NEWARK — NJ Transit said it has met year-end requirements for federally mandated safety improvements on the Atlantic City Rail line — but when the line will reopen is still up in the air.

State elected officials have been given different timetables on the matter.

Representatives for the agency would not say when the line would be operational, but they are “committed to reopening the Atlantic City Rail Line in early 2019.”

Reached Wednesday, Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo’s office referred all comments to a news release it issued last week, in which Mazzeo and Assemblyman John Armato, both D-Atlantic, said the line would be reopened “towards the first of the year.”

However, state Sen. Chris Brown, R-Atlantic, said NJ Transit Executive Director Kevin Corbett told him Tuesday “the best-case scenario” was the line would be reopened at the end of January, but it could take until March.

The agency said it is still looking to reopen the line early in the year but is extending a 25 percent discount on bus fares through the end of January.

“NJ Transit is committed to reopening the Atlantic City Rail Line in early 2019 pending review and approval of our recent submission to the Federal Railroad Administration for the alternate schedule, which extends the deadline for the full PTC implementation to Dec. 31, 2020,” a release from the agency said.

At the end of the third quarter, the Federal Railroad Administration said NJ Transit was one of several rail lines in the country at risk of missing its year-end deadline.

NJ Transit has met federal requirements for the end of the year in terms of the number of cars outfitted, employees trained and more, but there is more to be completed in the new year, according to the state agency.

At a meeting with Brown Tuesday, Corbett said the line’s service would be “as good or better” than before the start of positive train control installations, Brown said.

Positive train control, or PTC, is technology aimed at stopping trains before human error snowballs, including derailments from excessive speed and train-on-train collisions.

The federally mandated equipment installation began in September. Since the announcement, there has been speculation among riders that the stoppage was permanent, given the line’s thin ridership. The agency has continually pushed back on those claims.

In 2011, annual ridership on the Atlantic City Rail Line was just more than 1.38 million. By 2017, ridership fell to less than 1 million, a decline of more than 9 percent from 2016, according to NJ Transit.

Ridership was down 4.1 percent in 2018 before the service was suspended.

Staff Writer

Joined the Press in November 2016. Graduate of Quinnipiac University. Previously worked as a freelance reporter in suburban Philadelphia and news/talk radio producer.

Staff Writer

I cover breaking news on the digital desk. I graduated from Temple University in Dec. 2017 and joined the Press in the fall of 2018. Previously, I freelanced, covering Pennsylvania state politics and criminal justice reform.

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