SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- NJ Transit executive director Ronnie Hakim revealed in response to questions by Assemblyman Joseph Cryan (D-20th District) during a budget hearing in Trenton yesterday that the railroad plans to expand the one-seat ride service toto New York City via the Raritan Valley line evenings after 8 p.m., starting in fall 2014.

“At this point we are finalizing some logistical issues, so we are not prepared to let the public know how many trains will be utilized and what that schedule may be,” said William J. Smith, a spokesman for NJ Transit.

The decision is being hailed by local government leaders who have actively lobbied for expansion of one-seat rides into Manhattan.

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“It’s important to thank Assemblyman Cryan to inquire during budget hearings yesterday and NJ Transit for understanding the groundswell of support for one-seat service along the Raritan Valley line,” said Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, who has worked with mayors of neighboring towns push for the expanded service. “Our ultimate goal is to get one-set ridership during peak hours, including the morning commute.”

“This really is great news,” Mahr added. “Peter Palmer and the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition are affective advocates for change, and they should be commended. This development also shows that NJ Transit is a willing partner. This is going to benefit so many of our residents who come here because of train station and access to their work in New York City.” 

"The expansion of the One Seat Ride for the Raritan Valley Line is a great step forward in progress. It will not only provide much needed improvement for commuters, but it also fosters economic development for towns along the line,” said Bo Vastine, Scotch Plains Council Liaison to the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition.

“As more people working in Manhattan view the corridor as a feasible alternative for their residence, the value of house properties increase,” Vastine added.  “This effort has been a long time in development, but it would appear that the many years of effort are finally paying off."  

“One-seat ride service during off-peak weekday hours on the Raritan Valley line has been received very positively since it was launched in March,” said Somerset County Freeholder Peter S. Palmer, who chairs the rail coalition.  “We are very proud of the working relationship we have established with NJ Transit, and the evening service is a very important second step of getting increased one-seat ride access using the new dual locomotives."

Off-peak one-seat service trains began along the Raritan Valley Line on March 3 for  Union County communities of Plainfield (and Netherwood), Fanwood, Westfield, Garwood, Cranford, Roselle Park and Union.