Wednesday, April 27, 2011

NJ Transit Begins Work On New Wood-Ridge Station

NJ Transit, in conjunction with a real estate project on the former Wright-Curtis engine factory site, is going ahead with a new train station in Wood-Ridge along the Bergen Line. The new station is about 2 miles from the existing Garfield Station that isn't ADA compliant - and is barely functional as a train station. Moreover, the location is south of where it was first planned because the track curves too much to safely handle a raised (high-level) platform.

View Larger Map

The location abuts residential homes that are now affected by the station, and they are complaining about the siting of the new station despite the fact that they've been located adjacent to busy rail traffic for decades.

My concerns about the new station are two-fold.

The new station is in addition to the nearby new Plauderville station and the existing Garfield station and NJ Transit already lacks the ability to fully operate trains on the Bergen Line. The agency cut the schedule last year and the construction of a new station will require additional operating costs that the agency can't handle. It couldn't maintain its existing schedule and cut trains to existing stations, but now expects to bring stops to a new station? Rather than eliminating a functionally obsolete station in Garfield, the agency will operate local service to still more stations, increasing the commute time for all involved.

Garfield would essentially become obsolete because two new stations are under construction within 2 miles of either side of the existing stop. Plauderville is getting a new high level platform station adjacent to its new parking lot, and the Wood-Ridge stop (Wesmont) would have a similar setup.

Additional stops mean that local trains will run more slowly and affect traffic up and down the Bergen Line. It will extend the commuting time of existing commuters, and while the new project is expected to bring new riders as part of a transit-village style setup, the fact is that NJ Transit can't afford to build new stations when existing stations are falling apart or are barely functional.

Garfield is a prime example, and now NJ Transit will essentially maintain three stations in the Garfield corridor when the ridership can't sustain that kind of move unless NJ Transit shutters the Garfield station to optimize its operations.

Don't expect that to happen, even though the Garfield corridor is frequently the site of trespasser accidents and fatalities because the track curves several times and has numerous grade-crossings. Eliminating the Garfield station would improve safety along the corridor and improve commutes for residents.

This follows a trend of NJ Transit building new stations (or overbuilding stations where demand is seriously lacking) where residents are not indicating a need, and then lacking the revenues to fully operate scheduled train service where it was needed.

No comments: