A spokeswoman from NJ Transit announced on Thursday night that the agency has narrowed the field of potential options in its ‘Princeton Transitway’ study. The study aims to identify ways to improve transit along the Princeton ‘Dinky’ rail corridor. Whereas four potential options were being considered previously (see full story at walkableprinceton.com), NJ Transit is now focusing on ‘Alternative 1’ and ‘Alternative 4’.
‘Alternative 1’ would involve replacing the existing train with a modern, electric, light rail service that would run every 15 – 30 mins. In addition, this alternative would have ‘bus rapid transit’ running over the light rail tracks to allow extension of transit service from the Dinky corridor through the central business district of Princeton and on to the Princeton Shopping Center. This bus rapid transit service would run at 10 – 15 min intervals, so that together there would be either train or bus service running along the corridor between Princeton and Princeton Junction every 6 – 10 mins. Alternative 1 would also include new rail stations at Canal Pointe Blvd and near Roszel Road, potentially providing ‘park-and-ride’ facilities for businesses in Princeton, and a new dedicated path for cyclists and pedestrians connecting Princeton and West Windsor. ‘Alternative 4’, which also remains under consideration, is essentially a ‘no-build’ alternative, which would aim to continue service with the existing aging trains.
Alternatives 2 and 3 have been set aside from further consideration. Alternative 2 would have involved a busway running in its own right-of-way, separate from a light rail line. This alternative would have required substantial acquisition of land, which made it substantially more expensive. Alternative 3 was a Bus Rapid Transit-only option, with no rail service. NJ Transit noted that Princeton residents are strongly committed to retaining rail service, so this option was considered inadequate.
Of the remaining options, ridership along the corridor would be expected to increase to around 2,175 daily passenger trips with Alternative 1, and potentially shrink to around 750 daily passenger trips with Alternative 4. Alternative 1 would be more costly, however, with an estimated capital cost of $101 million, versus a cost of just $15 million to try to salvage some more life out of the existing trains with Alternative 4. NJ Transit proposes to “continue to analyze and develop the selected Alternatives” over the next few months, before more refined alternatives will be shared with the public.
More information about the Princeton Transitway study can be found at the NJ Transit website at this link.