State Sen. Chris Brown called the planned shutdown of the NJ Transit Atlantic City Rail Line “unfair” to Atlantic County residents and asked why the state agency can’t keep the train running on a morning and evening commute schedule.
Brown, R-Atlantic, pointed to the fact that the train remained operational in the morning and evening between April and June this year when NJ Transit performed track and signal repairs, and added that residents will now have to make a longer commute if they choose to take the bus.
“Those traveling from Atlantic County have to take the nonexpress No. 554 Bus, extending commutes up to two hours, without access to a restroom,” Brown said. “If there are legitimate safety reasons why NJ Transit cannot run rail service in the morning and in the evening, then I believe it is only appropriate NJ Transit provides express bus service from the Atlantic City, Absecon, Egg Harbor City, Hammonton, and Atco train stations, particularly during the morning and evening commute hours, to Lindenwold. Providing access to express bus service in Atlantic County only makes sense given the circumstances.”
The Atlantic City Rail Line, which connects the resort to Philadelphia, is being temporarily suspended beginning Sept. 4 for the installation of federally mandated safety improvements. NJ Transit, in a recent statement announcing the rail line suspension, said service is anticipated to resume in “early 2019.”
Atlantic City Rail Line tickets and passes with a destination or origin of Philadelphia will be discounted 25 percent and cross-honored on bus route No. 554, PATCO, River Line and special shuttle bus service.
Brown is not the only Atlantic County official that has spoken out on the rail suspension.
The county’s two Democratic assemblymen, Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, both expressed concern about the timing of the rail line suspension.
“It’s been an economically positive summer here in Atlantic City,” Mazzeo said in a statement last week. “With Atlantic City on the rise we can’t afford a hit on our working families and tourism.”
Mazzeo said he wants to hold Gov. Phil Murphy and transportation officials accountable in “ensuring that the promised bus line replacement is efficient and that the re-open date is certain,” according to previous press reports.
Armato said there needs to be a push to educate residents on the bus schedule.
“Mazzeo and I have had our office reaching out to the Governor’s Office to see what we can do about the timing of this,” Armato said. “We have also pushed the need for community education of the bus replacements. Ensuring that our working families don’t take a hit here is essential.”