December 5, 2012

University Proposes to “Privatize” Dinky, Planning Board Should Reject Transit Plan

To the Editor:

I have lived in this community for 36 years. I frequently drive on Alexander Road to get to Route One, and I either walk to the Dinky or drive to the Dinky for travel to trains on the Northeast Corridor. I believe that public transportation is a public right, that our train link to Princeton Junction is a public good, and that our public streets should be managed for the benefit of everyone, not for a small (and privileged) subset of our population.

For these reasons, I urge this Planning Board to reject the transit portions of the University’s site plan. The proposal to move the Princeton Branch station stop south and away from town is indefensible. It will make our train link to the Junction less convenient for all of us who use it, whether we walk or bike there, whether we drive and park, or whether someone drops us off. Worse, the plan will essentially privatize our train station. For over a century we have had easy access to the Dinky from public streets. We have not had to rely on special permissions or easements from a private corporation for our ability to get to the train. The University’s plan proposes to change all of that.

To reach the train, we will have to go through University land to the service sector of the campus. It will be harder to get there, and the challenges will be much harder for those who are elderly or disabled. It will be less safe to walk from there at night. The University proposes to respond to the inconvenience by providing more gas-fueled shuttle service. This is an insult to anyone who cares about environmental responsibility. Instead of moving a mass transit stop to facilitate commuter car access to a parking garage, the University should encourage car pooling and other methods to cut down on auto use.

This proposal cannot be justified by any sound public policy reasons. It is not in the best interests of our community. A University that purports to teach international diplomacy should begin at home by ending its campaign to diminish our rights to public transportation.

Mary Ellen Marino

Hornor Lane