NJ Transit rebuffs mayors, sticks to train diversion plan

Mayors representing towns on the Morris & Essex lines said they came away "disappointed" from a meeting with NJ Transit officials about plans to divert those trains to Hoboken when Amtrak starts track work in Penn Station New York next month.

"We made a strong push on sharing the burden and equity (across all rail lines)," Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca said after Wednesday afternoon meeting. "They are pretty locked into the diversion of all the M&E trains to Hoboken."

De Luca and municipal officials from  South Orange, East Orange, Orange, Summit, Chatham, Livingston, Westfield and other towns were joined at the meeting by Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Morris-Essex, and State Senator Thomas Kean, R-Union.

NJ Transit plans to divert M&E trains to Hoboken between July 10 and Sept. 1, when Amtrak is scheduled to shut down at least three track for major work in the wake of track conditions found after derailments in March and April.

Transit officials defended the plan, saying it spares 75 percent of commuters from disruption and said M&E fares will be reduced.

The mayors said they understand that the M&E line "naturally goes to Hoboken," which was its end point before MidTown Direct service to New York was started more than 20 years ago.

"We got our issues out. They understood our concerns. ... We made the case they need to remember real lives will be affected," said De Luca, who was a regular NJ Transit commuter until retiring a year ago. "I think they are struggling with this, but people in our communities will be disrupted."

NJ Transit officials told the mayors that NY Waterway ferries will run every 15 minutes between West 39th Street and Hoboken, De Luca said. Bus service will be offered between the Port Authority bus terminal and train stations at Newark Broad Street, Newark Penn Station, Hoboken and South Orange, he said.

"We asked about (bus service from) other towns, that is not part of their plan," he said. "We're looking to do some other bus service through NJ Transit."

While PATH will honor NJ Transit rail tickets in Hoboken, 33rd Street, New York and at the World Trade Center, the mayor asked for cross honoring at all New York PATH stations, De Luca said. Officials told them that is a logistical issue that would have to be worked out with PATH, he said.

NJ Transit plans to have customer service representatives at M&E station later this month to answer commuter questions and advise them about travel option, De Luca said

 

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