Dinky, Bus Rapid Transit Issues Weighed by New Jersey Transit
As part of its study on Bus Rapid Transit, New Jersey Transit met with representatives of area municipalities and various members of the public for an information session yesterday as part of its study geared to improve regional traffic conditions.
While nothing as drastic as paving over the Dinky tracks for a two-way bus system was addressed, the general consensus reached at the Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit Alternative Analysis Study was that, at the very least, the Dinky service should be improved for the benefit of area transit conditions.
However, Marvin Reed, chairperson of the Master Plan Subcommittee of the Princeton Regional Planning Board warned Transit officials that replacing the Dinky with a second-rate bus system would only create a transportation detriment for the region.
"The Dinky train, as far as it goes, is a good system for getting Princeton residents onto the mainline. Don't substitute a cheap bus system that downgrades what we already have," he said.
The general plan for a BRT system would be to designate a special lane for buses and emergency vehicles along congested corridors. Currently, the Federal Transit Administration is sponsoring the initiative encouraging local agencies to study the system and evaluate its potential success.
Mr. Reed emphasized on improving schedules. In the past, commuters arriving late on the Northeast Corridor have been mystified by an all-too-punctual Dinky that leaves them stranded at Princeton Junction.
The former Princeton Borough mayor recommended that a vehicle be provided "at least" every 10 minutes that connects the Princeton Junction Rail Station with downtown Princeton. He also suggested the elimination of the "current gaps in service that create long waits between connecting trains."
Mr. Reed also called for surrounding municipalities to modify their zoning to promote "high-density" development around future BRT lines.
"Recognize that an expanded BRT system will have little potential to become self-supporting unless such high-density residential development ... can be foreseen."
Mr. Reed compared such development to Princeton's downtown area.
Princeton University, which owns the land through which the Dinky runs on the eastern side of Route 1, has taken a favorable position for the improvement of the Dinky line. In a master plan presentation in March, Robert Durkee, vice president and secretary at the University, indicated the desire to encourage more frequent use.
The information session is the first of several, according to transit officials. A final New Jersey Transit report is expected in January 2005, where municipal and transit representatives will reconvene to look at the feasibility of the study's findings.