We discussed last Friday how the historic Princeton Dinky station is to become a new Terra Momo restaurant. We just learned some news relating to Princeton University’s plan to move the station.
According to The Times of Trenton, Princeton Council heard on Monday night from Princeton University Vice-Chancellor, Bob Durkee, who said that the ‘Dinky’ Station will be 750 feet from its new, final location during construction of the new ‘Arts and Transit’ project. Relocation of the Dinky terminus has long been a part of the plan. When the Arts and Transit project was before the Planning Board, it was widely reported that the required move would be 460 feet. However, a local group (savethedinky.org) that has opposed the move has been reporting for some time that the increase in walking distance required to access the new station would be a minimum of 700 feet, and up to 1100 feet for an ADA-compatible route.
If you click through to the original story, you will find that it’s mostly about a decrease in the Princeton tax rate (hooray!). We’ve quoted the Dinky section below:
Council also heard Monday night that the temporary Dinky train platform open during the construction project would be 750 feet away from the planned location for the new station. To assist commuters, Durkee said, the university would offer a short-loop express bus to the new station.
The new Dinky station will be 460 feet away from the current location when the project is done.
It has been argued that moving the Dinky station 460 feet further south would be a minor inconvenience to pay for the new Arts and Transit project. It is nonetheless disappointing that during construction, Dinky riders will have to travel even further than this to catch the little train. It’s not entirely clear right now where the temporary platform will be, but it seems likely that it will be even further away from the town than the new station. We don’t know how long the ‘temporary’ platform will be in use, or if it will even be possible to access it on foot. Princeton University’s proposal to run a ‘short loop express bus’ to the temporary Dinky station does not make us excited, because it means that if you want to go anywhere from central Princeton by Amtrak or NJ Transit train, you would need to walk to the bus, to catch the Dinky train to get to the real train. This is incentivizing car ownership and traffic, quite the opposite of what we need right now.
Transit options are essential for those of us who want to live a car-free or car-lite, walkable lifestyle. In order for people to use transit, it must be convenient and accessible. If we are going to get serious about enabling people to live car-free, we need to upgrade our transit infrastructure, and sadly, right now we are going in the opposite direction. It is possible that the increased inconvenience of getting to Princeton Junction rail station will increase the popularity of services like Megabus, which now offers direct transit into New York from Palmer Square. By the time the new Dinky station opens, current riders who are put off by the hassle of catching the train may have shifted commuting patterns to skip the Dinky altogether.
* Updated: Planet Princeton has more on this story: the temporary platform will indeed be 1,210 feet south, the proposed shuttle bus will operate between Princeton and Princeton Junction rail station. These arrangements will be in effect through July 2014 at least.
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