A prototype of an expanded light rail vehicle has been unveiled by NJ TRANSIT on the busy Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line.  The vehicle offers 50 percent more seating capacity than a standard light rail vehicle at a fraction of the cost, a result of a public-private partnership.

"Through customer surveys conducted as part of NJ TRANSIT"s Scorecard Initiative, we've heard from customers, particularly on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system, that crowding on trains is a top concern," said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ TRANSIT Board Chairman Jim Simpson.  "Through a successful public-private partnership with the vehicle's manufacturer, we will be piloting an expanded light rail vehicle on our system to test the feasibility of converting additional vehicles in our light rail fleet in order to increase capacity and ensure a comfortable ride for more customers."

Since the launch of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail in 2000, ridership has grown steadily and passenger trips have doubled to more than 45,000 per day in the past seven years.  To address the need for increased capacity, NJ TRANSIT partnered with Kinkisharyo International , LLC, the original manufacturer of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail's existing fleet along with Twenty-First Century Rail Corporation to find an innovative, cost-effective solution.

A design was created for an expanded vehicle that adds two additional sections to the existing light rail vehicle, increasing the number of sections from three to five.  The addition increases the car length by 37 feet and expands seating capacity from 68 to 102 seats.  It also provides additional standing room.

The expanded vehicle will go into service starting tomorrow, July 4.  It will be rotated to operate along the three segments of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system over the course of a six-month period.

“We are placing the prototype into service for Independence Day to test its ability to help accommodate the larger number of customers who will be traveling along the Hudson River Waterfront to view the Macy’s Fourth of July fireworks,” said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director James Weinstein.  “We anticipate a successful pilot period that will enable us to move toward expanding additional light rail cars in our fleet to provide more seating capacity and standing room for our light rail customers.”

NJ TRANSIT will then conduct a full evaluation of the pilot program before determining whether to expand additional light rail vehicles in its fleet.