by Gail Job and Jade Moskovitz
Officials and Montclair residents gathered at Montclair’s Bay Street train station last Sunday for a celebratory event in theme of bringing in weekend service to the townships of Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield.
For many, this brought a wave of relief, “As a freshman, I’m not given the privilege of having a car on campus, so I heavily rely on the train service. With the absence of the train on the weekends, I learned to plan my weekend schedule within the boundaries of the campus,” said Stephanie Addeo, a frequent user of the New Jersey Transit.
Although this is a big step in the right direction for Transit users, there is still no on-campus access to the rail service on the weekends. Unfortunately, the train will not be stopping at the Little Falls or Montclair Heights station, which may serve as an inconvenience to many as well.
“Even though the Bay Street Train is now running on the weekends, it would be far more convenient if trains were to run at campus stations during that time. The Bay Street Line is at least twenty-five minutes from campus, how am I supposed to get there, a cab?” Lyndsey Murtagh said with frustration.
New Jersey Transit was able to extend the Montclair-Booton line’s hours of operation, due to the fact that it did not interfere with their budget. Extending these same hours for the campus rail-service would be accompanied by a price tag that would conflict with that very same budget.
John Leone, senior director of government and community affairs said, “We have always wanted to expand weekend service up to MSU. However, there is a financial impediment to expand the train that far and bring in another crew. We wanted to introduce, at least, this limited service rather than nothing.”
NJ Transit was able to provide the new service to Bay Street without impacting existing train schedules and financial strains on the company. What they did was extend the train running between Newark and Hoboken. They routinely review and conduct analyses on train sets to see where improvement can be made.
“I wish it were more beneficial to Montclair State University. We encourage students to use the trains; the more riders we have, the sooner we will be able to expand to MSU,” Don Zief, chairman of the transportation Aavisory committee said.
NJ Transit Public Relations representative, Penny Basset Hackett believes students can find the new service beneficial. “It’s affordable, convenient and an alternative for students that don’t have a car. It is also environmentally-friendly. Students can take the number 28 bus from Montclair State University to Bay Street to get to the train. And, as a Montclair resident, I am very pleased.”
With the state of the economy, college students, especially, are not looking to dig further into their pockets for cab money in order to pay for a train. Students without cars on campus face a never ending battle of transportation, despite New Jersey Transit’s efforts to raise convenience.
On a lighter note, for those that have the luxury of having a car or alternate transportation for the ten or fifteen minute commute over to Bay Street, the weekend train run is a definite plus. Many students plan on taking full advantage of the new train schedule.
“I am thrilled about this service. It’s a first step, and hopefully, they can expand to MSU soon enough. I usually have my car on campus, so I wouldn’t mind driving my car and parking it at Bay Street rather than driving into the city,” sophomore Lauren Horn said.