The Princeton Dinky, which was “temporarily discontinued” on Oct. 14 and expected to return in late January, will now remain out of commission until mid-2019 at the earliest.
NJ Transit announced in a statement on Jan. 25 that, during the second quarter of 2019, it hopes to start restoring rail services that have been “subject to temporary service adjustments.” Although there is no definitive date set for this restoration, NJ Transit promises to “communicate updates as new information becomes available.”
“We recognize the impact that these services adjustments have had on our valued customers, particularly those who use our ACRL [Atlantic City Rail Line] and Princeton Dinky services,” NJ Transit executive director Kevin S. Corbett said in the statement. “Our goal is to begin restoring a service that remains reliable and predictable for customers as quickly as possible.”
The Dinky is one of multiple trains that have been removed from their original routes in order for NJ Transit to complete federally mandated installations of Positive Train Control (PTC) equipment on its rail fleet. Although these installations were scheduled to conclude by Dec. 31, 2018, they remain ongoing as of early 2019, and the restoration of regular service for all affected trains has been postponed accordingly.
The buses that have been substituting for the Dinky in the interim have prompted a variety of student complaints, largely because their reduced carrying capacity creates discomfort and delays during periods of heavy traffic between the University campus and Princeton Junction.
Olivia Guan ’21, who hails from Queens and makes occasional trips to New York City by train during the academic year, expressed a desire to return to the days of an operational Dinky.
“There is more space inside [the train],” Guan said. “Plus, its schedule is linked to the NJ Transit trip planner, so you don’t have to flip back and forth between the train schedule and the modified bus schedule.”
However, upon learning that the Dinky would remain out of service for at least a few more months, Guan resigned herself to taking the bus as her primary method of transportation to Princeton Junction. She stated that she did not foresee it affecting the frequency with which she made use of NJ Transit rail services.
Carol Lee ’20 offered a counter to the discontent that has been voiced elsewhere in the student body, citing financial benefits.
“Even though it’s less direct and takes longer to get to the station, I don’t think the bus is that much worse than the Dinky,” Lee said. “The bus actually saves me a few dollars every trip because I don’t need to buy a ticket just to get to Princeton Junction anymore.”
NJ Transit had offered a 10 percent discount on all tickets as compensation for any inconvenience caused by the PTC installations. The discount concluded on Jan. 31, 2018.