Roughly 30 South Jersey residents took a two-hour bus ride to tell NJ Transit’s board members — reopen the Atlantic City rail line.
“It affects economies, it affects families, it affects everything,” said James Rosen of Absecon.
Some of the South Jersey residents shared their commuting struggles.
“You may have noticed it was some difficulty to walk here because of nerve damage in my leg. So not having end-to-end transportation is real major setback for me,” said one resident.
“My husband who is a locomotive engineer since the line was reopened in the late 80s has been forced to work 80 miles from our home. Not only do we have to live separately, we have to pay double to live,” said another resident.
Rosen and his family use the train to commute from Absecon to work in Atlantic City.
“There’s no train. Buses break down. Buses don’t come. The shuttle buses — they yank them because another New Jersey transit bus is broken. I mean, this is the nature of the past what? Six months,” said Rosen.
The line which runs between Atlantic City and Philadelphia was suspended in September in order for NJ Transit to complete federally-mandated positive train control safety enhancements.
Riders were told it would be back early in 2019.
Congressman Jeff Van Drew and the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter to NJ transit expressing “their concern with the continued delays” and urging the board to be transparent on timelines.
“Recently it announced that the Atlantic City rail line would be closed up to more than 5 months. That’s not an inconvenience. That’s a disaster,” said Van Drew to Congress on Feb. 7.
Nick Pittman, a rail advocate, says he started a petition when they announced this closure in August. He says he has around 6,000 signatures.
“Frankly, I don’t think the board does care. It seems South Jersey doesn’t exist,” said Pittman.
NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett says the reasons for the delays include the need to wait for approval for alternative schedules, dealing with locomotive engineer shortages, and a temporary equipment backlog.
“We very much feel their pain. You know, we certainly would have liked to have it open in January or February, and we’re doing everything to open it. But we would not have invested millions of dollars in the line, you know, to not have it reopen. So as soon as we can we will, As soon as we get a definite date out, we’ll do that as well,” Corbett said.
Corbett says they plan to have the line reopened by the second quarter.