NJ Transit will shut its Atlantic City Line for five months. Beginning on Sept. 4, the train system will reassign personnel and equipment elsewhere in the state.
The redeployment will address statewide shortages in other areas. USA Today Network New Jersey learned of the plan after recovering an internal email from the authority.
According to the email, NJ Transit is also discontinuing the Raritan Valley Line traveling to New York Penn Station during off-peak hours. Train riders affected by this change must now transfer at Newark Penn Station.
But it’s the Atlantic City train from Philadelphia that may be the most disheartening.
The latest in a string of NJ Transit woes
The soon-to-close Atlantic City Line has suffered declining ridership since 2014. In the two years between 2014 and 2016 alone, the Atlantic City line lost 20 percent of its customers.
NJ Transit has also struggled to comply with a federal mandate to install positive train control. Positive train control, or PTC, is an advanced safety system that automatically stops trains to avoid certain accidents, including train-on-train collisions and high-speed derailments.
As evidenced by the transfer of personnel from the Atlantic City Line, NJ Transit has failed to hire sufficient people to run the train lines effectively. According to northjersey.com, the transit authority canceled more than a dozen trains on Aug. 3.
The cancellation also compounds the issues that New Jersey commuters have faced during the past few months. NJ Transit has reduced schedules throughout the summer as workers have attempted to bring PTC online.
News comes just as Atlantic City is on the mend
The cessation of Atlantic City service will come as the financial situation in America’s Playground seems to be on the mend. If anything, summer 2018 has been a halcyon season on the Jersey Shore.
NJ sports betting is also available in AC this summer. At present, there are now four sportsbooks active in Atlantic City.
These developments have generated an increased traffic flow into America’s Playground. As we reported last month, the Atlantic City Expressway had 818,255 toll visitors between June 27 and July 8. This figure exceeded the total from 2017 by almost 50,000 vehicles.
In fact, things are going so well in Atlantic City that the incoming state overseer has stated his main goal will be to ensure that progress continues, rather than to implement any sort of widespread changes. Ultimately, Rob Long wants his tenure to include the end of state control over Atlantic City.
Hopefully, such an event will come to pass. Unfortunately, it does not appear that train service is part of that future, at least for the time being.