Three members of the Ampere Alliance appeared at the Lackawanna Coalition meeting on February 27 and described their efforts to persuade New Jersey Transit to restore service at the Ampere Station, for the first time after it was discontinued almost 32 years ago.Continue Reading Residents of the Ampere Neighborhood Want Their Station Back
Report from the Chair: Jan./Feb. 2023
A new year starts this month: my 3rd as Lackawanna Coalition chairperson, and NJ Transit Rail’s 41st. The Coalition has a new Web site, the forum is back in operation, and we are looking forward to being the advocate host of the Rail Users’ Network’s in-person conference in the spring. Our resolution supporting the expansion of weekend service on the Montclair-Boonton line caught the attention of Board Member James Adams, who asked Kevin Corbett to look into the possibilities and interest of local communities. We continue to look for more transparency from NJ Transit, something for which we have advocated for years, if not decades.
The lack of a so-called Customer Advocate has become almost absurd; every meeting, there are at least a few members of the public asking about it, yet no progress—possibly because they have written a job description impossible to fill. How about just expanding telephone support hours? 6 a.m. to midnight would be great; we’d settle for a 10 p.m. closing, instead of the current 5 p.m.—actually earlier, as I have had the switchboard shut off at 4:50 when I was holding. Wouldn’t you expect that operators would answer the questions of those on hold before leaving? We all like to leave our office on time, but providing the best customer service means giving just a little extra. However, that should only rarely be a consideration: one would expect that shift schedules would allow workers to answer all waiting calls and still clock out on time.
Coalition Calls for Hourly Weekend Service for Montclair and Hoboken
At its November meeting, the Lackawanna Coalition passed a resolution calling on NJ Transit to start running hourly service between Montclair and Hoboken on Saturdays and Sundays, no later than the beginning of the next fiscal year this coming July 1.
The principal “Resolved” clause says: “the Lackawanna Coalition calls for New Jersey Transit to implement hourly weekend passenger-rail service between Hoboken and Montclair State University stations, scheduled for connections with Morris & Essex Line trains at Broad Street Station in Newark, as the trains that run on the current schedule are scheduled for such connections. . .”Continue Reading Coalition Calls for Hourly Weekend Service for Montclair and Hoboken
NJ Transit Rail Celebrates 40th Anniversary
It has now been slightly more than 40 years since NJ Transit started running its trains under its own flag. While the different lines were originally operated by historical railroads, such as the Morris & Essex (M&E), Gladstone, and Montclair lines by the Lackawanna Railroad until 1960, the statewide system was run by the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail), with help from the Commuter Operating Agency (COA) at the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
According to Coalition member Jim Blaze, who worked as a manager for Conrail at the time, Congress mandated in 1981 that Conrail had to give up its local passenger operations by the end of 1982. In a hurry, and just in time for New Years’ Day1983, 3 regional railroads were born: Metro-North in New York State, NJ Transit Rail, and SEPTA Regional Rail in the Philadelphia area.Continue Reading NJ Transit Rail Celebrates 40th Anniversary
A Train Trip to Hike Mills Reservation
Falling Tree Pulls Wire Down—
No Service on M&E Lines for Seven Days
Service was suspended on most of the Morris & Essex (M&E) Line, along with the Gladstone Branch, for an entire week, beginning on Monday evening, March 7. A strong storm blew a large tree onto the elevated M&E right-of-way near Jefferson Avenue in Maplewood, between the Maplewood and South Orange stations. It pulled down the overhead wires (“catenary”) that power the trains running on the line and damaged the wires’ supporting structure. On Tuesday, nothing ran anywhere on either the M&E or the Gladstone Branch. By Wednesday, hourly service (different from and slower than normal) had been established between South Orange and New York Penn Station. However, there was no service at all—not even limited diesel service—past South Orange.
Continue Reading Falling Tree Pulls Wire Down—
No Service on M&E Lines for Seven Days
M&E, Montclair Restored after Storm
Morris & Essex and Montclair-Boonton lines are scheduled to restore service at noon, Saturday, Feb. 9; service had been suspended at 8 p.m. on Friday during the snowstorm. NJT attributed this action to the vulnerability of those lines to tree damage, citing the experience of Superstorm Sandy in October (which has resulted in continuing reduction of service on those lines). It had originally been announced that service would remain suspended through Saturday.
NJT’s action appears to conflict with weather forecasts that, at the time of the announcement, were actually becoming less severe; once the storm began to abate on Saturday morning, total snowfall reports did not exceed 12″ in the M&E territory, although wind gusts remained a threat on Saturday, especially with tree limbs already weighted with snow. In general, however, the experience in the M&E territory was no more severe than elsewhere on the NJT system, which remained in operation. Bus services north of Interstate 195 (that is, all of north Jersey) were also suspended at 8 p.m. on Friday, and restored at 8 a.m. on Saturday.
The short suspension may be attributed to an overabundance of caution, but the selection of the M&E and Boonton lines for suspension suggests that NJT may not have enough equipment to keep all lines running during an emergency. Weather forecasts were equally severe or even worse for other lines, which were not suspended. The NJT press release announcing the suspension noted a lack of “system redundancies”, which supports the notion that the system is stretched thin after Hurricane Sandy, and that the suspension of the M&E and Boonton lines was a question of priority-setting rather than prompted by unusual risk to those lines.