Let's start with the history question: In 1984 the university purchased the old stations and surrounding property from NJ Transit. The proceeds were dedicated to contributing to Dinky operating subsidy, split over ten years. NJ Transit continues to own the entirety of the Dinky ROW.
On the matter of extending the Dinky to Plainsboro or West Windsor: The only reason for rail transit in an affluent suburban area is to provide relief from a tedious commute; typical mass transit (buses) well serve the transit-dependent. The conclusion is that such an extension to Forrestal would not generate sufficient riders to justify Federal support. The cost to build a flyover--let alone a tunnel--would yield a cost per incremental rider more than the Detroit People Mover. In addition a separate LRV (and crew) would be required for each extension. How else to meet most trains at the NEC?
25Hz seems satisfied with the current EMU operation, if only service could be increased. But it can't! NJTransit's current labor contract limits roundtrips to three per hour. As 25Hz surely realizes, the current Arrow IIIs could easily make five, absent this mandated tradition.
The new station at the university is under construction with high-level platform. When the Dinky is converted to light rail, the track will be raised to platform level with plenty of track for the gradient. The platform at the Junction will be converted to low level by cutting back the existing platform by four feet and building stairs to the higher level. An ADA pathway already exists. There will be no need for any new high-level platforms; therefore, no worries about space or property acquisition or associated cost. One-off high-level LRVs a problem? Every major manufacturer still builds them. (But they were never under consideration anyway.)
LRV storage will be inside the secured maintenance facility to be built over the existing storage yard. Cost of entire facility: $1.2 million. Contract maintenance service readily available to supplement single staff mechanic. No additional grade-crossing protection will be required.
There will be no additional overhead traction lines; any extension beyond the new station will be by power stored in supercapacitors. The existing OHL will be converted to 650vDC with two factory-built substations mounted on poured-concrete plinths. $65,000 each.
Road markings and signage costs will amount to 0.00001 total capital budget. Soap dispensers in the restrooms will be even less.
About the cost of the LRV: The "VLRV" we have specified is modular; two modules connected make up a train. Therefore we only need a single additional module as a spare, whereas all other LRVs would require a fleet of at least two complete vehicles. Total vehicle cost: $6 million, $2 million a module. (A single Bombardier "Flexity" delivers at $5.8 million.)
Now that I've batted away the examples of 25Hz's rigid thinking, I'll get ready for tomorrow's meeting of the task force.