The original Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Project started with a semblance of consensus but ended its 15-year life in controversy. Its replacement, Gateway, was proposed in February 2011, and has been surrounded by controversy for the entire eight years of its life, so far. The politicians and planners who are pushing the program consider it inevitable, just as they considered the now-defunct ARC Project inevitable almost until the day it was killed in 2010.
Author: David Peter Alan
There is no dispute that the proliferation and popularity of light rail and streetcars has been the great success story on the North American transit scene since the 1980s. Forty years ago, only seven American cities and Toronto in Canada retained even a single streetcar line that survived from the “golden age” of rail transit. Today there are dozens of lines in the U.S. and Canada, including new starts in their first few months of service.
Anyone connected with the series of passenger rail projects in the New York/New Jersey Metropolitan Area known collectively as Gateway will claim that their eventual completion is inevitable, much like former California Gov. Jerry Brown claimed that completion of the virtually defunct California High-Speed Rail Project was inevitable, or how anti-rail activists like Randal O’Toole claim that the impending demise of passenger trains and rail transit is inevitable. Yet, circumstances have changed in recent years, and new discoveries have led some advocates in the region to doubt the cost-effectiveness, and even the feasibility, of building Gateway as currently proposed.
New Jersey Transit announced Feb. 27 that it will restore service on the Atlantic City Rail Line (ACRL) and the “Dinky”—a short shuttle line between Princeton Junction on Amtrak‘s Northeast Corridor (NEC) and a point close to downtown Princeton—but riders will still have to wait 85 more days to get their trains back.
It’s not much like the high-speed rail lines in Europe, Japan, and China, but locals still refer to it as the “PATCO Speedline” and have done so for the past 50 years. It travels its 14.2-mile route in 27 minutes, which averages slightly less than 32 miles per hour—not bad for local rail transit.
By now, everybody in the rail management and advocacy communities, along with much of the general public, knows what happened to California’s high-speed rail (HSR) project. It’s dead. In his State of the State address, Governor Gavin Newsom scaled it down. Seven days later, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) finished the job with a letter from Administrator Ron Batory to Newsom and California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) CEO Brian P. Kelly.
We are not usually concerned with buses at Railway Age, but what would happen if Greyhound buses suddenly disappeared from American roads, and Amtrak became the only provider of passenger transportation with a nationwide reach? That speculation is not as far-fetched as it would appear at first blush, as a similar scenario is being played out at this writing in much of Canada.
The shutdown of most federal government agencies is over, at least until Feb. 15. Everybody knows that it wreaked havoc on many government workers, who were either laid off for the duration, or forced to work without pay until the entire government came back to life. One question that the general-circulation media did not ask: How did the shutdown affect transit and its users?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo shocked the transit world and almost everybody else by announcing that the planned 15-month shutdown of all service on New York City’s “L” train along 14th Street in Manhattan and into Brooklyn will not happen after all. The news stunned even the most jaded New Yorkers and started a local political fight that is still raging.
New Jersey calls itself “The Crossroads of the Revolution” in its promotional literature and advertisements. Not only was it centrally located during America’s War for Independence, but its troops under George Washington were tested against both the heat and the British at the Battle of Monmouth in June, 1778 and against the coldest winter of the century, 1779-80, at Morristown. Both times, and on other occasions, it met the challenges and went on to help establish our nation.