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NJ TRANSIT TO RETIRE NEWARK CITY SUBWAY PCC CARS IN LATE AUGUST

New LRVs to Debut August 27

CONTACT: Michael Klufas (973-491-7078)

NEWARK, NJ, August 9, 2001 -- NJ TRANSIT has announced that the historic Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) cars will take their last run on the Newark City Subway on Friday, August 24. Following a transitional weekend in which new signal and operational systems will be activated, the Newark City Subway's future will hit the rails on Monday, August 27 when new light rail vehicles (LRVs) begin operating between Branch Brook Park Station and Penn Station in Newark.

After their retirement, NJ TRANSIT will donate three PCC cars to the New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center, which will be built in Phillipsburg. The other 21 PCC cars will remain on NJ TRANSIT property while the Corporation searches for suitable New Jersey locations where they can be restored and put into local service.

"The historic PCC cars have served us well, but now our customers will enjoy a new ride with amenities such as modern heating and air conditioning and fully accessible cars for people with disabilities," said NJ TRANSIT Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh. "I invite current and former customers to enjoy one last ride on the PCC cars before August 24, and I invite them to return on August 27 and thereafter to experience 21st century comfort in the new light rail cars."

The Newark City Subway opened in May 1935. The underground portion once supported seven trolley lines that operated to Bloomfield, Caldwell, East Orange, Jersey City, Montclair, Newark and Orange. All except the City Subway route were converted to bus service in the 1950s. In 1954, Public Service Coordinated Transport -- one of NJ TRANSIT’s predecessors -- replaced the City Subway's trolley-style cars with PCC cars. The new LRVs -- manufactured by Kinkisharyo of Osaka, Japan and assembled in Harrison, New Jersey -- are nearly identical to Hudson-Bergen Light Rail vehicles, with only a slight difference in wheel design.

New LRV service will initially operate on weekdays only. On all weekends -- including Labor Day weekend -- substitute bus service will continue to be provided while contractors complete work on a one-mile Newark City Subway extension between Franklin Avenue in Newark and Grove Street in Bloomfield. In addition, the Franklin Avenue Station will be renamed Branch Brook Park Station when LRV service begins.

In preparation for the changeover, Newark City Subway operators are being trained in LRV operation. These tests and training will allow operators to familiarize themselves with the LRVs. In addition, new LRVs are being tested and LRV operation plans are being thoroughly reviewed.

On weekdays, most LRV and operator testing occurs on tracks near the new Vehicle Base Facility (VBF) on Grove Street, where the LRVs are being stored. The VBF is replacing a small, antiquated repair and maintenance facility near the City Subway's Penn Station platforms.

On weekends, LRVs may travel from Grove Street to Newark Penn Station. Simulated revenue service may also operate on weekends, meaning LRVs could run up to every three minutes along the Newark City Subway’s entire length -- including the extension -- during this time.

After LRV operation begins, vehicles will depart the VBF each weekday morning and return each weekday evening. There will be additional tests and construction on tracks leading from the VBF to Branch Brook Park Station. Therefore, Belleville, Bloomfield and Newark residents are reminded to exercise caution in and around the extension’s tracks, just as they have since the 750-volt overhead wire system -- which provides electrical power to light rail vehicles -- was activated in early February.

This fall, the Newark City Subway will be extended into Belleville and Bloomfield. Two new stations -- Silver Lake in Belleville and Grove Street in Bloomfield -- will be added, marking the first extension since a short segment from Heller Parkway to Franklin Avenue opened in November 1940. When the extension opens, customers currently using the Heller Parkway Station will be directed to the nearby -- and larger -- Branch Brook Park Station.

With these upcoming changes, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists are reminded to exercise caution when approaching intersections crossed by the Newark City Subway, including Belmont Avenue, Franklin Street, Heckel Street and Watchung Avenue in Belleville and Orange Street in Newark. They should also follow these safety rules:

  • Do not use the tracks as a shortcut, or walk along the tracks.
  • Cross City Subway tracks only at designated areas, such as street crossings.
  • Do not place foreign objects on the tracks or in the catenary systems.
  • Do not go near the catenary poles or wires.
  • Avoid substations, fences and high voltage catenary (overhead wire) lines.
  • Observe all traffic signals and grade crossing protection devices.
  • Obey all signs.

Later this year, NJ TRANSIT will begin constructing another extension of the Newark City Subway -- the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link -- that will link Newark Penn Station with Newark Broad Street Station. Service on this route is scheduled to begin in summer 2005.

NJ TRANSIT is the nation's largest statewide public transportation system providing bus, rail and light rail services for 373,500 daily commuters on 240 bus routes, two light rail lines and 12 commuter rail lines. It is the third largest transit system in the country with 162 rail stations, 26 light rail stations and more than 17,000 bus stops linking major points in New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia.

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Editor's Note: NJ TRANSIT is planning several events in conjunction with the retirement of the PCCs and the startup of LRV service. These will include a midday ceremony on Friday, August 24 with dignitaries and commemorative "final rides" for customers and enthusiasts on Friday evening. On Monday, August 27, NJ TRANSIT officials and staff members will be on-hand to welcome customers and answer questions about LRV operations. Additional details on these events will be available the week of August 20.