BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes and Raritan Mayor Charles McMullin have joined with officials from 26 towns on the Raritan Valley Train Line to form a Mayors Task Force seeking to get one-seat train service into NY Penn Station during peak hours.

The task force is part of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, and they met in Westfield to map out a strategy to get support from Gov. Phil Murphy, transportation commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and Senate and Assembly representatives to fund the direct train service.

In recent years, the coalition has successfully negotiated morning and evening direct trains, but only during weekday off peak hours.

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According to a release, the task force and RVRC are committed to improving the commute for riders who struggle daily with service interruptions and time-consuming train and platform transfers.

The coalition, the release said, is committed to working on a proposal to NJ Transit that would request direct trains during peak periods. The task force is hoping elected officials will support the request.

In a joint statement from Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle and Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, they noted the impact of having reliable, quality transportation. According to the Regional Plan Association, proximity to high quality transit is associated with increased property values; every minute saved on a morning commute to NYC increases home values by $3,000; and efficient transportation is important for attracting business and employees.

In addition, according to the release, the task force stressed the importance of funding from the federal government for the Gateway Project. The project, they said, will provide additional slots in NY Penn Station for Raritan Valley Line trains.

The Gateway Project, according to the release, includes the construction of two new Hudson River tunnels, rehabilitation of the existing tunnels, additional tracks and platforms at NY Penn Station and the Portal Bridge replacement.