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.

Continue Reading Weekend Trains Return to the Gladstone Branch

Weekend PATH World Trade Service to Be Suspended

Weekend service on the PATH transit system to World Trade Center and Exchange Place, Jersey City, will be suspended entirely for most weekends in 2014, starting February 14.  The suspensions will begin around midnight Friday night; service will resume at approximately 4:45 a.m. on Mondays.  Additional trains will run on the 33rd St.—Journal Square (via Hoboken) route; Newark service will operate only as far as Journal Square. Exceptions to the suspension may be made on major holiday weekends.  The service suspension, PATH says, is necessary for work on the signal system, and security enhancement, and for post-Sandy flood resilience improvements.

More information can be found at:


Princeton Dinky Getting Dinkier

The Princeton Branch (otherwise known as the “Dinky”) will soon become Dinkier.  New Jersey Transit will begin to remove the tracks and the overhead wire that powers the trains on the portion of the line closest to downtown Princeton.  This marks a defeat for the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers (NJ-ARP), which had sought to prevent the removal of that section of the line.  NJ-ARP had joined with others in filing a petition with the Surface Transportation Board and an appeal from NJT’s decision to consummate a land deal with Priceton University that would allow the removal of the affected portion of the line.  A court hearing is set for October 13th, and the STB has not yet answered the petition.  By the time these events occur, the planned removal of the portion of the line at issue will have been completed.

The Lackawanna Coalition has commended NJ-ARP for its strong advocacy on this issue, and is concerned that NJT has begun to remove infrastructure at issue before legal processes have been completed.

LATEST: Near-Full Service March 24

New timetables effective March 24 for all NJ Transit heavy-rail services restored most service that was still reduced after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.  Some trains are still missing, notably 3 daily round trips between Bay Head and Hoboken on the North Jersey Coast Line and some runs to Waldwick on the Main/Bergen lines.  On the Morris & Essex Lines, a number of Gladstone and Dover trains to and from Hoboken have not resumed.  (Schedules were reissued on June 2; some changes may have been made, but we have not yet analyzed the new schedules.)  Weekend service on all lines is back to normal, with the exception of an early-morning round trip between Dover and Hoboken on the M&E.

The resumption of service was made possible by restoration of electric traction power into the Hoboken terminal; damage to a substation had restricted Hoboken to diesel-powered trains since the storm.  Most customers will find their pre-Sandy service restored, although there are notable exceptions because of the still-missing trains.  North Jersey Coast Line riders from beyond Long Branch will continue to find fewer trains and longer gaps.  On the M&E, the lack of an early-morning weekend train from Hoboken will affect commuters to jobs from the New York area; and there remain unacceptable gaps in service on the Gladstone Branch, including no outbound trains (beyond Murray Hill) between 2:40 and 4:27 p.m. on weekdays.  Returning, the 8:50 p.m. departure from Gladstone for Hoboken is also missing; since the preceding train does not take passengers at Gladstone, there is an astounding gap at Gladstone station (only) of nearly 5 hours, roughly from 5 to 10 p.m.

PATH resumed full normal service on March 1; this restores service to World Trade Center and Exchange Place on weekends.  Since all lines were operating on weekdays, full service has been restored.

NYC Transit resumed through train service to the Rockaways (A Train) on May 30, after an absence of 7 months since Hurricane Sandy.  However, they also announced a plan for an extensive closing of the Montague Street Tunnel (R Train) to complete repairs and strengthen defenses against future flooding.

NJ Transit reopened the Hoboken terminal building late on Monday, January 28.  The building had been closed for some time after contamination due to the Hurricane Sandy flooding was discovered.  Karen Rouse of The Record of Bergen County reported on Friday evening (Jan. 25) that Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) pressured NJT to provide temporary shelter, toilets, and running water for customers within 3 business days, or he would call a legislative hearing.  The report was formerly to be found at http://www.northjersey.com/news/NJ_Transit_to_reopen_Hoboken_Terminal_on_Tuesday.htmlNJT announced Tuesday’s re-opening at 5:34 on Friday afternoon, according to Rouse.

The waiting room bears little resemblance to the pre-Sandy facilities, as much of the room is still walled off, the rest rooms are closed, and a limited amount of plastic seating is provided. For restrooms, use the train parked on Track 8 for that purpose, which is also warm and comfortable.

Dual-Power Locomotives Run into Penn Station

New Jersey Transit’s ALP-45DP dual-power locomotives ran into Penn Station for the first time last weekend.  Because of maintenance on the wires that supply electric power to trains on the Morris & Essex (M&E) Line, the power was turned off between Maplewood and Morris Plains on Saturday and for some of the service day on Sunday.
Although Amtrak has expressed concern about allowing the units into Penn Station, the weekend service seemed to go smoothly, although with some delays.  The locomotives, made by Bombardier, cost approximately $7.9 million each; roughly 3 times the cost of a conventional diesel unit.  The use of these units to bring revenue trains into Penn Station could reopen the push by the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition and other advocates for a one-seat ride to New York City on nonelectrified lines such as the Raritan Valley Line or the southern part of the North Jersey Coast Line.

Are the Trains We Had before Hurricane Sandy Coming Back Next Month?

New Jersey Transit says that rail service to and from Penn Station runs as frequently as it did before Superstorm Sandy struck, but Hoboken service has not returned to that level.  NJT Executive Director James W. Weinstein said that he expects the prestorm level of service to return to Hoboken with the next timetable change, which is slated for the end of March.  The Lackawanna Coalition has expressed its concern that Hoboken riders, especially on the Gladstone Line, are not receiving the transit they deserve.  We will continue to monitor the situation.

Gladstone Service Coming Back, but at a Reduced Level

Morris County Service Also Cut

The Lackawanna Coalition has obtained a draft schedule for the Morris & Essex Line and Gladstone Branch, which is slated to take effect on Monday, December 3rd.  The good news is that Gladstone Branch service will return for the first time since Superstorm Sandy disrupted service late in October.  The bad news is that service will be reduced from previous levels, particularly midday service, which will run only every 2 hours.  Previous off-peak service ran hourly.
In addition, early-morning trains west of Summit toward Dover and Hackettstown will be eliminated.  The first morning train west of Summit is scheduled to arrive in Morristown until 8:14 and Dover until 8:35.
These are weekday schedules; if there are any changes in weekend service, they have not been announced yet.  The Lackawanna Coalition hopes this schedule will be temporary and that the M&E and Gladstone Lines will have their former levels of service restored soon.

NJT Cuts Bus Service; Coalition Objects

New Jersey Transit eliminated 4 bus lines running in Newark and Bloomfield, while cutting service on other lines in the area.  The cuts will take effect on September 1st.  The agency decided to save one of the routes slated for elimination; the #78, which provides service between Penn Station and Broad Street Station in Newark and Secaucus, primarily during peak commuting hours.  At the same time, service on two other lines will be enhanced.
The Coalition objected to the manner in which notice of the cuts was given, because the official notice mentioned “optimization” of bus services, with mention of line eliminations relegated to the bottom of the document.  The Coalition also objected to service cuts at a time when NJT is spending hundreds of millions of dollars for high-priced dual-mode locomotives, as well as 100 multilevel railcars that will not be needed to operate planned levels of rail service.

NJT Announces New Bicycle Policy

Cyclists Win Some and Lose Some; Public Not Consulted

New Jersey Transit implemented new policies regarding bringing bicycles onto trains on July 1st.  The victory for bike riders was that bikes can now be brought onto trains at all stations, not only stations with high-level platforms.
The loss for bike riders is that cyclists from New Jersey have few options if they wish to take their bikes into or toward New York City on a weekend day.  Cyclists from the Garden State cannot bring their bikes onto trains scheduled to arrive in New York, Newark, or Hoboken between 9 a.m. and 12 noon, or leaving those places between 5 and 8 p.m.  Cyclists on the Morris & Essex Line cannot take a train to New York later than #6912, which leaves Dover at 7:05 a.m.  Returning, they must be on the 4:11 p.m. train from Penn Station, or they cannot leave the City until 8:11.  There are no comparable restrictions on cyclists bringing their bikes from New York on trains that allow them to ride in New Jersey for the day.
The new policies were implemented by the NJT Board on recommendation of the North and South Jersey Transportation Advisory Committees, which do not allow members of the public to attend their meetings.  There were also no hearings conducted concerning the new weekend restrictions.
The Coalition has objected to the new weekend restrictions on grounds of their severity and the lack of public input before they were approved and implemented.  Coalition Secretary Gary Kazin, an avid cyclist, characterized the weekend policy as “insane”.

New Bike Policy: NJT Gives Back, Takes Away

Several months ago, NJ Transit modified its bicycle-on-board-trains policy to prohibit use of bicycles at stations that do not have high-level platforms; this ended bike use at many popular stations that lack high-level platforms, including the Hoboken Terminal.  An outcry from bicyclists ensued; now NJT has updated their policy).  However, the new policy, available as a press release on the NJT website and effective July 1, adds serious restrictions on weekends to the use of bicycles, as it simultaneously allows (once again) bike use at low-level-platform stations.  New Jersey cyclists, eyeing the massive program in New York City that makes city streets more accessible to bicycles, have been using NJT to reach Manhattan to explore the city, most often on weekends when city streets are less crowded with motor traffic.  Under the new policy, this will be much more diffficult, as NJT has now banned bikes from weekend trains arriving in Manhattan from 9 a.m. to noon, and leaving between 5 and 8 p.m.  New York cyclists who use NJT to reach the attractive cycling paths and roads of New Jersey (and who formed a main part of the opposition to NJT’s high-level-platform-only rule change) will be much less affected.  Overall, the result of the multiple rules changes will be to leave New York cyclists pretty much unaffected, while seriously restricting the use of the trains by New Jersey bicyclists.

The Lackawanna Coalition believes that all modes of transportation need to work smoothly together to ensure an effective transportation network.