Citizen group asks New Jersey Transit to reverse decision to shut down Dinky train service for three months

The head of the citizen group Save the Dinky has written a letter to New Jersey Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett asking him to reconsider the decision to shut down Dinky train service for an extended period.

New Jersey Transit officials have said the shutdown is needed for at least three months beginning Oct. 14  to use Dinky equipment and personnel to help with positive train control installation on other parts of the system.

“Dinky service is an economic lifeline for Princeton and the region,” wrote Save the Dinky President Anita Garoniak. “The service that the Princeton Branch performs for commuters, occasional users and students is a critical feature of our community’s commitment to sustainable transit and to support for mobility options that reduce reliance on the automobile. A months long suspension of service will lead to major disruptions for Dinky riders who will be forced to either drive to Princeton Junction or use bus alternatives with longer travel times.”

Garoniak argues that in addition to the immediate effects, the lengthy suspension will likely result in a net loss of ridership, with negative impacts on the environment as former riders abandon mass transit in favor of vehicles

“As you know, ridership has yet to recover from the net 22 percent loss that followed the station relocation,” Graoniak wrote.

More than 500 people have signed an online petition that calls on New Jersey Transit to scrap plans to shut down the Dinky. Passengers were also circulating a petition on the train last week.

“We ask you to listen to your riders and reverse the decision to suspend train service on the Princeton Branch,” Garoniak wrote. “A plan that will inevitably discourage the use of Princeton’s long-standing mass transit link to the Junction is not in the best interests of Princeton or the State, and reflects a shortsighted allocation of public resources.”

A representative from New Jersey Transit has been invited to speak at the Princeton Council’s regular public meeting tonight, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in the main meeting room at 400 Witherspoon Street. The council also will consider a resolution opposing the shutdown.