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In an effort to install an automatic braking system throughout the state, New Jersey Transit is suspending all Dinky service from Sunday, Oct. 14 through mid-January 2019.

The statewide transit agency is currently rushing to meet a federal deadline to install a GPS-reliant emergency braking system, called Positive Train Control or “PTC,” by Dec. 31st, according to the New York Times. In 2008, Congress mandated rail companies to implement PTC, initially setting the deadline at 2015 before providing a three-year extension.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the project to implement PTC statewide in New Jersey was more than 65 percent complete.

According to the NJ Transit website, the Dinky service “will be replaced by buses on weekdays and weekends” to accommodate passengers.

Adam Chang ’20 expressed skepticism that the buses would be an adequate replacement, citing previous instances where the Dinky had been replaced with bus services.

“On every occasion in the past where they’ve replaced Dinky service with buses, the buses only meet the express train, which comes one in every three to five trains,” Chang said. “The buses also don’t run on an actual schedule; there’s nothing online and they don’t have anything on the station.”

Chang also noted that, previously, the buses did not run late at night or early in the mornings. Chang feared that the change to buses would disproportionately impact University staff members and others who may not be able to afford Ubers, taxis, or other alternatives.

Daily ridership on the Dinky was around 814 passengers in fiscal year 2017.

Other affected routes on the Northeast Corridor include the temporary discontinuations of Trains 3832 and 3857 — the 10:42 a.m. and 3:42 p.m. from New York Penn Station to Trenton, respectively.

While the repairs take place, NJ Transit is offering 10 percent discounts on all rail tickets from November through January.

The Times also reported that a lack of engineers is part of the cause for cancellations throughout the state. Chang claimed that he and other University students believed that mismanagement and understaffing were to blame as well.

“[NJ Transit doesn't] have enough engineers and conductors to run the trains systemwide,” Chang said. “Installing this system on the Dinky should not be something that takes three months.”

Total cancellations throughout the state consist of 18 daily trains on five NJ Transit lines and weekend service on the Gladstone Branch of the Morris & Essex line, plus the Dinky.

This story will be updated online as more information becomes available.

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