Sign the Petition for a Single Seat Train Ride to NYC
Wednesday, September 11, 2013 • 11:04pm
Westfield Needs Peak Time One – Seat Direct Train Service to Manhattan
Last month NJ Transit and our Mayor announced with a bit of fanfare that in the Spring Westfield will be getting a pilot program one-seat non-peak direct train to Manhattan.
This is plainly not enough. And it should not be limited to a pilot project.
The Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, a non-partisan group of mayors and others, has been fighting for 15 years to get direct train service to Manhattan. Westfield hasn’t paid its dues to maintain its membership since 2008. If elected Mayor, I will work relentlessly with the Coalition to achieve direct service for Westfield’s commuters working in the City. There is now no reason, other than politics, why Westfield’s residents cannot get a 35 minute one-seat direct peak time commute to Manhattan in the mornings.
In 2010 Governor Chris Christie cancelled New Jersey’s support for the construction of the ARC Project. ARC included the building of another tunnel under the Hudson River, which would have doubled the number of trains traveling during rush hour to and from Manhattan and thus guaranteeing Westfield meaningful direct train service. While our Mayor had publicly supported ARC, he fell in line and said not one word when the Governor cancelled the project.
The Raritan Valley line is powered by diesel locomotives. Only electric powered engines are allowed through the tunnel. What makes the single non-peak direct service now available to us is the purchase and delivery of dual powered locomotive engines that operate on both diesel fuel and electricity. NJ Transit is purchasing 36 of these dual powered locomotive engines and Westfield deserves better than limited direct off-peak service.
These locomotives were purchased specifically to provide direct service to Manhattan on the non-electrified rail lines like ours. Now that we have the locomotives but no ARC tunnel, we should be treated fairly with respect to the existing train slots into and out of Manhattan. Westfield needs to work with the Coalition and other allies to demand that we get our fair share of direct dual purpose runs through the Hudson tunnel during peak and off-peak times, weekdays as well as weekends.
The ridership on our line justifies two trains per hour during peak weekday commuting times having direct single-seat rides into Manhattan. The benefits from this would flow to all of Westfield’s residents whether they commuted or not. Westfield’s commuters would save time, anxiety and the hassle of having to rush from track to track hoping they can catch the train. All Westfield homeowners will see a benefit through an increase in their property values. The non-partisan Regional Plan Association of New York and New Jersey released a study demonstrating that Raritan Valley Line towns would see a 30 % increase in property values with direct train service.
Martin Robins, a Westfield resident and one of Union County’s three representative to the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition, has asked residents to contact James Weinstein, NJ Transit Chairman; and James Simpson, New Jersey Commissioner of Transportation, to let them know how important the Raritan Valley single seat ride is. To facilitate this effort, I have an electronic petition accessible from my web site which you can sign. To sign the petition please go to www.davehaas4mayor or to my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Davehaas4mayor
We need a Mayor willing to deal with issues affecting Westfield which can only be addressed through active engagement with non-partisan coalitions. Just as I would join Mayors Against Illegal Guns I would have the Town of Westfield join the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition. While I thought it was certainly better late than never to see the Town Council invite the Coalition to address it this past June, one information session and one press release is not the kind of sustained effort Westfield deserves from our town government. I ask for your vote in November.