Business & Finance

Raritan Valley Rail Coalition Inches Closer to its Goal of a Direct Train from Westfield to NYC

January 22, 2013 at 1:42 PM

WESTFIELD, NJ—If you’ve ever dreamed of stepping onto a train in Westfield and staying in that seat until you reached Manhattan, The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC) is fighting for your cause.

For years the RVRC has proposed a “one-seat ride” on the Raritan Valley line that runs through Westfield that would allow passengers to ride directly into New York’s Penn Station without having to make a transfer at Newark Penn Station or elsewhere.

At a meeting held last month in Westfield, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) outlined these benefits of a one-seat ride:

Sign Up for E-News

  • shorter trip – by approximately 15 minutes one way
  • eliminates risk of missed connections
  • new jobs
  • higher personal incomes – Manhattan pays 60% higher for medium-wage jobs
  • more income tax revenues
  • more sales tax revenues
  • higher property values – one study found that every minute saved on commutes increases home values by $3,000
  • reductions in driving, congestion and air pollution

While talks of a one-seat ride aren’t new, the topic has resurfaced after New Jersey Transit’s recent purchase of 36 dual-mode locomotives that can run on diesel or electric power, which means they can ride both on the Raritan Valley Line (which can’t run electric trains) and through the Hudson River tunnels (which can’t accommodate the smoke from diesel-powered locomotives).

These locomotives are currently in the testing phase and will be available for commuters within the next two years. 

The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce has gotten behind the idea.

“Although another tunnel is a potential solution down the road, clearly the costs and benefits are still being evaluated. However, dual-powered engines are already being tested in New Jersey, and we at the Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce would love our train line to benefit from at least one of them,” said GWACC Executive Director Heather Robinson.

But when the duel-powered locomotives are ready for use, there is no guarantee that Westfielders will reap the benefits. There are only two tunnels leading into New York City and the maximum number of trains allowed during peak times is 23. At this time, the tunnels are at maximum capacity and no additional trains will be allowed.

“If we were to get dual-mode locomotives it would be very hard to get a peak period time slot because someone would have to give up their time slot. There would be uproar from the public and uproar from elected officials. The ARC [Access to the Region’s Core] project would have provided extra capacity. The ARC project was cancelled last January,” explained Ken Wedeen, staff person for the RVRC.

“One of the big challenges everywhere is financial. There’s tightness in what budgets can allow. More attention is on maintaining rather than focusing on new services,” added GWACC member and radio journalist Bernie Wagenblast. (Click here to hear his report on the meeting in Westfield.)

The ARC project, which might have expanded the number of rail tracks available under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey, has now been replaced by the Gateway Project. This project will add two more rail lines between NJ and NYC by adding a third tunnel under the Hudson River, and add 10 new train slots during peak periods. The project will take approximately 10 years to complete and cost in the $10 to $15 billion range.

While the costs are substantial, financing would be made through Amtrak. This would mean more money for the project and more possible sources of funding.

In the meantime, the RVRC and the RPA want to get the word out and let the public know how vital this project is to everyone along the Raritan Valley Line.

“We have the ridership here and want to get as much service as we can,” says Wedeen. “Reach out to your local elected officials. Draft a resolution to request a one-seat ride.”

According to Wedeen, if Westfield gets a one-seat ride, there is potential for increased property value within a one- to two-mile radius of train stations, property taxes generated by the town could go up, sales tax revenue in town could increase and economic growth could increase. These benefits make Westfield more attractive to homebuyers and renters. Jobs in Manhattan pay more than jobs in New Jersey, so when commuters bring that money home, they have more to spend, and that money could go back to the local economy.

“The town becomes more self-reliant,” said Wedeen.

 “One-seat ride is an initiative which stands to make a positive financial impact on all of the communities which enjoy its convenience, including our own Raritan Valley Line. Anything that boosts property values and makes traveling to and from our towns more convenient is an excellent example of how commerce and community are tied together,” said Robinson.

The next RVRC meeting will take place Monday, March 4, at the Somerset County Administration Building, 20 Grove Street, Somerville, NJ. The meeting will be open to the public. A featured speaker from Amtrak is possible, and attendees will be updated on the one-seat ride initiative, the Gateway Project and other Raritan Valley Line project updates.

To find out more information about the RVRC and RPA, visit rvrc@co.somerset.nj.us and www.rpa.org.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Westfield

Pedestrian Killed on Route 22 in Union Friday Identified

January 20, 2017

UNION, NJ – The man struck and killed by a motor vehicle as he attempted to cross Route 22 Friday morning has been identified as Edgard Cruz of Union.

According to Union Police, the accident occurred at 9:30 a.m. Friday near the Point Condos and Chick-fil-A.

Cruz, 67, was attempting to cross three lanes of Route 22 East from the Point Condos to the 7-Eleven on the ...

Object to Builder Who Wants to 'Shoehorn' Townhomes into Westfield Lot

January 22, 2017

Editor,

Last August, a local Westfielder wrote to you about a neighborhood group that has formed to object to and fight against an out-of-town builder who wants to “shoehorn” six very large townhomes and a parking lot at 1481 East Broad Street into a space that is less than one acre.  I am writing to you, Westfielders, to look for your support in opposing this proposal as ...

Free Public Wi-Fi in Union County Parks and Facilities

January 19, 2017

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that free public Wi-Fi access is available now in 6 new parks throughout the county. There are now a total of 11 county parks and facilities that offer free Wi-Fi.

“We are committed to ensuring that our recreation facilities are up to date and welcoming to a broad range of activities.” said Chairman Bruce Bergen.

Crisis Listening Line to Offer Suicide Prevention Training and Volunteering Opportunities

January 21, 2017

Are you a good listener? Do you want to make a difference in the life of someone in crisis?

Crisis listening line Caring Contact will be offering Excellence in Listening training beginning March 20 at the First Baptist Church at 170 Elm Street in Westfield. Classes run for three hours one night a week, plus one full weekend, ending June 12.

This award-winning training enables graduates to ...

A Winning Real Estate Strategy

If you’ve been thinking of selling your home, consider this …

Interest rates are still historically low and home prices are at record highs.  With predictions that interest rates will adjust upwards in 2017, there is presently an abundance of buyers looking to capitalize on these low rates.  Low interest rates mean more buying power.

We are in the hottest selling ...

Westfield Area YMCA Offers Heart-Healthy Tips to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Sodium Intake

February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based organization committed to improving the nation’s health, the Westfield Area YMCA urges the community to help prevent heart disease by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 3 ...

Doing Too Much for Our Children

January 20, 2017

As parents, we all have that innate desire to protect and provide for our kids. Yet, at some point we must ask ourselves, Are we doing too much for them? 

We are all guilty of mild and extreme acts of over-protectiveness and over- parenting that can be very damaging to our children. Many parents are willing to overextend themselves in catering to their children and excessively ...

Westfield High School Students Selected for Region Band & Orchestra

Seven Westfield High School Band students were accepted to the 2017 New Jersey Music Education Association Region Band or Orchestra.  Three of the seven students placed first overall in their instrument: Dale Beyert - Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, Trumpet; Michael Hauge - Wind Ensemble, Eb & Bb Clarinet, and Brooke Walden - Wind Ensemble and Orchestra, Piccolo & ...

Testing Your Resolve

Now that the ball has dropped in Times Square it is time for another annual tradition – New Year’s resolutions. So, along with improving your diet and exercising more, consider adding these:

“Will” you? – I have lost count of how many clients with whom I have met that have a spouse, children and substantial assets but an outdated or even no will at all.

Closed Fund Open Mind

Closed-end funds (CEFs) can play an important role in a diversified investment portfolio. They offer benefits similar to those of an open-end mutual fund, but also sport unique advantages.  

Unlike a traditional open-end mutual fund, CEFs have a fixed number of shares available to trade. Their price is not tied to the value of the underlying portfolio. The only way the number of shares ...

It Even Happened to Me

Beware of credit card fraud — it can happen to anyone.

I was shopping at a retail establishment over the holidays and purchased some items with my business credit card. The next day, I was downloading my credit card activity into QuickBooks and spotted some strange charges - they were not large amounts, but they originated from establishments I don't frequent, like ...

Video: Mistreated, Harassed, Abused, Discriminated Against or Retaliated Against at Work?

Have you been mistreated, harassed, abused, discriminated against or retaliated against by your employer?

Watch this video to learn how Westfield employment attorney Fred Shahrooz-Scampato, who for the last 25 years has aggressively represented employees, can help you.

If you are the victim of prejudice or spend every day in a hostile work environment, you can give him a call for ...

Holy Trinity School Spotlight - 6th Grade

Sixth grade is a transitional year for students as they enter middle school.  Holy Trinity School embraces this change through its continued commitment to creating an environment in which its students can grow and develop academically, socially, and spiritually. 

In sixth grade, the curriculum becomes more departmentalized with students rotating classes for various subjects and ...

Imagine Receives Grant of $20,000 from the Northfield Bank Foundation

“We are so grateful to The Northfield Bank Foundation for their generous grant of $20,000 for the expansion of our bereavement support programs at our new center in Mountainside!” said Stuart Arnold, Imagine Board Chair.  “We are moving in the nick of time as all of our Green Groups (ages 10-12 approximately) are full.  Moving into this new space will allow us to ...

South Orange Middle School Students Walkout of School in Protest of Inauguration

January 20, 2017

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - South Orange Middle School (SOMS) students walked out of school today at about 12:30 p.m. in protest of the Presidential inauguration of Donald Trump.

According to reports, SOMS students began protesting inside the halls at about 12:15 p.m., with the walkout happening shortly afterwards. The protest, which was student-led and organized, was largely organized ...