Generally, when people are approached by a stranger with a clipboard, the answer is “no” without breaking stride. But on Tuesday, June 18, at the Raritan Valley Line (RVL) Mayors’ Alliance rally held at Newark Penn Station, passengers eagerly lined up to sign the petition and advocate for one-seat ride service into New York Penn. The frustration level was evident as commuters added their names just before running up the stairs to Track 5, hoping not to miss their connecting train.
The RVL is one of the fastest growing train lines in New Jersey, and ridership has outpaced that of other lines. Yet since acquiring dual locomotives in 2013, NJ Transit has not granted the RVL a single peak one-seat ride into NY Penn. For a short time, riders did have direct off-peak trains to New York but that was suspended last September, the same month as Atlantic City’s Rail line service. However, on May 12, the AC rail service was reinstated while there is still no word for RVL riders.
As a candidate for Town Council and someone who has been commuting into NYC for decades, I understand firsthand the detrimental impact on commuters’ quality of life. RVL passengers are forced to switch trains and platforms in Newark significantly lengthening their already hour-long commute. As a result, many commuters arrive to work late in the morning and miss out on family commitments in the evening.
More than just a quality of life issue, a peak one-seat ride would allow RVL towns to compete equally for residential and commercial investment and enhance current redevelopment efforts already in progress. A peak one-seat ride would enable employers to attract younger, skilled talent from Manhattan ultimately increasing property values in all Raritan Valley Line municipalities.
This is why I joined Mayor Shelley Brindle, dozens of volunteers and hundreds of commuters at the Newark rally. We need to build momentum and create public pressure demanding NJ Transit to act fairly and equitably. I applaud the RVL Mayors’ Alliance for hosting this rally and will continue to support their efforts to bring resolution to this critical issue.