• NCS to Broad Street Station ("Newark Light Rail")

  • 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

  • 459 posts
  • 1
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 31
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
A side note to Mr. Vondrak we meant to post earlier this week: East Orange, sir? NJ-ARP is not idle on this matter, nor are others. No promises of anything speedy, but your wish may just come true eventually. We'll try to keep you posted.

  by oknazevad
 
I've got nothing against street running. Just seems to me that'd it be a heck of a lot more expensive to build new from scratch than it'd be to route the DMUs onto the Main Line from the existing connection.

Also, the Paterson to Nutley to Newark corridor, which I've been through numerous times, seems the type of corridor that is very endpoint oriented. Namely, most riders would likely be going toward one of the endpoints, then returning home. It doesn't go to Clifton Commons, for example. I just don'tforsee a lot of people using it to get to nutley, unless they're on their way home.

  by ntrainride
 
All in all, what the "Newark Metropolitan Area" really needs is the continuing and deepening revitalization of Newark City. Newark has all the makings of a renewable popular urban place in the making, or reborning. The process is well along. An extension of the Newark/Penn to Newark/Broad line would really help. Looking say, twenty years down the road, there most definitely should be a line connecting Elizabeth, Newark and points north of the city, something similar in length to the HBLRT.

Hell, it could even have a ferry link or two, such as down near Jersey Gardens. Teh railfan in me would also like to see the line go further south, into Carteret, Sewaren, Boynton Beach, Barber and Perth Amboy. Yep, do that corridor again, remake the old CRRNJ branch, ala The River Line scenario using existing trackage or r.o.w. for new passenger service. I mean, talk about your close by underused infrastructure...

That area of N.J., close to the southwestern S.I. shore, is sort of invisible to the metro area. To offer new rail connection to Newark would make the area a virtual new suburb of the rising city. What the hell, right? Plan for the future.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
OK, at this juncture we think we have a handle on the plan that oknazevad is advancing with due fervor. We wish him well.

Conditions permitting, we'll pursue a different agenda (not necessarily a different mode, mind you), probably more in keeping with what ntrainride offers. We just don't believe in advancing "commuter rail" for New Jersey's 21st century needs, because while "commuter-only rail" may capture the "most" riders, it doesn't offer the most opportunity for the larger pool of potential riders.

We've been through this with the River Line, when "commuter rail" was envisioned by way too many people solely to serve center-city Philadelphia. We at NJ-ARP thought more broadly and -- to their great credit -- Burlington County officials saw even more broadly than we did. The result: We have two-way traffic, all-day traffic, lots of intermediate-point traffic ... and a raft of "gee, we shoulda" recommendations from Monday-morning quarterbacks now acting as if the River Line was too limited in scope. (And perhaps it was, but not as limited as its critical "friends" have been.)

So that means we're not going to assume local traffic isn't there. When one makes that assumption, one doesn't plan for it, and one doesn't serve local transport needs. And, voila! Sure enough, the local rail ridership fails to materialize. Writing off Nutley as a traffic generator just isn't our style. Riverside, Delanco, and Riverton suggest a different potential reality.

For that matter, with all the concern of tying into Paterson physically, why can't we expand our vision to handle potential transfer ridership there? It's plausible that someone in Ramsey might wish access to North Newark, via Paterson. Heck, they might wish to get to Nutley. (Or--here's that thought again--travel in the other direction.)

  by RVRR 15
 
It's plausible that someone in Ramsey might wish access to North Newark, via Paterson
North Newark? Not highly likely. However, reactivating the ex-Erie Newark Branch as DMU/commuter rail between Hoboken and Paterson does invite the possibility for one-seat ride operation in that vein (as it certainly reawakens the possibility of one-seat travel between Newark and Port Jervis, for example).

The FRA rules are what they are; and overseas, similar rules are being instituted. NJT has already greatly overspent on FRA-noncompliant light rail, so it raises questions as to what they would do if they ended up experimenting with "tram-train" configurations. The more NJT does this, the more they hurt NJ-ARP, who ought to be lobbying to keep costs down (light rail is supposed to be cheaper than "heavy", not more expensive, especially when built upon traditional general railway network corridors, remember) among their myriad efforts.

  by ryanov
 
Believe it or not, I lived in North Newark just two years ago and was dating someone in Ramsey and traveled between the two regularly. What I generally did was drive to Lyndhurst, but that is not desirable really. I would have welcomed the option.

  by oknazevad
 
RVRR 15 hits on the idea here, imo.

NJTRO is a commuter/regional rail operator, and, for the most part, a successful one. That's a strength the state should be playing up. And expanding. The state already has a rather extensive commuter rail system, but it has gaps.

However, there are tons of un- and underused ROWs around the state. Actually, I can literally say I've tripped over some of them. Actually kinda embarrassing.

But it means that there's a great deal of potential for regional rail services with ridership potential. Some of these ROWs are unneeded, as they pass through rural areas.

Some of these routings may be best served by light rail, namely in areas where closer station spacing (as informed by population density and potential for continuous boarding and alighting) is preferable.

Others are best served by heavy commuter rail. I tend to think that longer routes are best served by these, but that's just an opinion based on personal comfort and observations of capacity. Plus, because there are regular trains, they (at least diesels) can run on any ordinary trackage without need of wavers, time-splits or heavy building of all-new infrastructure.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
Far be it for NJ-ARP to not seek cost-effective operations of any kind, but we're not the ones to shoulder such a burden alone; it's up to everyone who lives in, or even just pays taxes to, the state of New Jersey.

Beyond that, we're not clear on how we're "hurt" by NJT's actions (or FRA's, per se), so we'll welcome clarification on that.

In our view, it's dangerous to assert that light rail transit must always be "cheaper" than traditional rail, though we find it often is so. Price is important, but utility also matters, and if we believe LRT is a better fit for (let's say) the Northern Branch even if it were more expensive than DMUs would be for the route, we're not ashamed to say so. The purpose and the function also matter.

That said, what kind of "cost" are we talking about? When it comes to operational costs, we think LRT in general -- even in New Jersey -- certainly has an edge or two over "traditional" or "regional" (or even, sigh and heaven help us, "commuter") rail. Again, that doesn't mean we'll start trashing "high cost" passenger rail projects (such as MOM or the Cut-Off) if that particular rail mode is the better fit. (We find the supposed "LRT" proposals for MOM to be, in a word, woeful, just to be clear on the matter.)

  by oknazevad
 
Still don't get the objection to the use of the term "commuter rail." While it sounds limited in scope, it is widely recognized, and does reflect the reality that most riders on the lines are commuting to or from work. (Just not necessarily at the center of the Metro area.)

LRT on MOM is recoculous. I've gotta agree.

In all honesty, I dislike LRT on the Northern Branch, if only because all proposals floated thus far terminate no farther north than Tenafly. I don't know why that is. That strikes me as only half the game. I wonder if its because constructing LRT that far north would be prohibitively expensive due to the need for an additional substation. Anybody have any insight on that?

I've also seen it mentioned that it's because the towns north of there don't have the population to support it. While it's true they are not as densely populated as Englewood, the towns along the NB north of Tenafly (Cresskill, Demarest, Closter, Norwood and Northvale) are very similar in size, density and income to the towns along the PVL north of Hackensack. I believe they should have full service, at least comparable to the PVL. (Which also has a certain historical vibe to it, as well.) And the Mayor of Northvale's gone on the record saying that he wants service there, too.

For it to really work as a separate service, a connection to Hoboken would need to be built, but that seems a good investment to me. (Aside: I'd love to see them use the Arches, or Long Dock Tunnel, but understand a flyover at Croxton is probably what'd we'd wind up with.) Not only could the NB use it, but so could the Cross-County line on the Suzie-Q Bob Pascarelli has been pushing. And, if by some miracle they ever get CSX to agree, so could the West Shore. The multipurpose use of these infrastructure bits seems to me to be an efficient, and utilitarian outlay of funds.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
"Commuter rail" is jargon, pure and simple. It's true that most people use it without thinking -- and that's a big part of the problem. It "sounds" limiting and, therefore, by logical extension, it does limit people's thinking about passenger rail's capabilities. We at NJ-ARP see it all the time, not just from railfans but from experts. [Full disclosure: The writer himself wrestles with this for the publication he works with, inexpertly and with only limited success.]

How often is the New Jersey Turnpike called a "commuter highway" by the media? Why not? But the Northeast Corridor--the Corridor, for heaven's sake--is tagged a "commuter line" all the time. Why is that? Why must that be so?

Beyond that, we'll reiterate our substituting "those people" (or "that service") for "commuters" and/or "commuter line." Think Assemblywoman Charlotte Vandervalk was using "commuters" in a neutral sense when she opposed expanded Pascack Valley Line service? She most certainly was NOT--she was using code, acceptable (apparently) even to many in the rail community, who perhaps want to stand out and be different. Ms. Vandervalk agrees, though maybe not in as complimentary a fashion as the rail community would like.

So it goes, too, for the oft-postponed Northern Branch, and here (with a bit less rancor, we hope) we can debate "halfway" measures. From the perspective of LRT advocates in Tenafly, they've already had to suffer the "halfway" designation, from outside, as Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit first completed the "Hudson" portion, leaving Bergen for later.

From a different perspective, asking for NJ-ARP (and others) to push for a terminus north of Tenafly during the late 1980s would be (and was) dismissed as incredible fantasy. "Galloping me-tooism" is indeed welcome in the 2000s, now that Tenafly seems within reach. But Bayonne to Northvale in 1990? We had trouble locking in Bayonne to North Bergen.

NJ-ARP is very aware of, and grateful for, Northvale Mayor John Rooney's efforts to extend the envelope (for HBLRT, as it happens). We'll support him as best we can. But this is a game of ground acquisition, and no matter what anyone's overall scope for this area is (or even what mode is chosen), we have to get to Tenafly first. We hope to put in a quality product -- and, we reiterate, one not limited to the needs of "commuters" alone.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
On another note, we'd respectfully inquire why an additional LRT substation might be considered "prohibitively expensive," while flyovers for (DMU?) service to Hoboken and/or vicinity would seem to be a good investment.

Just to be clear, we respect the latter option (first voiced here, we believe, by Irish Chieftain). We'd even consider it as a fallback position depending on how reality and real politics play out. But for now, NJ-ARP's goal isn't just Hoboken; it's the Gold Coast as a package, with (multiple) New York access points thrown in, and that for us means (HB)LRT.

  by RVRR 15
 
On another note, we'd respectfully inquire why an additional LRT substation might be considered "prohibitively expensive," while flyovers for (DMU?) service to Hoboken and/or vicinity would seem to be a good investment
One additional substation? Unless I am mistaken (correction welcome), 750-volts DC overhead wires require a substation every two miles, and there are fifteen miles (approximately) separating the Tonnelle Avenue station from the former Northern Railroad of NJ Tenafly station. Would that not translate to seven or more substations?
"Commuter rail" is jargon, pure and simple. It's true that most people use it without thinking -- and that's a big part of the problem. It "sounds" limiting and, therefore, by logical extension, it does limit people's thinking about passenger rail's capabilities. We at NJ-ARP see it all the time, not just from railfans but from experts
It's very old jargon, dating back to when passenger rail "commuted" fares to ease the burden on workers traveling between home and workplace (especially with monthly, and sometimes annual, tickets). Nowadays, it's the one piece of jargon that separates passenger rail under FRA oversight (that operates on the general railway network, separated from other railways) from that under FTA oversight ("heavy rail" subways and "light rail"). It merely "sounds limiting" since historically, the frequency of "commuter rail" referred to service operating at peak hours only in a peak direction only.

Also, frankly, NJTR is a US corporation, whereas Kinki-Sharyo and Itachu (30 percent stakeholders in 21st Century Rail Corporation; the other 70 percent by a subsidiary of Raytheon, which reminds one of Bechtel's involvement in SNJLRT/River Line) are not.
From the perspective of LRT advocates in Tenafly, they've already had to suffer the "halfway" designation, from outside, as Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Transit first completed the "Hudson" portion, leaving Bergen for later
Originally, this light rail project did not have "Bergen" in its name at all, nor did it have a Bayonne segment. Even worse, it was supposed to be the light rail for the Hudson County Waterfront (hence the original name "Hudson County Waterfront Transportation Corridor"), of which it serves a minimal segment today.

Anecdotes abound as to the light rail being somehow "responsible" for neighborhoods in its surroundings being "gentrified". However, this does not explain what has happened to River Road and the former North Busway that stretches from Weehawken northward to Edgewater, which sees no HBLR service at all, but several buses and automobiles on the "stealth highway" makeover of River Road that is vilified by many light rail advocates. (Plus, the new denizens of River Road would nowadays perhaps react to the notion of a HBLR extension along River Road negatively, with the stereotypical "NIMBY" reaction, perhaps?)
Beyond that, we're not clear on how we're "hurt" by NJT's actions
HBLR's capital costs alone already exceed those of the supposedly "greatly expensive" high-speed rail corridors, by perhaps four to five times. And this is with use of existing rights of way versus building new right of way. NJT did not need to do this, even with the FRA requirements of physically separating LRT from general railway network on shared right of way. By comparison, adding lanes to highways looks far cheaper (even though in reality, it is not), and this would (and does) spark anti-rail voices to point fingers at the amounts of money spent on what ought to be far cheaper in terms of capital cost, even cheaper than "commuter rail".
In our view, it's dangerous to assert that light rail transit must always be "cheaper" than traditional rail, though we find it often is so. Price is important, but utility also matters, and if we believe LRT is a better fit for (let's say) the Northern Branch even if it were more expensive than DMUs would be for the route, we're not ashamed to say so
So far, it's not proving to be a superior fit to the traditional rail corridors it uses, one of which used to host prestigious trains of the Baltimore and Ohio RR (as well as 95-mph trains between Jersey City and Reading Terminal) and used to be a "Northeast Corridor" parallel to today's NEC in and of itself. (Could one imagine trolley cars on the former Pennsylvania Railroad?)

Even FRA passenger rail could attract the numbers that light rail does (and maybe more) were it to charge fares as cheap, and carry more passengers at faster average (and top) speeds. Using more vehicles at higher frequencies can lead to higher wear on both infrastructure and rolling stock, an expense that the low fare would not cover very well, even at 100 percent fare recovery. The Kinki-Sharyo vehicles are nice for short rides (under ten miles), but traveling twenty miles or more on such vehicles crammed with 200 people (as envisioned by NJT), even at 55 mph and a fare of $1.75, would be more than trying.

As far as the "Gold Coast" goes, even an extension of light rail to Tenafly leaves out most of Union City, West New York, Guttenberg, Edgewater, Cliffside Park, Fort Lee and Englewood Cliffs, and serves a still-industrial segment of North Bergen rather than its most populous areas.

NJT has been a stalwart enemy of light rail even while being its friend, mainly due to building it on the general railway network and unnecessarily expending high amounts of cash on it at the same time. This is a slap in the face to all rail advocates and rail passengers.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
Ohhhh-K. We'll bite.

1. "An" additional or "any additional"--pick your number: Our query still stands.

2. It may be old jargon, and that makes it more difficult to combat. But it does not make it "right." And using FRA as some gold standard simply reinforces our disdain for same. FRA the trendsetter, FRA the rules maker. Wowie zippo.

3. We've dealt with this "original" stuff before, and noted Irish Chieftain had the best take on the matter. Our statement still stands as valid, in our view, "original" or not. Tenafly folks (including "commuters," no?) suffer from the halfway designation right now, and clever rhetoric does not change that.

4. You'd compare Edgewater's development to Hoboken's comparable development favorably, then? Wow. Takes all kinds, but this is America. We'd urge you, however, to go ask some Edgewater residents how they see it. We have. The results weren't universal -- some folks really like Houston on the Hudson -- but some woebegone is there.

5. We're still not clear how NJ-ARP is "hurt" by NJT's actions, but RVRR15 makes some valid points here. We'd note RVRR15's analysis skips over some external political reasons for such capital cost increases -- right-of-way "swaps," environmental mitigation efforts added, even replacement sewer lines pegged onto transit costs -- but those things do indeed jive with his analysis.

6. "So far," we'd argue that things are "so far" -- but if RVRR15 and others want to stand on one foot, hold breath, turn blue, and demand better, using past as prologue, they're free to do so. Can we mention in turn the myriad** miles of LRT (trams and streetcars) that also were superior in the past? Perhaps frequency there, too, would alleviate the horrific "traveling twenty miles or more on such vehicles crammed with 200 people" just as more FRA-compliant rail might.

6a. We'll still bank on the Gold Coast, thank you. We're intimately familiar with it, and we'd argue LRT is a key component.

6b. Edgewater's exclusion from HBLRT was its own choice. The other Bergen County towns listed indeed aren't to be served by service to Tenafly; that doesn't make Tenafly's need invalid, nor selfish.

6c. "NJT has been a stalwart enemy of light rail even while being its friend ..." No argument from NJ-ARP on this portion of the statement, at least.

** Addendum: We originally posted "700 miles," but couldn't confirm that and so have edited the content above. We'll work to affirm the peak number; meanwhile, we remain comfortable with the statement as amended.
  by Douglas John Bowen
 
Checking back on this thread, we note we're guilty of drifting from the original subject matter -- service to and from Newark from/to points nearby, such as Belleville and Nutley -- where lots of rational and solid points of view have been offered. We remain keenly interested in people's take on this matter, since there's lots more time to plan for the future, and (we hope) get things right, or at least more right than projects past.

If we need a "flash" point for argument for this area, it's our belief that we can do better than "commuter" anything. But mode, route, frequency, station stops, political maneuvering, NIMBY combat -- we're all ears for suggestions and observations.

  by RVRR 15
 
using FRA as some gold standard simply reinforces our disdain for same. FRA the trendsetter, FRA the rules maker. Wowie zippo
FRA remains the dictatorial tyrant over the "general railway network" notwithstanding, and the FTA does not have power over its territory. If FRA regards itself as setting a "gold standard", then I don't know about it in particular; but of course, that doesn't mean that they don't behave in that manner (and of course, the AAR has its hand in such matters, although it seems to me as an outsider that the AAR were not responsible for things like FRA Tier II and suchlike).

If the populace has leverage over the FRA in any respect when it comes to impeding passenger rail expansion, then that would be another weapon in the arsenal of rail advocates and ought to be used.

Even so, in the arena of shared LRT/general railway network operations around the world, other countries do not let any old "tram" onto the general railway network; "tram-trains" are built to buff strength standards of their general railway networks, and are adapted to switch voltages (where electrified) between "tram" voltage and railway voltage. But this is old news, of course. (Imagine on the Northeast Corridor in, let's say, the mid-40s, after a train of MP54s passes by, the next vehicle to arrive is a Peter Witt?)
We've dealt with this "original" stuff before, and noted Irish Chieftain had the best take on the matter. Our statement still stands as valid, in our view, "original" or not. Tenafly folks (including "commuters," no?) suffer from the halfway designation right now, and clever rhetoric does not change that
Focusing on one town is a little myopic, and of course you have pointed that out. Tenafly does not have to be pigeonholed into a "halfway designation" simply based on an existing rail line that passes through it.
You'd compare Edgewater's development to Hoboken's comparable development favorably, then? Wow. Takes all kinds, but this is America. We'd urge you, however, to go ask some Edgewater residents how they see it. We have. The results weren't universal -- some folks really like Houston on the Hudson -- but some woebegone is there
"Woe begone" means that woe has been banished; I take it you were thinking of another simile.

As for a favorable regard to River Road, personally, no; but NIMBYs and real estate agents would certainly love it. And of course, since some pro-LRT voices have pointed out development following light rail (which appears to cite light rail as the driving factor behind such development), anti-rail voices would point to River Road as proof (on their part, that is) that such development occurs independent of the presence of LRT.
We'd note RVRR15's analysis skips over some external political reasons for such capital cost increases -- right-of-way "swaps," environmental mitigation efforts added, even replacement sewer lines pegged onto transit costs
Since politicians are not going to make utterly clear how such pegs would be distinguished by transit costs, it'd be in the best interest of rail advocates to tabulate the "pure rail" capital costs as distinguished from same (and indeed, how much environmental mitigation is necessary on existing rights of way); this way, it would not be so easy for anti-rail people to point at costs that have been so inflated and cite them as being exorbitant compared to "more roads".
  • 1
  • 20
  • 21
  • 22
  • 23
  • 24
  • 31