Raritan Valley Line commuters who are traveling outside of peak hours on weekdays will be able to take a New Jersey Transit train directly to and from New York Penn Station starting in three weeks.

They used to be able to do that, before the service was suspended last September as part of installing positive train control technology across the train system. The one-seat ride remained idled when other fully sidelined services – the Atlantic City Line and Princeton dinky – returned in May.

“So let’s start the week with some good and long-awaited news: One-seat, off-peak rides into New York Penn Station along the Raritan Valley Line will resume on Monday, Nov. 4,” Murphy said at a Westfield news conference.

“Today’s announcement is a long time coming – too long, frankly, and I fully understand the inconvenience that commuters have faced since these rides were suspended last September,” Murphy said.

Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti thanked commuters for their patience during the service suspensions.

“Those were not easy decisions to make, although they were the right decisions given the status of positive train control,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

The restoration of direct service, without the need to switch trains at Newark Penn Station, will apply to all five midday one-seat Raritan Valley Line round trips that operated prior to September 2018 and three of the four evening trips.

The final evening round trip – which departs Raritan at 9:53 p.m. and departs New York at 12:08 a.m. – will not be restored to one-seat service. NJ Transit cites a need to inspect and prepare dual-powered trains for the next morning’s service.

However, the current 9:53 p.m. departure from Raritan will be moved to 10:09 p.m., reducing the connecting time at Newark for New York-bound customers from 24 minutes to eight minutes. Returning from New York, the train will leave three-minutes earlier and have a seven-minute connection time.

“And that’s something, by the way, with more predictability and more frequency we’d like to do in the peak side of life as well,” Murphy said.

“And we will continue to make both more reliable and predictable the ability for you to have single platform transfers in the peak hour. That’s a very difficult task, but it’s not insurmountable,” Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr, co-chair of the Raritan Valley Line Mayors Alliance, said more than 10,000 residential units are planned to be built in towns along the rail line and that the direct ride must eventually be expanded to include rush-hour trains.

“Each of us have met families who are considering moving to another town with direct train service. The lack of direct service is a serious and valid commuter issue and impacts the appeal of our towns,” Mahr said.

This is shaping up to be a transit-focused week for Murphy.

On Tuesday, Murphy is due to join Amtrak board chairman Tony Coscia at a New Brunswick news conference to announce NJ Transit and Amtrak investments. And on Wednesday, the governor plans to attend a graduation ceremony for a class of seven train engineer trainees.

New Jersey: Decoded cuts through the cruft and gets to what matters in New Jersey news and politics. Follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5 and the editor of New Jersey: Decoded. Follow @NJDecoded on Twitter and Facebook. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com

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