
The tradition of strong and knowledgeable advocacy continues at the Lackawanna Coalition, as we invite you to join us in helping improve our rail service and connecting transit, as we celebrate 45 years of service to the riding community.

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