• Phillipsburg Rail Service—Four Years, $90 Million

  • Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.
Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

Moderators: Tadman, nick11a, Kaback9, ACeInTheHole

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  by finsuburbia
 
Mister Midtown wrote: Attempting to put as many people within walking distance of an NJT train station is not an efficient use of tax dollars. Projects that improve on the current system is the way to go. There are still many people that live or work near existing NJT rail service that do not use the service. Why not try to attract those people instead?
While I do agree that we need more electrification in the system, especially at the gaps (South of Long Branch, WORM, West of Dover) and that it would increase ridership with fewer transfers, I disagree with your dismissal of walkable train stations. It is in New Jersey's long term interest for NJ Transit to provide walkable transit where ever it is viable in order to promote transit oriented development rather than the sprawl that has been prevalent since the end of WWII. Sprawl has devoured our open space and has led to much of the congestion we see today. Transit service that requires car usage, i.e. park and rides, do little to counteract this. Its reliance on the car decreases its appeal tremendously. This quote from Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream by Duany et al., on page 138 illustrates my point.
The sole alternative to neighborhood-based transit is the park-and-ride, which could bring suburbanites into the city on transit, if it only worked. Unfortunately, park-and-ride is just another way of saying "intermodal shift"-switching from one form of transportation to another. This is a transit engineering bugaboo, since most commuters, once they've settled into the driver's seat, will tend to cruise all the way to their final destination. If transit is to work, its users must start as pedestrians.
Phillipsburg has several qualities that make it very appealing for train service. It is an older, pre-automotive town and has the higher densities that makes transit viable. Additionally, as mentioned earlier in the forum, it has historic connections to other towns along the corridor. Finally, it sets a the stage for a future connection to Allentown, thereby improving regional connectivity on both sides to the Delaware water gap.[/quote]

  by Politburo
 
Mister Midtown wrote:According to this thread, the combined weekday average ridership of Hackettstown plus Mount Olive is 163...
Interesting. If that thread is accurate, then those stations have already beat their projected ridership for 2025 (and that projection includes ARC).

  by Mister Midtown
 
The sole alternative to neighborhood-based transit is the park-and-ride, which could bring suburbanites into the city on transit, if it only worked. Unfortunately, park-and-ride is just another way of saying "intermodal shift"-switching from one form of transportation to another. This is a transit engineering bugaboo, since most commuters, once they've settled into the driver's seat, will tend to cruise all the way to their final destination. If transit is to work, its users must start as pedestrians.
I do not understand this at all. If park and rides do not work, then why is it so darn hard to get a parking spot at most NJT train stations? Clearly, the person that made this quote has never tried to park at Princeton Junction, Trenton, Middletown, NJ, or Harriman, to name just a few. And that is not including bus park-and-rides like the Route 23 (at Mothers) and Willowbrook. And I will not even touch the LIRR and Metro-North. Granted, most commuters can and do drive to their final destinations, but the shortage of station parking is testimony to the fact that it is not necessary for people to be able to walk to a train station in order for "transit to work," whatever that means.

Back on topic: The fact that NJT can pack trains, and parking lots for that matter, by so many passengers that use an automobile to get to their stations, is evidence of the feasibility of Phillipsburg passengers driving to Annandale to catch a train. If parking at Annandale is a problem we can add it to the list of stations that disprove the above quote. $90 million should be able to get more parking spots built.

Walkable train stations are fine. I love what has happened at South Orange and the "transit village" concept.

One man's sprawl is another's prosperity. I'll leave the sprawl issue untouched with the global warming issue.

  by Mister Midtown
 
Irish Chieftain wrote:Mr. Midtown: Imagine I-95 with no rail service parallel. This, by inference, is what you are calling for.
The only thing I called for was for Phillipsburg residents to drive to an existing train station to catch a train, like hundreds of thousands of other NJT riders do. I do not where you got the "calling for I-95 with no rail service" thing. I made comparisons that pointed out that rail service usually has a negligable effect on traffic levels on parallel highways.
Irish Chieftain wrote:...Further consider the past capacity of the Raritan Valley Line. Waste of tax dollars? I would call the deprecation of that corridor the waste thereof—down to two tracks on the formerly four-track segments and down to a single track on the formerly two-track segment...
Would you rather have seen NJT pay to maintain twice as many tracks than are needed for service? The RVL has lovely rail, a wonderful signal system (better than the Morristown Line, but that's another thread), a number of stations that have been renovated, and NJT is constantly replacing and maintaining the umpteen undergrade bridges and structures along the line. Best of all, the ROW is not getting any narrower. If more tracks are needed in the future, there will be space (generally).
Irish Chieftain wrote: Your solution would instead have us build more parallel road arteries, which would be tantamount to insanity at this point (I-78 is the sole major road route leading towards NYC out of the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers).
I do not recall advocating the building of more roads. I seem to recall advocating the driving of 17 or so miles from a location without rail service to NY to a location with rail service to NY. Or moving closer to a location that already has service.

  by nick11a
 
Good points Mr. MidTown- I too take credence that the RVL has a superior system, route and room to grow.

  by Irish Chieftain
 
Mr. Midtown wrote:The only thing I called for was for Phillipsburg residents to drive to an existing train station to catch a train, like hundreds of thousands of other NJT riders do. I do not where you got the "calling for I-95 with no rail service" thing. I made comparisons that pointed out that rail service usually has a negligible effect on traffic levels on parallel highways
That's still an apples/oranges comparison you presented. The NEC, as well as the many highways that run parallel to it (as opposed to a single major highway in the case of the RVL west of Annandale, and it's interesting that you picked that station) serve a huge megalopolis with many other highways branching off and feeding these highways parallel to the railroads. Driving to an existing RVL station means driving through a bottleneck (despite six lanes, you've got bumper-to-bumper travel on that highway stretching back into PA) to stations with limited train services and limited parking spaces. Therefore, to achieve what you have in mind, you would have to build additional highways for people to be able to drive to the extant RVL stations.

And if what happened on Valentine's Day of this month were to happen in NJ, there would be no way to move at all—a train merely going as far as High Bridge is of limited utility, but rail service active to Phillipsburg (and possibly further westward) would not be so affected by such storms and people would not be stuck in one spot for 24 hours.
Would you rather have seen NJT pay to maintain twice as many tracks than are needed for service?
Please define "needed" in this context. Roads do not expand or contract due to "need" or due to number of vehicles traveled on a particular roadway—if that were the case, then a lot of places would not have interstates running through them. Instead, they are set at a certain default width so that they can accommodate a flexible amount of traffic—and such should be the same with railroads, otherwise startup and cancellation of service becomes a tremendous cost burden (which begs the question as to why the service to/from Phillipsburg was eliminated in the first place—notwithstanding, $90 million total cost would be a bargain, when it includes station and parking facility construction—see next paragraph).

Interstate highways are not cheap—initial construction can vary between $10 million and $50 million per mile or higher, depending on number of lanes, topography and proximity to cities and towns. We have a lot of four-lane interstates going through sparsely populated areas, which is a tremendous waste of public money when they are built through areas where two-lane highways would suffice. Maintenance on roadways is also more frequently needed than on railroads. This corridor could indeed to with a boost of rail trips, as well as becoming a main line unto itself again (which is a separate matter at present—it has been a branch of the NEC since 1967, the wisdom thereof utterly lacking).
The RVL has lovely rail, a wonderful signal system (better than the Morristown Line, but that's another thread), a number of stations that have been renovated, and NJT is constantly replacing and maintaining the umpteen undergrade bridges and structures along the line
Sounds like an emotional argument. My purpose is to get people from A to B; and having the ROW feature as much capacity as possible for as many trains as possible is the best way to sell same. The maxim "Frequency Sells" is never invalid.
Best of all, the ROW is not getting any narrower. If more tracks are needed in the future, there will be space (generally)
"Generally" seems to spell it out. Note where the platforms in Westfield, Fanwood, Netherwood, Plainfield and Dunellen are located (i.e. in comparison to Cranford); and note that the new Crossways Place bridge is a two-track bridge.
I do not recall advocating the building of more roads. I seem to recall advocating the driving of 17 or so miles from a location without rail service to NY to a location with rail service to NY. Or moving closer to a location that already has service
I said you inferred same, not that you said it outright. For there to be sufficient roadway available to drive nineteen miles from Phillipsburg to Annandale, you will need additional highways, which can cost between $200 million and $1 billion to build depending on configuration. Or you can spend the $90 million and bring the train closer to them, which will mean a lot less wear and tear on those passengers' vehicles…

  by northjerseybuff
 
From the Hunterdon Review
Extension of rail line considered
Public meeting held on transportation improvements


By LINDA SADLOUSKOS Staff Writer
06/07/2007

CLINTON TWP. – There was a time when three railroads served Flemington, including freight lines and an express into Manhattan, according to Freeholder Director George Muller.

That time was the turn of the last century in 1900 when his grandfather moved to Hunterdon County, recalled Muller at last Tuesday’s North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) meeting to discuss possible steps for traffic relief and public transportation improvements in Hunterdon County and surrounding areas.

Muller, Hunterdon County’s liaison to the NJTPA, said that as far as he knows those rail lines are still in existence.

Now, one of the transit improvements being studied by the NJTPA and its consultants is the reopening of the rail line from High Bridge west into Phillipsburg, officials said at the May 29 public hearing at North Hunterdon High School.

Other recommendations on the table include better bus service and additional park-and-ride lots in Alpha and possibly Hampton. There are ideas to shuttle bus passengers from the west to major corporations along Route 22 or to the train station in Somerville.

Those options will be studied in detail in a phase II study report that will probably take about two years, said Lois Goldman, project manager for the NJTPA, last Tuesday. A draft final report on recommendations so far should be released by June 30, Goldman said.

But consultants and NJTPA officials said that actual improvements could be five to 10 years away.

Jeanne Boyer of Lebanon Township was one of the residents in the audience who said there should be no need to wait for years of feasibility studies before re-opening the rail tracks, which she said are still intact.

Boyer said she remembers flagging down the train in New Hampton and traveling into New York City. Rail service between High Bridge and Phillipsburg shut down in 1983, said Joe Dee, public spokesman for New Jersey Transit, later in the week.

Boyer’s daughter, Laramie, said that “trains are not subject to Route 78 traffic,” unlike buses, which are often caught up in congestion.

Another commuter in the audience suggested rail lines could be interconnected, so that riders could have easier access to job centers such as Morristown.

“I think people in this area want more train service,” Goldman acknowledged. Goldman said the question remains of whether New Jersey Transit would be open to the idea of running additional service through to Phillipsburg, either itself or through a private company. The NJTPA brings its recommendations to the New Jersey Department of Transportation (DOT) and other state transit departments, which would provide actual funding.

“There’s a public and environmental process we have to go through,” before re-opening a rail line, added Gary Davies, another project manager. “I am sure some people would oppose it and some of those tracks go through wetlands,” he said.

And Goldman said recommendations to locate additional park and ride lots in Alpha and possibly Hampton to intercept more traffic to the west of the overcrowded Clinton Point facility will be looked at again to see if they can be coordinated with rail service, if it is extended.

“What Route 78 needs is a multi-pronged approach,” said Hunterdon County Freeholder Matthew Holt, who said the officials were happy to host the NJTPA last week, but wished the state had arrived 10 years beforehand.

Holt and others at the meeting said truck traffic congestion could be especially relieved if freight cargo now being trucked between Newark and the Bethlehem, Pa. area could be transported via rail instead.

But, Holt cautioned the audience, “This situation did not occur overnight, and it’s not going to be corrected overnight.”

Holt, as former mayor of the Town of Clinton, has been carefully following improvements in progress at Exit 15 off Route 78 in Clinton, which also involve transportation in the region, although he said that project is considered separate from the transit improvements.

First Phase

The first phase of a long-term three-phase approach to those improvements, the realignment of the exit as it enters major thoroughfares entering Clinton and neighboring Franklin Township, was just completed about a week ago after years of study and step-by-step progress, Holt said. The realignment also shortens the traffic light cycle at the exit, allowing vehicles to more quickly get off the highway, where the stacking lane leading to Exit 15 has also been lengthened, he said.

A second phase involves the extension of a service road in Union Township to connect state facilities such as the Edna Mahon Correctional Facility for Women to exits off Route 78 further west of Clinton, Holt said. That project is now being discussed with Union Township officials and may be done in the next two years, he said.

A third project, still five to seven years off in the distance, would involve rebuilding ingress and egress off Route 15 eastbound into the Wal-Mart shopping plaza, Holt said. He said the state had promised initially the overall project would take 10 years.

As for traffic improvements along Route 78, Holt said, “You will not see instananeous relief.”

NJTPA spokespersons said that coordination would be necessary with multiple groups, including local corporations which may in some way have to make getting to their main entrances easier for employees dropped off by buses along Route 22.

NJTPA officials also hinted at future improvements somewhere in the vicinity of the Clinton Point park and ride, but said any such project would be coordinated with local officials, who had objected to a previous proposal for a much-expanded lot a few years ago.

“We are impacted by people from other states coming through our area looking to get to work,” Muller said. The cost is not only in increased traffic, but human lives, he said.

Muller said the plan is to also encourage an increase in van pooling, which he said is probably already occurring more than is realized.

Muller also said that local officials are happy with New Jersey Transit’s plans to improve rail service through eastern Hunterdon County by constructing a passing track in the vicinity of Whitehouse Station in Readington Township.

That passing track could be installed in the fall, said Dee of New Jersey Transit.

At some point afterwards, additional trains can be scheduled on the track west of the Raritan station heading to North Branch, Whitehouse, Lebanon, Annandale and High Bridge, said Dee.

“This will benefit that whole corridor,” by allowing trains to pull out the main track to allow another train to pass by, explained Dee.

  by NJTRailfan
 
FINALLY they are doing something, but it's not fast enough. The one person was correct that NJT and the state should've taken care of this ten years ago. The thinking shouldn't be "I think I know people want more rail service." The mindset should be, "WE KNOW PEOPLE WANT MORE RAIL SERVICE." It should be stuck in their heads so that people will finally understand that in the upper circle of government and NJT so that they can get this thing moving. We needed this 10-15 years ago, not in 2010 or 2012 when the state of NJ will lose a lot of highway funding. This should be preventive, not corrective measures for the state to finally do something.

  by Irish Chieftain
 
Re-read the article. It's merely rehashing what was said in the past.

  by nick11a
 
This is nothing new like Irish pointed out. To be frank, if the service west of High Bridge gets off the ground by 10 years from now, I will be shocked. I'd pretty much promise you it won't happen within 10 years. You may say "You're going to eat those words." I'd be more than happy to.

  by Irish Chieftain
 
So would I, with a side of buffalo-style crow wings. But, barring a fiscal miracle, Broke NJ is going with THE one-trick pony.

  by NJTRailfan
 
It would be more realistic if the service is extended by two or three stations at a time like the Mt Olive and Hackettstown Stations were with the M&E/Boonton Line. The could restart serivce as far west as Ludlow Asbury and restore service further west later on when more money is available.

  by geoffand
 
NJTRailfan wrote:It would be more realistic if the service is extended by two or three stations at a time like the Mt Olive and Hackettstown Stations were with the M&E/Boonton Line. The could restart serivce as far west as Ludlow Asbury and restore service further west later on when more money is available.
And replace the "Trains to ___________" sign at every station along the line with each mini-expansion.

Cost of service expansion: $23M
Cost of new signage: $1M
Cost of multiple studies for each baby-step service expansion: priceless

  by northjerseybuff
 
I don't get NJT..I like the babysteps idea myself..why not contact freeholders/mayors and give them that idea. Seems like if the county wants it, NJT has to commit the service.
How was the HBLR built so quickly? in each stage..wasnt there a formula..design..build..something along those lines?
I think NJT should use this slogan.."if you build it, they will come" everyone in their right mind knows this will serve people..the question is how many? well..i say do it, and fill in the numbers later..someone will ride and when gas prices in 5-10 years reach who knows what price they will hit, people will demand the service.
My question is..why is NJT not proactive and getting the service going and having people build around the train stations..seems to me the philosophy is let them all move out to western nj and the service will come someday..nice planning department!

  by NJTRailfan
 
geoffand, I'd rather have the baby steps/miny expansion then 2020 to come and go and still have RVL trains go no further then High Bridge. That would be a damn shame. Atleast with my idea by the time 2020 comes atleast you'll have service go further then High Bridge like Asbury/Ludlow. Even that would be a huge improvement. Think of all the other stuff thy could do just by expanding that far like addition of another passing siding or even double tracking. Maybe even electrification along most of the RVL like you do currently with the M&E.
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