South Orange Not Giving Up on Train Schedule Changes
Saturday, October 27, 2012 • 9:34am
UPDATE: SOUTH ORANGE – Village officials are still working with county officials and state legislators, hoping to find a way to restore evening express train service to South Orange, the village president said.
In an email to The Alternative Press of South Orange, Village President Alex Torpey said, “We hope there are some better solutions that we can help NJ Transit find to help alleviate the burdens these recent changes have had on our commuters.”
NJ Transit informed municipal officials and commuters on Friday that it will not make any immediate changes to the evening rush-hour train schedule for South Orange, despite a petition with more than 1,000 signatures and efforts of municipal and state officials.
South Orange resident Scott Greenstone launched a petition for restoration of express train service between 5-8 p.m. after the schedule was altered on Oct. 14.
On Friday, Paul Wyckoff, spokesman for NJ Transit, responded to the Scott Greenstone’s petition with a letter stating that no changes to service can be made at this time. Wyckoff said NJ Transit will continue to study South Orange train service, but if a solution is found, it would not be implemented until 2013.
Greenstone said that was an unreasonable amount of time to wait for a resolution to the issue with train service.
“I was surprised when I read the email from Paul Wyckoff,” Greenstone said. “I was confident that they would add at least one more train line to help South Orange.”
In his letter to Torpey and Greenstone, Wyckoff stated: “We added a ninth car to the 6:19 beginning last night to ease overcrowding, particularly between Penn NY and Secaucus. The feedback we’ve gotten from customers is that this helped ease the congestion on board the train.”
However, Greenstone said he believes the trains are still overcrowded. Greenstone commutes to and from New York Penn Station during the week. “Since we only have two modern double-decker trains (between 5-8 p.m.), the diesel trains seem to be more crowded with a lot of standing,” he said.
The letter from NJ Transit noted that it is not a simple fix to add South Orange as a stop for an existing express train because it would affect trains that follow.
At Monday’s South Orange Board of Trustees meeting, Wyckoff and Tom Morgan, senior director of rail service planning, explained the process of train scheduling. “It’s almost like a Rubik’s Cube,” he said at the meeting. (Read more about that meeting here.)
South Orange is one of the first municipalities to be designated as a transit village in New Jersey. When the Midtown Direct trains were introduced, South Orange was advertised as being only a 30-minute train ride into New York City.
“Families looking to relocate to a commuter-friendly village are looking elsewhere, negatively affecting South Orange property values,” the petition states. “South Orange has deeply invested in the success of our train station, only to be left in the cold with recent service reductions.”