The recent report from NJ Transit (NJT) on the Princeton Transitway Study is welcome news for our immediate regional area. If this project were not to continue advancing, we are bound to lose this treasured piece of infrastructure in operation for over 150 years and, apparently, the shortest rail line in the world.
Because of the obsolescence of the equipment in use (45-year-old Arrow III rail cars), the question is not “if” but “how and when.”
The Princeton-West Windsor area forms a vibrant, growing, diverse enclave that would greatly benefit from the development of this public transit axis to improve mobility and cohesion within our region, and our connectivity to the Northeast rail line. Residents and stakeholders should rally behind this project and be involved in guiding its eventual outcome. There is an online petition in support of this project at bit.ly/DinkyPetition which I encourage readers to support.
The NJT process has considered community input but could have done a much better job in its outreach and been more inclusive. Hopefully, that will be corrected going forward. NJT’s analysis has looked at technological, environmental, costs-benefits, ridership patterns, and equity factors in assessing various alternatives.
The final choice came down to a mixed-use option that combines the advantages and convenience of a light rail line with an expansion into the core of Princeton (and possibly into West Windsor at the other end), through a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route, along with a safe side path to bike and pedestrian traffic. This also happens to be the first choice among respondents to two public surveys of riders and community stakeholders in 2021.
This option is expected to provide the highest service frequency (every 6-10 minutes), significantly enhanced mobility, connectivity to other public transit, and will reduce our reliance on automobiles, while creating low environmental impacts and minor right-of-way issues.
Some skeptics have questioned this proposal as an attempt to eventually replace the existing rail service with an extended bus line. The best way to ensure that the future Dinky Corridor becomes the best public transit link it can be for our community is if residents and stakeholders engage in the process, and do so in a positive, constructive way.
For these reasons, I call on our local municipal planners and elected officials to make sure that the Dinky Corridor is part of any long-range plans, such as the new Princeton Master Plan, by clearly identifying the Dinky Corridor as part of the context of our regional mobility, housing, and economic development planning.
As an area resident for close to four decades, and as a senior citizen, I am hoping that with any luck, the new Dinky Corridor will become a reality in my lifetime.