Last call for Princeton Dinky line transitway survey

NJ Transit closed out its Princeton Transitway survey on the morning of Dec. 30. As of 10 a.m., the survey was closed down.

One thing is clear from the survey – the bus rapid transit proposal of about a decade ago has been revived and is included in three of the four transit options that are part of the survey. The fourth option is to keep the existing Dinky rail line and the existing stock of rail cars or a similar rail vehicle, but NJ Transit officials have already said in previous posts about the transitway study that the current cars are becoming obsolete and must be replaced. Another option could have been to replace the cars with modern electric train cars or battery-operated train cars that would run on the same tracks, as opposed to similar train cars.

The four survey options:

  • Alternative 1: A roadway with embedded rail that can support both rail and rubber-tired transit vehicles. 
  • Alternative 2: A stand-alone rail corridor with a parallel roadway for rubber-tired tram and/or bus service. 
  • Alternative 3: A roadway with a guideway that could support a rubber-tired tram and buses.
  • Alternative 4: A no build option that continues to use the existing Arrow III cars or similar rail vehicle. No new stations would be considered under this alternative. 

Three of four choices include bus rapid transit and a trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Two of the three options include light rail and bus rapid transit, while one is bus rapid transit only. The buses would run every 10 to 15 minutes, while light rail would run every 15 to 30 minutes or every 30 to 60 minutes. In all three viable options, there would be six stops “in town” and two along the transitway segment the Dinky train currently runs on between the Princeton station on Alexander Street and the main station at Princeton Junction. Princeton University is developing land in Princeton and West Windsor, and more frequent stops could serve the university community. Bus rapid transit that would connect with other bus links in the greater Princeton region was a goal of the bus rapid transit proposal of a decade ago.

An alternative to the existing Dinky line is slated to be chosen by the winter of 2022. It is unclear how the project would be funded.

Dinky train ridership has steadily declined since the old train station on University Place was closed and a new station was built. Supporters of the group Save the Dinky predicted the outcome when they fought and lost a legal battle with Princeton University to keep the train operating out of the former Dinky station location on University Place. Service cuts and mechanical breakdowns have also hurt ridership, in addition to a decline in passengers during the pandemic.

For more information on the Princeton Transitway study, read our previous posts below or visit the NJ Transit Princeton Transitway website.

Related stories:

NJ Transit is conducting a Princeton Transitway study

Princeton alumnus unveils battery-powered train

New Dinky Station opens in Princeton

Dinky service at old location ends today