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The dinky needs to be preserved, folks. DONT let them replace it with dirty and delayed busses!
The truth about the Dinky and BRT
Monday, June 14, 2010 5:42 PM EDT
A. Garoniak, L. Monnens, M. Monseau of Princeton
The Princeton Regional Planning Board will soon be voting to endorse NJ Transit’s plan to replace the train connecting Princeton and Princeton Junction with a Bus Rapid Transit system. Based on statements by Master Plan subcommittee chairman, Marvin Reed, all signs point to an endorsement. Removing Princeton’s direct link to the national rail system will have an irrevocable impact on the accessibility, character, and quality of life in our town and merits thorough public discussion.
Mr. Reed points to BRT as an ideal solution to the stalemate between town and gown over relocating the Dinky station for the planned Arts and Transit Neighborhood. However, it is difficult to understand how a plan to remove the rail line is preferable to one that keeps it. Mr. Reed claims BRT can serve more residents by extending into town. As part of his “not just another bus” stump speech, he ignores any negatives regarding the BRT proposal.
First is that BRT is not “rapid” without dedicated bus lanes, called right-of-way (ROW). The Princeton BRT will not have ROW once it leaves the station for downtown Princeton. Instead, these 60-foot-long articulated buses will join regular traffic. Regardless of how modern and accessible BRT is, when stuck in congestion, it becomes “just another bus.”
According to Mr. Reed, ROW “could” be created up University Place to the corner of Nassau Street by replacing parking spaces with a bus lane. This will eliminate parking and a municipal revenue stream, two things the town never has enough of. It’s also difficult to imagine this alone will create enough space for the large buses. Will trees and sidewalks be affected?
Light preemption technology, allowing buses to change signals to green, is offered as a solution. However, Nassau Street is too short for preemption to be effective and will make congestion worse. During a Princeton Community Television interview, Mr. Reed stated that BRT could also have “pedestrian priority.” It is unclear what this means for nonsignaled crosswalks and laws requiring vehicles to yield to pedestrians.
Most importantly, will enough people use BRT to justify having five or more giant buses rumbling through town every 10 minutes? Examining the nearly nonexistent ridership for the Free B suggests Princeton may not have the population density to support the system.
These are a few of the issues that 6,000-plus members of the “Save the Princeton Dinky” Facebook group have been examining logically and openly. Mr. Reed dismisses this group as sentimentalists who do not understand BRT or transit issues. In actuality, the group is a deep resource of information about the BRT proposal, collecting studies and documents buried among government and agency websites.