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NJ TRANSIT CELEBRATES 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF MIDTOWN DIRECT

Rail service inspires commemorative work of art

June 9, 2006
NJT-06-077
Contact: Dan Stessel 973-491-7078

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The introduction of MidTOWN DIRECT trains so changed the life of Teresa Barkley—a commuter from Maplewood, NJ—that she was inspired to create a quilt commemorating tomorrow’s 10th anniversary of the service, which links towns along NJ TRANSIT’s Morris & Essex lines with midtown Manhattan. The quilt was unveiled today at an early morning ceremony at Maplewood Station.

“I designed this quilt to represent a fictitious commemorative stamp honoring the ten-year anniversary of MidTOWN DIRECT service,” said Barkley. “I moved to Maplewood from New York in 1995 because of the promise of this train service, and it has had a dramatic impact on life in my town and others nearby.”

NJ TRANSIT launched weekday MidTOWN DIRECT service on the Morris & Essex Lines on June 10, 1996. Weekend service was added on September 8, 1996. The rail link enables trains on the Morris & Essex Lines to “merge” on to the Northeast Corridor in the Kearny Meadowlands, providing passengers with direct service to New York Penn Station.

The rectangular panels on the right side of the quilt represent what Barkley sees on her way into New York—that is, if she gets her favorite seat. The panels on the left side represent the view on her return home. The arch at the center represents the tunnel beneath the Hudson River between New Jersey and New York.

“In a single, simple work of art, Ms. Barkley has captured the major effect that MidTOWN DIRECT service has had on the communities it serves,” said NJ TRANSIT Assistant Executive Director Lynn Bowersox. “All of us at NJ TRANSIT are grateful for the opportunity to improve the commuting experience for tens of thousands of Morris & Essex Line customers.”

Before MidTOWN DIRECT, Morris & Essex Line customers traveling to Midtown had no option but to transfer to PATH trains or trans-Hudson ferries at Hoboken Terminal. MidTOWN DIRECT service provides either a one-seat ride into Manhattan or a convenient transfer at Summit Station or Newark Broad Street Station to continue to Manhattan for residents of Essex, Union, Morris, Somerset and Warren counties. Even with a transfer, MidTOWN DIRECT service saves customers up to 20 minutes of travel time in each direction.

NJ TRANSIT broke ground for the new connection in 1993. Infrastructure improvements included more than 7,000 feet of new track, installation of high-speed switches, and construction of two ramps to support the connection tracks.

Today, NJ TRANSIT offers about 30 weekday trains in each direction to and from New York Penn Station on the Morris & Essex Lines, operating an average of four trains per hour each way during the morning and evening peak periods and providing hourly service during off-peak hours and on weekends.

Prior to the introduction of MidTOWN DIRECT service, NJ TRANSIT served 7.4 million annual passenger trips on the Morris & Essex Lines from 1995 to 1996—or approximately 28,000 passenger trips on an average weekday. Ridership on the line increased more than twenty percent during the first year of MidTOWN DIRECT service.

NJ TRANSIT today provides approximately 13.5 million annual passenger trips on the Morris & Essex Lines—about 50,000 passenger trips on an average weekday. Approximately 30,000 of those weekday trips are MidTOWN DIRECT customers.

An accomplished quilter, Barkley has created more than 100 quilts in more than three decades and has had her quilts featured in museum venues throughout the U.S. as well as exhibitions in Africa, Australia, Europe and Japan. Her work is included in collections at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C.; the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln; Nihon Vogue in Tokyo, Japan; and the University of Delaware.

The commemorative “Midtown Direct” quilt will be displayed at the Newark Museum beginning June 15. NJ TRANSIT customers may purchase one admission and get the second one free when they ride NJ TRANSIT to The Newark Museum. Simply visit www.njtransit.com and click on “Deals and Destinations” to print a voucher to present along with a bus, light rail or rail ticket/pass or transportation receipt.

About The Newark Museum

The Newark Museum, a nationally recognized leader in arts education, and New Jersey's largest museum, weaves together 80 distinguished galleries of world-class art and interactive science to provide a day of inspiration and exploration. At the Newark Museum you'll find classic and contemporary American Art, Tibetan Art, African and Native American Indian collections, a planetarium, Mini Zoo, gift shops, a cafe, auditorium, sculpture garden and the Ballantine House Victorian mansion—a National Historic Landmark.

About NJ TRANSIT

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing more than 827,000 weekday trips on 240 bus routes, three light rail lines and 11 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 55 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Photographs of today’s event are available upon request.