At the Rartian Valley Railway Coalition (RVRC) meeting held in Westfield yesterday morning, RVRC provided an update on the One-Seat Ride to New York City. The major news was the confirmation that evening One-Seat Ride service, where commuters need not change in Newark Penn Station to get to Manhattan, is scheduled for November of this year, with more details to come in September. RVRC Chairman Peter Palmer also stated that One-Seat Ride during the weekends is being forecast to commence in the Fall of 2015; the delay in implementing this third phase is due to ongoing track work in Manhattan. The end-all goal is to have rush hour One-Seat Ride for the Raritan Valley Line (RVL).
“Our ultimate objective is a fair share of peak [hour] One-Seat service which represents our 10% share of total ridership on NJ Transit lines,” Mr. Palmer said, re-iterating the goal of RVRC. He also touched upon the reality to NJ Transit, “Any expansion of service comes at a cost. Primarily for requiring additional train crews . . .Obviously, when considering anything from us or anybody else, they [NJ Transit] have to look at the cost that its going generate and, hopefully, to what extent it can be offset with increased revenue.”
Mr. Palmer noted that the dual-mode engines are reporting no problems in and out of Manhattan and the last four engines that were damaged by Superstorm/Hurricane Sandy are almost repaired and should be in service soon.
Another topic of discussion was the use of social media to make commuters, legislators, NJ Transit, and communities aware of the progress and efforts of One-Seat Ride. RVRC Vice-Chair Tom Jardim emphasized the significance of social media by stating, “I hope it’s understood by everybody in this room and beyond these walls that there has been no expressed commitment, as far as I know, that New Jersey Transit is going to give us a One-Seat Ride during peak periods. So I would ask you not to get complacent about our efforts to put the word out there and to get commuters and keep commuters motivated.”
The need for communications through their website, Facebook, Twitter and other online service was crystalized whem Mr. Jardim remarked, “Although Transit has said all the right things to us and sort of implied to us that that’s happening down the road, there has been no commitment by Transit for that yet and it’s going to take a push by us to get that over the hill. You can’t do that without social media and commuter involvement.”
Mr. Palmer added, “The more impact social media has, [the more] this will get through to our legislators.”
The meeting also had a presentation from Kathleen Miller Prunty, the Director of Cranford’s Downtown Business & Economic Development Office which represents Cranford’s Special Improvement District (SID). Ms. Miller Prunty provided information on the Township’s Transit Oriented Development (TOD) since 2003, when it was designated a ‘Transit Village’ by the State of New Jersey. ‘Transit Village’ status allows Cranford to benefit from priority funding as well as technical assistance from some state agencies, grants from the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT), and coordination among the state agencies that make up the Transit Village Task Force. Over the last 11 years, Cranford has completed four (4) TOD projects with one, Woodmont Station at Cranford which holds 163 ‘luxury’ units, currently under construction.
Roselle Park Fifth Ward Councilman Michael Yakubov was in attendance as an observer. After the meeting, referring to the impact and potential One-Seat Ride will have on the Borough, he commented, “For Roselle Park, we have a unique opportunity to work with the Ryan family to develop along the train station and attract younger buyers who are willing to invest in Roselle Park. The opportunity is particularly prime now as there are plans by NJ Transit to upgrade our train station and to make it a more suitable environment for our growing commuter population. I think it will be critical in the next several years for Roselle Park to take advantage of the benefits of the One-Seat Ride initiative that increases property values, attracts new commuters, and will – most importantly – help generate new revenue streams to begin to offset property taxes. ”