• New Dinky to Nassau Street

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

Moderators: lensovet, Kaback9, nick11a

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  by ExCon90
 
For interesting developments on this topic, go to New Jersey Railfan and look at Abandoned Line to Lawrenceville.
  by Ken W2KB
 
No, I am sure those business entities did the calcs. But read the advertising literature by solar installers which typically says something like "for $10,000 you will save $1,000 on your bills each year, so you get your money back in only 10 years." They conveniently neglect to mention that $1 in the future is worth a lot less than that $1 today because of inflation and lost opportunity costs. So the payback is really a lot longer than10 years and in some cases, is never paid back when correctly calculated.

I think we may be saying the same thing differently. Yes, the entity that is subsidized does OK, but basically as a public policy, it shifts the costs of renewable sources to others. So millions of ratepayers and taxpayers have larger bills so a few thousand of their peers who sign up for solar get lower bills. Fundamentally unfair. If these renewable sources of electric power were truly economic, there would be no need for a subsidy. One of the major costs is the need for backup generation to cover times when renewable sources are not available, not full sun, not enough (or too much) wind, etc. That very substantial cost is a significant part of the subsidy structure.

For the described Princeton operation, the system would need such a backup source which is costly unless it can shift the cost to others by qualifying for a subsidy program. Note also that unlike the business organizations, there is no tax benefit to tax exempt entities so the payback is longer.
  by Rodney Fisk
 
The question of solar power for the new Dinky is now moot; let's move on. For the record, Princeton Interurban is not tax-exempt and would qualify for the standard package of benefits and subsidies--and eco-friendly publicity. Also, solar power would not have directly powered the LRVs. They will take propulsion power directly from the grid--converted to 750V DC, of course. Any energy from our solar array would have been inverted and fed directly back to the grid, calculated to net out.
  by loufah
 
Rodney Fisk wrote:Farebox recovery ratio would be above 110%. How? By specifying equipment best suited to the service, operated by a rational crew paid market wages, rather than high-cost, over-sized equipment, operated by a traditional crew paid negotiated wages.
As long as this proposal is getting rid of the historical Dinky, was BRT considered? Propulsion costs might be higher than LRV, but driver wages, the major cost, will likely be much less, since you can hire basically anyone with a driver license.
  by M&Eman
 
loufah wrote:
Rodney Fisk wrote:Farebox recovery ratio would be above 110%. How? By specifying equipment best suited to the service, operated by a rational crew paid market wages, rather than high-cost, over-sized equipment, operated by a traditional crew paid negotiated wages.
As long as this proposal is getting rid of the historical Dinky, was BRT considered? Propulsion costs might be higher than LRV, but driver wages, the major cost, will likely be much less, since you can hire basically anyone with a driver license.
Driver costs are not an issue with light rail. They aren't full-fledged engineers, but simply transit employees, just like bus drivers or subway motormen. The amount of time/cost it takes to train an employee on a trolley or LRV is similar to the amount of time it takes to get a new hire the correct class license they need to operate a bus legally and safely.
  by EDM5970
 
I proposed a system change and addition a year or so ago, and had a letter to the editor published in the Times. In a nutshell, it involved replacing the Arrows with some newer high platform cars, lighter in weight and designed for one-person operation. The cars would run on the existing 11 kV AC; such equipment is available in Europe.

For feeder routes, instead of adding to Princeton's already horrible traffic issues by ripping up the streets (as was proposed by others then-) and putting down trolley tracks, I suggested electric busses. Run them during the day, recharge them at the central depot at night-

This plan could be done with minimal infrastructure changes and not much more than the the cost of the new equipment. For some reason, perhaps because it wasn't a case of re-inventing the wheel, apparently no one took my ideas seriously.
  by SouthernRailway
 
I'm all for private operators running passenger rail, but I'm confused on the numbers: the article in the Daily Princetonian states that the Dinky costs the state $8,000 per day (over $2.8 million), but one of the posts in this thread says that the loss is $1.2 million per year.

Which is is?

One of the light-rail trains used in Charlotte, NC on the LYNX Blue Line is I believe built by Siemens and is pretty quick and comfortable; it might be a good one for this.
  by bfh
 
Another version of the numbers (from http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2011/07/13/28643/ ):
The annual operating cost of the Dinky’s service to Princeton Station is $1.8 million, Clark explained. Dinky fares bring in an annual $977,000 in revenue, and the serves serves a little over 1,000 passengers every weekday. However, ridership has remained relatively flat since 2001 while other modes of transportation have seen tremendous growth.

NJ Transit Senior Director John Leon pointed out that the organization’s subsidy of the Dinky service was around 50 percent, while the subsidy on most of NJ Transit’s lines is less than 50 percent.
  by Hawaiitiki
 
Ok I've been trying to piece together what people have been saying here into some sort of rational thought. From what I've gathered, this proposal suggests running an LRV under power from PJ to Princton Station, then using power stored in onboard batteries, travel to downtown Princeton. And the gentleman's original proposal involved powering the LRVs between PJ and Princeton using solar power from some "to-be-named" solar collection facility? Is this right? Has any of this specifically ever been done before?

I honestly hope this sort of public-private initiative takes off because New Jersey is full of areas(New Brunswick/Piscataway, Elizabeth, Paterson, Atlantic City/Wildwood,...etc) that would be well served by small-medium sized Light Rail/Streetcar systems, and hopefully something like this can serve as a catalyst. I believe New Jersey's population density could be very well served by a Karlsruhe model type transportation network, but with the current state of the FRA regulations, tram-train mixing is a big "no-no" and likely will be for the forseeable future. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karlsruhe_model
  by Rodney Fisk
 
Let's abandon this topic/thread and move comments/questions to "New Dinky to Nassau Street".
  by Rodney Fisk
 
Let me address a number of questions raised in this forum, which I hope will become the primary place for Dinky-related discussion, as well as on lesser Dinky forums or those with a more specialized focus.

Loufah asked about our business plan: It runs to about a hundred pages and is proprietary at this stage, but I can address certain questions. Indeed, the total conversion will cost "millions", but perhaps fewer of them than you might imagine. The total capital plan includes railcar and spare, conversion of power supply from 11kV AC to 750V DC (3 substations), maintenance facility, extension of track to Nassau Street (0.6 mile), new station in town, fare-collection system, etc. Projected total: under $15 million. The cost to the university of the new station at the new Arts Campus and related improvements will exceed $3 million, more than enough for the mandated 20% local match to fund the additional capital costs through an unusual mechanism we devised and had approved by FTA for an earlier venture. The primary requirement is that we seek no operating subsidy, and we won't. (Hard as it is to believe, the new Dinky will turn a profit, a singular accomplishment.)

Converting the Dinky to BRT was indeed evaluated by NJ Transit and determined to be the "locally preferred alternative"--until 200 people showed up at a public hearing to declare their preference actually was for the Dinky to remain a rail link, and it will.

As for using Karlsruhe-type, high-voltage trams, they're very expensive and can't operate on stored power, to say nothing of the problems of having an 11kV OHL buzzing 15 feet from dorm windows on the extended route. As for laying new track, we propose introducing a new in-street track system to this country. It requires no more infrastructure disruption than cutting two 8"x8" channels into the pavement. The new Siemens and Bombardier streetcars are beautiful, technologically complicated and very expensive--to purchase, maintain and propel. Our designated LRV reflects Einstein's adage: "as simple as possible, but no simpler". (Plus it's faster by 10 mph and uses 40% less electricity.)

Now let's clear up the confusion about Dinky operating costs. When NJ Transit was trying to show how great BRT was in its lamentable study, it wanted to make the Dinky look as costly as possible, so it used fully allocated costs, including 100+% overhead; total of $2.8 million. When trying to show that the Dinky was just about as efficient as other operations, it used more realistic avoidable costs; reduced total of $1.8 million.

Remember that solar power for traction--yes, it would have been a first--is no longer part of the proposal; hardly "as simple as possible".

Finally as to crew: we believe we will be able to recruit highly motivated drivers at $20 per hour, 50% fringe.
  by Hawaiitiki
 
Thanks for all of the information Mr. Fisk, but I still have one question. Is there any sort of precedent for this anywhere on Earth? I totally understand that for progress to occur, someone has to going against the norm and break the seal, but I just see this being an extremely hard sell without real world tested technology. I, for one, am on your side, but Princeton NIMBYs likely arent as rail-friendly.
  by Rodney Fisk
 
When I first proposed this concept some years ago, there was no where else on Earth I could point to. Now there are privately operated branches all over Europe and elsewhere, plus whole systems such as BR and JNR. Princeton is very devoted to its Dinky and there is much support for its rational extension into town (where the station was 90 years ago). Indeed if the Dinky were put out for bid, several other groups would enter the competition.

The key to our ability to provide service at lowest reasonable cost is the particular LRV we have chosen. It has passed the prototype stage and is now in demonstration operation. We would hope to introduce it into service in the U.S.
  by Ken W2KB
 
Rodney Fisk wrote:When I first proposed this concept some years ago, there was no where else on Earth I could point to. Now there are privately operated branches all over Europe and elsewhere, plus whole systems such as BR and JNR. Princeton is very devoted to its Dinky and there is much support for its rational extension into town (where the station was 90 years ago). Indeed if the Dinky were put out for bid, several other groups would enter the competition.

The key to our ability to provide service at lowest reasonable cost is the particular LRV we have chosen. It has passed the prototype stage and is now in demonstration operation. We would hope to introduce it into service in the U.S.
Additional comment: >11kV AC to 750V DC (3 substations)<

Would you not purchase power via PSE&G? Don't have the immediate info, but PSE&G distribution primary is generally 4kV in older systems, and either 13kV or 26kV in newer. Not 11kV. If you are planning on purchasing power from Amtrak, that could lead to legal/regulatory issues for Amtrak as a seller, plus the 25Hz AC input to the rectifier might be more costly to build the substations as it would be one of a kind. Amtrak's grid is mostly linear and less reliable than a typical utility grid. Do you really need 3 substations on such a short operation? Two I would think would be plenty, with the ability to run off of one while the other is offline for maintenance.

These suggestions might shave a bit more off the cost. Again, best of luck in getting this done!
  by Rodney Fisk
 
Wasn't thinking when I wrote 11kV. Of course, we'll draw power from PSE&G at 13kV 60Hz. Our EE recommended 3 substations; we'll really be running our unit at its limit, so we want to minimize voltage drop.
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