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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Calls Made to Revive Lower Boonton Line


Newark, New Jersey: Rail service has not operated along the former NJ Transit Boonton Line from Montclair through Newark and the Meadowlands to Hoboken Terminal in over 10 years. However, a New Jersey student is hoping to change that. Michael Meloro, Jr., of Hunterdon County, said that he is interested in having a train operate along the former Lower Boonton Line from Glen Ridge or Bloomfield to Hoboken Terminal. The train would make several stops, including one in Newark's North Ward, along the way. Meloro started a website, EssexMetroRevitalization.com, to share his ideas. 

Meloro told Essex County Place that he got the idea after looking at a map from 1999 and noticing the stations on the former Boonton Line. 

"I realized how important a reinstated transportation system would be to the area", Meloro said.

In 2002, the lower part of the Boonton Line that stretched Montclair to Hoboken was closed after a new rail link opened, connecting the former Montclair Branch between Bay Street Station in Montclair and Newark Broad Street Station to the Boonton Line near Walnut Street Station. This formed the current Montclair-Boonton Line. The former Lower Boonton Line has not been used for commuter rail service since that time, when NJ Transit's Executive Director said that reopening the line would be too expensive.

"This is the first I've heard in over 10 years that anyone has even mentioned running service there", said David Peter Alan of the Lackawanna Coalition Transit Advocates.

Alan said that a proposal had been made shortly after the line was closed for an independent service to be operated along the line. However, according to Alan, it was given "tremendous opposition" by NJ Transit. 

"The problem (with a new service) is it would cost money and New Jersey Transit is short of money", Alan told Essex County Place, saying that "the biggest service expansion that they need right now is to make the Montclair-Boonton Line a full time service line all the way out to Denville and Dover". 

No eastbound trains leave the station in Denville, Morris County after 9:02am and no westbound trains leave the station at Montclair State University in Passaic County before 2:46pm. 

Alan suggested other ideas, including increasing midway service on the Morris and Essex Lines and adding hourly weekend service on the Montclair-Boonton Line. He said that it is "unacceptable" that Montclair-Boonton Line rail service only operates to the Bay Street Station on weekends.

"Right now what they (NJ Transit) need to do for Essex County is bring back some service they used to have before they start thinking about putting service in new places", said Alan.

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