Once upon a time, trolley lines built amusement parks at the end of their lines to encourage ridership. The modern-day equivalent may be the “Transit Village”: development at transit hubs, where transit users can live, work, or shop just steps from their train or bus. A report due out on September 24 by New Jersey Future assesses development opportunities at New Jersey transit hubs, according to reporting by Mike Frassinelli in the Star-Ledger (September 22).
Recently, NJ Transportation Commissioner Jim Simpson attended a ceremony to name an old railroad town (Dunellen in Middlesex County, on NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line) the state’s 26th Transit Village, a community built around a transit hub. The forthcoming report from New Jersey Future has been 3-1/2 years in progress under the group’s research director, Tim Evans. Some interesting statistics dot the report:
- the highest population densities in the state can be found in Hoboken near Hoboken Terminal and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail;
- several Newark Light Rail stations are in areas where less than 1/3 of households have a vehicle;
- stations with the highest home values include Millburn, Summit, and Peapack on the Morris & Essex Lines; and, unbelievably to some motorists,
- there are NJT Rail stations where less than 1/3 of parking spaces are typically occupied (Point Pleasant Beach on the North Jersey Coast; Cinnaminson and Florence on the River Line Light Rail).
An example of a burgeoning Transit Village is Morristown on the M&E, with the newly-constructed Highlands at Morristown Station apartment building development.
Rail service cuts were not as severe as feared. Although we reported apprehension about expected severe cuts in the January-February issue of the Railgram, the actual service reductions were modest, averaging a train or two on most lines. The most hard-hit will be the Atlantic City Rail Line, which will lose one of its busiest trains. One train on the Montclair-Boonton Line will be eliminated, including the first inbound train in the morning. The M&E Line will lose one train in each direction, while a midday train will be suspended temporarily west of Summit to allow installation of an improved signaling system between Summit and Morristown. The Lackawanna Coalition has asked for the signal improvements in the area for several years and compliments NJT on their decision to install the upgrade.