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Mayor's Alliance Tackles Commuter's Raritan Valley Railway Woes

By Russ Crespolini, Patch Staff | Nov 20, 2018 2:15 pm ET

WESTFIELD, NJ - Last Thursday, before the snow began to fall, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle and co-chairs of the Raritan Valley Line Mayor's Alliance, Fanwood Mayor Colleen Yewaisis Mahr and Bound Brook Mayor Bob Fazen joined State Senators Tom Kean, Joe Cryan, and Kip Bateman to discuss a bipartisan effort to find a legislative solution to the trouble commuters face on the Raritan Valley Line.

Two of their stated objectives is to obtain a peak one seat ride for the Raritan Valley Line, while also demanding service improvements to New Jersey Transit.

"I am very aware of how insufferable the commute has become, and its impact on the quality of life for so many of our residents," Brindle said. "I will continue to work with our state legislators to hold NJT accountable and advocate for our commuters and will continue to keep you posted on our progress."

The trio of mayors wrote a letter to Governor Phil Murphy on behalf of the 23 communities and nearly 300,000 New Jersey residents on the Raritan Valley Line. They told Murphy of their profound dissatisfaction with the current state of NJ Transit and its ongoing deterioration.

"The 23,000 daily commuters in our municipalities have been given a set of sub-standard choices for their daily transit needs in and out of Manhattan, and while we recognize this problem has been a long time in the making, we have assembled our collective efforts to do our part in moving toward a solution-oriented environment that effects change," they said.

They also took issue with the suspension of the one-seat ride that took place of the summer. One-seat ride would allow Raritan Valley line commuters destined for Midtown Manhattan to stay in one seat their entire trip. Currently, they must exit their diesel powered train at Newark Penn Station and change to another train operating on the Northeast Corridor, often on a separate platform and requiring two level changes, to take them into Midtown's Penn Station New York.

Following the Positive Train Control project it is expected that one-seat ride would be reinstated on the Raritan Valley Line.

"We firmly believe this presents an ideal opportunity for NJ Transit to newly assess and re-allocate the dual locomotives to enable a peak one-seat ride more equitably – one that is based on ridership and appropriately incorporates the Raritan Valley Line commuters who have been underserved by the current off-peak allocation," the mayors wrote.

Brindle, Mahr and Fazen said that peak one-seat rides would allow Raritan Valley Line towns to compete equally for residential and commercial investment, enhance current economic redevelopment efforts in progress along the entire corridor, enable employers to compete for younger, skilled talent from Manhattan, and ultimately increase property values in all Raritan Valley Line municipalities.

And according to Brindle, they will seek legislative options to make it a reality.

"A RVL peak one seat ride should be part of any service overhaul of NJTransit, which is long overdue," Brindle said.

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