New Jersey Transit officials announced Wednesday night that the Dinky train will run again beginning on Friday, May 24.
Train service was originally slated to be restored in mid January. But NJ Transit officials said the agency needed the Dinky train equipment and engineers for other train lines because the agency hds a shortage of engineers.
On Feb. 19, about 80 people packed into the Dinky station to discuss their concerns about the restoration of Dinky train service with New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. The commissioner told the crowd she is fond of the Dinky, and that she used to bring her son to ride the train when he was little about 20 years ago. She said that stopping the Dinky was part of a “global solution” to the “mess” the Murphy administration inherited from the Christie administration. . She also claimed there is “no sinister plot” to kill the Dinky and that NJ Transit is focusing on restoring service in the second quarter. She told commuters to “keep the faith” in her long-term plan to restore mass transit.
Commuters complained at the meeting about poor communication from NJ Transit, and officials said the agency was admonished about the issue by the governor.
Some commuters said the replacement buses that will be in place until the Dinky returns should be coordinated with the train schedules better, especially for late trains.
One commuter told the commissioner that Dinky ridership has never returned to 2013 levels, and that every time the Dinky goes down like it has these last four months, the train loses ridership.
Officials said the first class of new train engineers will graduate in April, but since September other engineers have retired. NJ Transit officials said the agency was ramping up the classes so engineers would be ready in 12 to 16 months. In April, NJ Transit still won’t have enough engineers. Asked at the meeting how NJ Transit train engineer salaries compare with other agencies, officials did not have that information on hand. At the Feb. 19 meeting, officials did not offer a restoration date at the time. Last week, NJ Transit announced that a restoration date would be announced in three weeks. This week, a spokesman said the restoration date would be announced by the end of this week.
Citizen journalists who attended the Feb. 19 meeting contributed to this report.