NEWARK, NJ -- Mayors and volunteers for the Raritan Valley Line (RVL) Mayors' Alliance met commuters at Track 5 in Newark Penn Station for the second "Rally for Commuters" and were met with an enthusiastic response of people lining up to sign the petition and get a One Seat Ride tee shirt.
"People were lining up to sign the petition and were much more engaged," said Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle, commenting on how different this was from the June rally. "They wanted information and appreciated that there is a group working on their behalf."
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr arrived at the Rally straight from a meeting with legislators and NJ Transit representatives where she pressed them on RVL Mayors' determination to continue the fight for better, reliable and equitable service.
"We are 32 mayors strong advocating for our residents who deserve better service. The current situation of long and often unexpected delays added to a commute that involves switching trains and platforms is totally unfair and unacceptable," she said.
The RVL Mayors' Alliance group came with 100 bright orange One Seat Ride tee shirts and almost 1,000 pieces of literature. "It was all gone by 6:30 p.m. when we boarded the trains back home," said Mayor Brindle. "We intend to continue this effort until the Governor, the Legislature, and NJ Transit recognize that Raritan Valley Line does not have the service that more than 23,000 people deserve."
Commuters, including Tom Ryan of Fanwood, who has commuted on NJ Transit for more than two decades, believe that one-seat rides would make a tremendous difference for those who take the Raritan Valley Line to get to work.
"A one-seat ride is important for us. It's important for property values in town. I think NJ Transit broke its promise to us when they removed one-seat ride. This route has substantial ridership," Ryan said. "One-seat ride is a gift, it's 58 minutes. It would be an amazing ridership improvement."
Kathleen Miller Prunty, a long time RVL Mayors volunteer and current candidate for Cranford Town Council, said that service on the line is actually going backwards since the suspension of off-peak direct train service.
"After a great deal of work, we got off peak direct trains in 2014. That service was suspended a year ago for implementation of Positive Train Control. We were told it would be restored in January or February of 2019. We still don't have the service or commitment it will be restored, so we are back where we started in 2014."
The RVL Mayors encourage everyone to sign the petition on their website www.rvlmayors.org.