WESTFIELD, NJ – Martin Robins, Director Emeritus of the Alan Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University and long-time Westfield resident, was the guest speaker at the Anne and Lee Hale Speaker Series Wednesday evening at the Westfield Library, with a presentation entitled “The Quest for New York Direct”.

Robins is a Trustee of The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC), a bipartisan non profit organization organized fifteen years ago to advocate for the Raritan Valley Line in general and to fight for a “one-seat” ride in particular.

Robins explained the lengthy history of the Raritan Valley rail corridor’s quest for a one-seat ride into New York Penn Station, the stakes involved in that quest, the special opportunity that now presents itself, and what citizens of the Raritan Valley corridor can do to “push” this concept along.

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“The special opportunity is that NJ Transit has purchased dual locomotives which now make it possible for a train on the Raritan Valley Line to go all the way into New York,” said Robins.  “The issue is getting NJ Transit to see this as a priority and allocate the dual locomotives to our line on weekends and in the weekday peak periods.    

Robins pointed out that the Raritan Valley Line was the only line with current track access to New York that did not have a direct train into Manhattan, and that not having to change in Newark went far beyond mere convenience, as evidenced by the research done on the Morris & Essex Lines when they  achieved direct access.

Using this research about the introduction of Midtown Direct, Robins showed that for homes within walking distance of the Morris & Essex lines, the combination of a 23-minute time savings and the elimination of the Hoboken transfer to PATH’s 33rd Street line increased home values by $90,000 more than for homes considerably farther away.

Robins concluded that the “here and now” opportunity for at least partial access to a “one seat” ride “is NJ TRANSIT’s imminent deployment of the dual-powered locomotives. RVRC is convinced that only by vigorous and sustained “grass roots” advocacy will NJ TRANSIT be convinced to equitably – and with reasonable promptness -- deploy the dual-powered locomotives to the Raritan Valley Line for all service categories.”

Anyone who would like to get involved with RVRC’s efforts should send an e-mail to raritanvalleyline@gmail.com  The group will be launching a website by the end of September that will present the full history of the “one seat” ride concept and frustrations in achieving it and an outline of actions that can be taken as part of the “grass roots” effort.