The following is a guest contribution and reflects the author’s views alone. For information on how to submit an article to the Opinion Section, click here.
Over the past few years, NJ Transit has been considering four alternatives to the rail line between Princeton Station and Princeton Junction (the “Dinky”). One design concept that made it past the first round, Alternative 1, proposes a much more frequent light rail service, with added bus service, as well as a bike and walking path alongside the light rail. It is, in my opinion, a truly fantastic project.
The bike and walk path will allow for safe crossing of Route 1 as well as weekend strolls along a lush, green park that connects residential areas to the well-loved canal. I know I would love to ride my bike to the West Windsor Community Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings.
The light rail and buses allow for service to be expanded as the area grows. If West Windsor and Plainsboro decide to extend the project eastward, the Dinky could provide transportation for new communities. For example, many postdocs at the University live at Quail Ridge Drive, Hunters Glen Drive, and Fox Run Drive. An expanded local transit network would facilitate much easier transport for postdoctoral fellows and many others.
Alternative 1’s emphasis on more frequent trips will mean reduced waiting times for everyone. Public transit will become a more convenient alternative to driving, which is expected to result in fewer trips taken by personal vehicles within the Princeton-West Windsor area, as well as within the region more broadly. This expansion will reduce congestion on roads and competition for parking, decrease carbon emissions (not everyone can afford an electric car), and reduce the number of microplastics from tire wear entering our waterways and polluting our air.
In short, the advancement of Alternative 1 is great news. When will this fabulous project be completed, we might ask?
That depends, in part, on us.
In any given year, there might be 50 such projects proposed, and funding allocated for only a fraction of them. Therefore, pressure from multiple levels is needed.
A clear show of community enthusiasm will help convince decision-makers to fund this project. Sign and share the petition to NJ Transit at bit.ly/DinkyPetition. Furthermore, consider sharing your excitement with the Town Councils of West Windsor and Princeton; the Mercer Board of County Commissioners; Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes; State Senator Andrew Zwicker; N.J. Assembly members Daniel Benson (a huge public transit proponent), Roy Freiman, and Sadaf Jaffer; and even Governor Phil Murphy.
Let them see our enthusiasm, so they know to advocate for this improvement to the transportation infrastructure.
Together, we can help make this new vision for the Dinky a reality.
Jessica L. Wilson ’15 GS is a Ph.D. candidate in Mechanical Engineering. She is a member of Princeton’s Public Transit Advisory Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.