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This article was prepared for the January 16, 2002 edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Riding the Rails, More Than Ever

NJ Transit experienced a decade’s worth of ridership

growth in one day. After the terror attacks of September 11, some

36,000 jobs moved from downtown to midtown, single occupancy vehicles

were banned from the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels during the morning

rush hour, spot checks of trucks and car trunks slowed traffic flow

into the city, and street closings in lower Manhattan backed up cars

all around town.

Commuters who had clung to the independence of traveling into New

York by car for decades gave up. So many switched to the rails that

NJ Transit trains took on the look of Tokyo subways, with an average

of 25,000 people a day standing in the aisles.

In response, NJ Transit is adding seats. It is also citing the effects

of September 11 to justify fare increases. "This is not a cleanup

from a hurricane," NJ Transit Executive Director Jeffrey Warsh

has been quoted as saying. "The world has changed. With that has

come the need for increased resources to deal with not only increased

passenger loads, but security, which is a major driving factor."

A new train schedule took effect on Sunday, September 13. A final

version of the fare increase was announced by the NJ Transit Board

of Directors on Monday, January 7. The new fares kick in on Monday,

April 1.

Good news for Princeton commuters is that a new train, 3867, will

leave New York at 6:11 p.m. After stopping at Newark Penn Station,

it will stop only at New Brunswick before resuming local stops through

to Trenton. The current 6:11 p.m. train, 3869, will now leave New

York at 6:14 p.m. and make an additional stop at Newark International

Airport Station, the new plane-to-the-train connection.

The 6:20 p.m. train from New York has been dropped from the new

schedule

because of low ridership.

During the morning rush hour, a number of trains will depart for New

York five minutes earlier than they did in the previous schedule.

Among the new times for NJ Transit trains — from Princeton

Junction

— are 5:31 a.m., 5:54 a.m., 6:12 a.m., 6:57 a.m., and 7:03 a.m.

These trains depart from Hamilton about seven minutes earlier, and

from Trenton about 14 minutes earlier.

Train 3822, which departs Trenton at 6:57 a.m., will not stop at

Princeton

Junction. Passengers, instead, can use Amtrak Clocker train 624, which

stops at 7:16 a.m. and operates express between MetroPark and Newark.

Train 3824, which had departed from Trenton at 7:16 a.m. will now

depart at 7:12 a.m., and stop at Princeton Junction at 7:25 a.m.

The fare increase, the first since 1991, will raise ticket costs by

an average of 10 percent. A monthly commuter ticket from Princeton

Junction to New York is now $249. A student monthly ticket is $186.50.

A 10-trip is $89, and a weekly is $76. Under the new fare plan, there

will be refunds for unused portions of monthly, weekly, and 10-trip

tickets.

As a result of tightened security, it is no longer possible to

purchase

tickets on Amtrak trains. Tickets can be purchased on NJ Transit

trains,

but under the new fare plan, the penalty for doing so — rather

than buying a ticket at the station — is going up from $3 to $5.

NJ Transit’s operating expenses have risen 67 percent since its last

fare hike 12 years ago. A Rutgers University report, released in

November,

said the agency’s operating deficit grew 89 percent over the last

decade, from $300 million in fiscal year 1991 to $569 million in 2001.

In addition to propping up its budget, the money raised by the fare

increases is expected to go, in part, for more rolling stock,

including

bi-level trains.

For More Details

More information on the new schedule and on the fare changes

is available on the Internet at www.njtransit.com and by phone at

800-772-2222 between 6 a.m. and midnight from North Jersey and at

973-762-5100 from out of state. The South Jersey number, staffed from

6 a.m. to 10 p.m., is 800-582-5946. From Pennsylvania, call

215-569-3752.

The number for the hearing impaired is 800-772-2287.


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