January 24, 2013 at 7:35 AM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Local and state elected officials met with NJ Transit representatives Wednesday to discuss the first steps moving forward to improving Midtown Direct train service to South Orange, beginning to mitigate changes last October that negatively impacted the service to the Village's commuters. The nearly 4,000 riders who use South Orange station each week day include hundreds of residents from nearby West Orange and Livingston.
In Wednesday's meeting, NJ Transit officials announced a proposal aimed at reducing evening travel time for commuters by eliminating two stops from the 6:19 Midtown Direct train from NY Penn Station. Elimination of Train 6355's stops in Secaucus and Newark would reduce this train's travel time to South Orange by approximately six minutes, and reduce unscheduled delays, thanks to more efficient positioning of the train in the evening's que. The removal of these two stops will also help ease congestion on this train.
Additionally, 100 more multi-level train cars are being delivered to NJ Transit now through August, which will further help ease congestion.
NJ Transit officials will be attending the South Orange's Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Jan. 28 (8 p.m., South Orange Village Hall) to present their proposal in more detail to the public and interested commuters, as well as discuss how the restoration of more Hoboken and PATH trains will impact service, and several other topics. All interested parties and community members are encouraged to attend.
Officials Wednesday also discussed potential capital improvements to the South Orange train station, strategies to ensure long-term funding for commuter jitneys. Officials also commited to continue to explore more steps that are needed to mitigate the concerns around last October's schedule changes, especially as South Orange continues to redevelop key areas in the downtown adjacent to the train station and welcomes an increasing number of commuters from neighboring towns.
Present at Wednesday's meeting from NJ Transit were Paul Wyckoff, Chief of Government and External Affairs, John Leon, Senior Director of Government and Community Relations; Anthony Greico, Senior Director of Customer Service & Transit Information; Rae Hutton, Senior Director of Legislative Affairs; Tom Morgan, Senior Director of Rail Service Planning; Sallie Morris, Regional Manager of Government Affairs; as well as Assemblywoman Mila Jasey; Mary Theroux, Chief of Staff to Assemblywoman Jasey, Ron Botelho, Chief of Staff to Assemblyman John McKeon; Justin Davis, Aide to Senator Richard Codey, South Orange Village President Alex Torpey, West Orange Mayor Rob Parisi; Livingston Mayor Rudy Fernandez and South Orange Trustee Mark Rosner.