Hundreds of Rockland commuters depend on the New Jersey Transit trains to get to New York City, which is why I am demanding NJT keep express trains on the Pascack Valley Line.
NJT said beginning on June 4th it will cut two of its four express service trains, while workers install Positive Train Control (PTC). We all welcome the instillation of PTC to assist with train safety and save lives, but NJT’s poor planning should not fall on hardworking Rockland commuters. NJT knew since 2008 about the federal mandate to install PTC, but waited until now to do something about it. NJT is the sole rail line connecting Rockland commuters to New York City and a decision like this has no regard for Rockland riders.
Rockland County is also one of the most underserved counties in the region when it comes to rail service in spite of its significant financial contributions. Rockland residents pay taxes and fees to the Metropolitan Transit Authority to finance NJT trains on the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines; however, a 2012 report done by Rockland County says about $42 million more was paid to the MTA than residents got back in services. In my opinion, these express service cuts would not only be disgraceful, but another slap in the face to their paying customers.
I recently sent a letter to Metro North’s President and the Executive Director of NJT, calling on them to rethink their decision. As riders and taxpayers inside the MTA’s jurisdiction, it is vital that the MTA work with NJT to both speedup the process of installing PTC and provide alternatives to riders while work is underway. NJT could offer riders reduced rates, semi-express trains, or express bus service alternatives.
We must continue to put pressure on NJT and the MTA and stand up against these service cuts.