The following is from Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca on the reduction in service of the NJ Transit Morris & Essex (M&E) train line this summer.
Elected officials from nearly ten communities along the M&E train line met [on June 7] with NJ Transit executives in Kearny. The elected officials made the case about the inequity of diverting only one train line - the M&E - to Hoboken. We asked for some burden sharing
Transit personnel said they heard our request for equity but I am not optimistic the decision will be changed.
We discussed the operation plan during the construction and the following information is based on Mayor De Luca's notes. As such, the information is subject to change or correction by NJ Transit.
1. M&E direct train service to Penn Station – During the week Maplewood and South Orange will have three trains directly into NYC – around 5 a.m.; 5:50 a.m., and 6:18 a.m. A new schedule will be developed by NJT with specific times.
All other weekday M&E trains will be diverted to Hoboken.
Weekend M&E direct trains into NYC will continue as scheduled.
2. M&E direct train service from Penn Station – During the week there will be NO DIRECT SERVICE to Maplewood and South Orange at anytime.
Weekend M&E direct trains from NYC will continue as scheduled.
3. Hoboken Diversion – Other than the early morning direct trains to NYC all other M&E trains will be sent to Hoboken. In the evening, all M&E trains will leave from Hoboken.
Trains to Hoboken will be made longer and be better coordinated to eliminate the waits that occurred in the past when emergency diversions were made. Transit will develop a new schedule for trains to Hoboken.
4. Transfers to NYC –There will be a number of options:
A. From Hoboken:
1. PATH trains will be increased to every 5 minutes from the customary every 8 minutes.
2. Ferry service will be instituted to 39th Street on an every 15 minute basis from 7am until 10 a.m. (approximate). The trip across the Hudson is about 9-10 minutes. Ferry service will continue to the World Financial Center and Pier 11.
3. Bus service will be added to take passengers from Hoboken Terminal to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
B. From Newark Broad:
1. Newark Light Rail will be increased to every 10 minutes to take passengers to Newark Penn Station for connection to trains to NY Penn Station
2. Bus service will be added to take passengers from Newark Broad Station to the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
3. During rush hour, M&E passengers will NOT BE ABLE TO TRANSFER to Montclair direct lines into Penn Station. The rush hour Montclair direct trains to NYC will not stop at Newark Broad.
4. During other times, M&E passengers will be able to transfer to Montclair direct lines into Penn Station. Those trains now run about once an hour but the schedule could change.
C. Express Bus Service:
Right now, only South Orange will have express bus service in the morning. These buses will go to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. In the evening the bus will run express to the Irvington Bus Terminal and then local from Irvington to the South Orange train station.
A request was made by Maplewood and other towns for express bus service. This request is still being evaluated but chances are not good for a number of reasons, including capacity issues in the Port Authority Bus Terminal, evening traffic patterns and bus availability.
A request also was made to consider express buses to Newark Penn so commuters can connect with NYC direct trains. This is being considered.
5. Other Items:
A. Timing – July rail tickets are going to be available June 19 so all the decisions need to be made and implemented by then. Construction starts impacting M&E trains on Monday, July 10.
B. Tickets – Passengers to NYC will be told to purchase Hoboken rail tickets, which will be discounted between 50% and 60%. The Hoboken tickets will be valid for NYC direct train travel the first week in July. The Hoboken tickets will be valid for NYC direct train travel on weekends.
C. Discounted tickets will be for monthly and weekly passes and single tickets.
D. Cross honoring – Starting July 10 the Hoboken tickets will be cross honored by NJT buses, the PATH and NY Waterway Ferries. You can mix and match your type of travel – for example - train and ferry in a.m. and PATH in p.m.
E. PATH cross honoring – The current plan is to cross honor at Hoboken, 33rd and World Trade Center. We requested cross honoring at all stations – Christopher, 9th, 14th, and 23rd – during evening rush hour. Transit agreed to try to work out this arrangement but said there are significant logistical issues involved. We will know more in the near future.
F. NJ Transit has rolled out a new app to provide service alerts.
G. NJ Transit will initiate a comprehensive pubic information campaign and set up a special website for the construction period.
I can assure you that the Maplewood Township Committee and South Orange Village President and Board of Trustees will continue to join with other elected officials in continuing to advocate for additional service and travel options for commuters in our two communities.