On March 12, 2015, NJ State Senators Raymond Lesniak (D-Union) and Nicholas Sacco (D-Bergen/Hudson) introduced legislation to modify the existing structure of the NJ Transit Board of Directors. Currently, there are seven voting members and a single non-voting member that was added to the NJ Transit Board several years ago with the intent of providing representation for the public.

Legislative Bill S-2804 includes language that would expand the NJ Transit Board to ten members, nine of which will have voting authority. News reports online indicate that the bill may be amended to also provide voting authority for the existing non-voting member. Another provision of the Bill includes the requirement that members selected to represent the public must be NJ Transit commuters. The related NJ State Assembly Bill, A-4303, was introduced by Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) and Assemblywoman Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D-Hunterdon/Mercer)

More recently, Senator Lesniak has created an online petition asking residents to support Bill S-2804 via the website Give Commuters a Voice. All New Jersey residents are encouraged to sign the petition as a way to demonstate support for greater transparency and accountability from the NJ Transit Board of Directors.

Papal Visit to Impact Regional Transit

City of Philadelphia – Office of the Mayor, June 16, 2015

Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City and agency officials announced preliminary information about public transportation options during the World Meeting of Families convening, September 22-25, 2015, and the weekend of the Papal Visit, September 26-27, 2015.

With more than 1.5 million people expected for the Papal Visit on Saturday and Sunday, and substantial crowds for the World Meeting of Families convening during the week, it is critical for visitors and residents to understand the logistics involved in getting into Center City Philadelphia. Travelers should keep in mind:
•Be prepared to walk to your destination after debarking transit—up to a couple of miles
•Private vehicles will not be a viable transportation option
•Public transportation routes and schedules will be vastly altered for efficiency and capacity
•Continue to check for transportation updates and sign up to receive the Papal Visit Playbook, a guide for residents and visitors to navigate Center City neighborhoods during the event.

Information about the modification of transit service throughout the Delaware Valley can be found at this link: Papal Visit Transit Information

Northeast Corridor service to be restored Monday morning

At 5:30 p.m. this afternoon, Amtrak announced the restoration of service between Philadelphia and New York. As stated on the Amtrak website, “Effective with departures from Philadelphia at 5:53 a.m. (Train 110) and New York at 5:30 a.m. (Train 111), all Amtrak Acela, Northeast Regional and other services resume.”

SEPTA has also announced the resumption of service with some modifications. As stated on the SEPTA website, “Trenton service will resume tomorrow AM (5/18) with no service to North Philadelphia, Bridesburg and Tacony stations. Delays are expected.”

The restoration comes following an announcement late last week that service would not resume until Tuesday. Amtrak and contractor personnel have been working around the clock to repair the damage sustained during the derailment. NJ Transit restored service to 30th Street Station on Friday, May 15th.

Amtrak Derailment in Philadelphia

On Tuesday May 12th, at approximately 9:20 PM local time, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train #188 derailed at the curve east of Frankford Junction while enroute to New York City, resulting in the death of 8 and injuring approximately 200 according to news outlets. During a press conference late this afternoon, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesperson Robert Sumwalt stated that preliminary data extracted from the locomotive event recorder indicates that the train was traveling at approximately 106 Miles per Hour as it approached the curve. The approach speed limit is 80 MPH, and the speed limit through the curve is 50 MPH.

Due to NTSB investigation activity and the damage resulting from the derailment, rail service through the affected area is suspended indefinitely, pending Amtrak repairs. This includes Amtrak, the SEPTA Trenton Line, and the NJ Transit Atlantic City Rail Line west of Cherry Hill Station.

This PlanPhilly article: How to go around the Northeast Corridor shutdown after the Frankford Junction derailment provides a comprehensive list of transit alternatives between Trenton and Philadelphia to bypass the affected area.

SEPTA is offering additional trains on the West Trenton Line, which is accessible via special NJ Transit shuttle bus from the Trenton Transportation Center. There is no fare for the special NJ Transit Shuttle but customers must present a valid SEPTA or Amtrak fare to ride.

Atlantic City Rail Line riders can access PATCO at Lindenwold or temporary bus shuttles operating between Cherry Hill and Philadelphia 30th Street Station. NJ Transit is currently cross-honoring Amtrak and SEPTA Regional Rail Division tickets on the Southern Division bus routes and the River Line. Amtrak tickets only are being cross-honored on NJ Transit NEC trains between Trenton and New York City.

PATCO is currently cross-honoring tickets for Amtrak and the NJ Transit Atlantic City Rail Line.

DVARP extends sympathy to the injured, and condolences to the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one.

DVARP would also like to thank the many participants assisting in the rescue operation. The efforts and professionalism of the first responders is appreciated.

Public Hearings / NJ Transit Fare & Service Proposal

NJ TRANSIT will hold nine scheduled public hearings and one information session beginning Saturday, May 16, 2015 to allow the public the opportunity to learn more about the proposed fare increases and service changes and offer comments before the plan is considered by the Board of Directors on July 8, 2015.

The proposed service and fare changes would take effect in September 2015 and on October 1, 2015, respectively. The proposed fare adjustment would be an average of 9 percent for the majority of NJ TRANSIT customers.

The dates and times of meeting locations most convenient to residents of southern New Jersey include:

DATE: Monday, May 18, 2015
TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Atlantic City Rail Terminal – Lobby
One Atlantic City Expressway, Atlantic City, NJ

DATE: Tuesday, May 19, 2015
TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Camden City Hall – Council Chambers (Floor 2)
520 Market Street, Camden, NJ

DATE: Thursday, May 21, 2015
TIME: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Trenton Transit Center
72 South Clinton Avenue, Trenton, NJ

For more hearing schedule information, go to the NJ TRANSIT Press Release webpage.

For more information on fare and service restructuring, go to the NJ TRANSIT Fare and Service Proposal webpage.

30th Street Station District Plan Meeting

Amtrak, Drexel and their partners in the Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan will host an open house this month to introduce the project to the public and solicit community input. The event is an opportunity for interested parties to learn about the project, meet the team, ask questions and provide input. The open house will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 28 on the main concourse at 30th Street Station from 4-7 p.m. There will be no formal presentation, but members of the project team will be on hand to answer questions and provide information.

The public is also invited to learn about the project by logging onto the recently-launched website, PhillyDistrict30. Here visitors can get the latest project information, sign up to receive project updates via e-mail, review news coverage and more.

The Philadelphia 30th Street Station District Plan is a joint planning effort focused on creating a single integrated vision for the area surrounding 30th Street Station. The goals of the plan center on concepts of community, connectivity and identity.

The effort is led by Amtrak, Brandywine Realty Trust, Drexel University and SEPTA with support from a coordinating committee that includes a wide range of public and private agencies, area stakeholders and other interested parties.

(Courtesy: Drexel University)

NEC Future meeting schedule

NEC Future is a program of the Federal Railroad Administration. As stated online, “NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), from Washington, D.C. to Boston. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched NEC FUTURE in February 2012 to consider the role of rail passenger service in the context of current and future transportation demands. Through the NEC FUTURE program, the FRA will determine a long-term vision and investment program for the NEC, and provide a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2016 in support of that vision.”

This link – Open House Meetings, November 2014 – provides information about the schedule of upcoming meetings.

Tenetative aggreement reached between SEPTA and TWU 234

Media sources report that contract negotiations between SEPTA and TWU Local 234 have concluded with a tentative agreement reached late in the evening of Friday, October 31st. The pace of progress in the negotiations increased after the intercession of several power brokers occured, including Congressman Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia), who has been involved with past SEPTA-TWU negotiations. A ratification vote by TWU membership is expected to take place during the first full week of November.

As reported, the contract duration is two years, and leaves many of the larger issues (i.e. pension reform) unaddressed. Therefore, Transit Division riders may face the potential of another strike in 2016.