Mayor Thomas Hannen announced today that he has joined a Mayors Task Force of elected officials from 26 towns on the Raritan Valley Line (RVL) to seek one-seat train service into NY Penn Station during peak hours.
The Mayors Task Force, which is part of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC), met recently in Westfield to map out a strategy to get support from Gov. Phil Murphy, Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, Senate and Assembly representatives to fund direct train service. RVRC successfully negotiated morning and evening direct trains but only during weekday off peak hours. “The mayors are united in the effort to get the direct train service our residents deserve," said Mayor Hannen.
The RVRC, established in 1998, and the Mayors Task Force are committed to improving the commute for riders who struggle daily with service interruptions and time-consuming train and platform transfers on the RVL. Martin Robins of Westfield, director emeritus of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, said “eliminating a transfer in Newark could save at least 12 minutes in total commuting time and the worry of missing a connection. That is a significant quality of life issue.”
Mayor Hannen also noted the positive economic effect that direct train service has on a community. In a joint statement from the Task Force Co-Chairs Bound Brook Mayor Robert Fazen, Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle and Mayor Mahr, they noted the impact of reliable, quality transportation is enormous for towns. According to the Regional Plan Association:
- Proximity to high quality transit is associated with increased property values
- Every minute saved on a morning commute to NYC increases nearby home values by $3,000
- Efficient transportation is important to attracting business and employees
The Mayors also stressed the critical importance of the Federal government funding the Gateway Project. “This is important for the RVL and North Jersey’s transportation system overall because the project will provide additional slots in NY Penn Station for Raritan Valley Line trains. Mayors and all elected officials, particularly those with a train station in their community, have a responsibility to speak out and demand safe, reliable and convenient transit. The continuing decline of rail infrastructure causes delays and safety concerns almost on a daily basis and it is no longer acceptable.” The Gateway Project includes construction of two new Hudson River tunnels, rehabilitation of the existing tunnels, additional tracks and platforms at NY Penn Station and the Portal Bridge replacement. Each of these improvements is necessary for a quality transportation system and the economy of this region.
The Mayors Task Force plans a series of meetings with State legislators on improved service on the Raritan Valley Line and funding of the Gateway Project.