SERVICE HISTORY AND GROWTH
The proposed Passaic-Bergen passenger line was constructed in the early 1870s by the New Jersey Midland Railway, as part of a regional freight connection from Paterson to points north and west. In 1881, the Midland Railway merged with the NYS&W, and continued to provide freight and passenger service in the region. After World War II, passenger service along the NYS&W began to decline as increased automobile ownership and new road and highway construction siphoned passengers away from the railroad. In 1966, passenger service was terminated as ridership declined along the route and the financial loss of providing passenger service could no longer be sustained by freight revenues. Today, the line continues to host a modest amount of freight traffic.
Recently, local, state and federal elected officials, including Rep. Bill Pascrell (9th Dist.) have expressed renewed support for the restoration of Passaic-Bergen rail service.
STATUS OF PREVIOUS STUDIES
Efforts to study the restoration of passenger rail service along the NYS&W were advanced in 1996 when NJ TRANSIT completed an environmental assessment. In 2002, NJ TRANSIT initiated an environmental impact statement (EIS) and preliminary engineering for restoration of passenger service between Hawthorne and Hackensack. Between 2007 and 2012, NJ TRANSIT completed the EIS and final design. Since 2012, changes in land uses, increased congestion, and the opportunity for economic growth have rekindled discussion about the provision of passenger rail service across Passaic and Bergen Counties.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES OF THIS STUDY
The Passaic-Bergen-Hudson Transit Project is guided by five goals and supporting objectives to address the Purpose and Need for the restoration of passenger service along the NYS&W. The corresponding supporting objectives further define the goals and will support criteria that provide specific and measurable means to evaluate study alternatives.
- GOAL 1: Improve mobility options
- Provide frequent, high-quality transit service to employment and other activity centers in Passaic, Bergen, and Hudson Counties
- Provide improved transit accessibility to resident and working populations (particularly underserved populations and transit dependent)
- Increase transit ridership
- Improve travel time and reliability
- Increase transportation system capacity to accommodate future growth and assist in mitigating future increases in traffic congestion
- GOAL 2: Improve transportation connectivity
- Provide intermodal connectivity/interoperability with existing bus and rail services (e.g. NJ TRANSIT commuter rail, Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, etc.)
- Improve pedestrian and bicyclist connectivity and safety
- GOAL 3: Support economic growth opportunities
- Stimulate and serve existing, proposed/future development while preserving existing community resources
- Encourage a shift in land use patterns to promote transit-oriented development (TOD), sustainability, and smart growth
- Support ongoing and planned development projects
- Advance the goals of local and regional plans
- GOAL 4: Develop a cost-effective project
- Implement cost-effective transit improvements within a reasonable construction timeframe and with capital and operations/maintenance costs that are consistent with realistically anticipated available funding
- Maximize revenue potential
- Utilize existing transportation infrastructure
- GOAL 5: Enhance quality of life and minimize adverse environmental impacts
- Minimize impacts to sensitive environmental areas
- Minimize property acquisitions
- Minimize air quality and noise vibration impacts
- Minimize visual impacts
- Maintain historical/cultural character of neighborhoods
- Implement sustainable transit technologies
IMAGES AND MAPS
STUDY AREA MAP: The study area for the Passaic-Bergen-Hudson Transit Project includes seven municipalities in Passaic and Bergen Counties that are traversed by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway (NYS&W). In Passaic County, the municipalities include the Borough of Hawthorne and the City of Paterson. Bergen County jurisdictions include the Boroughs of Elmwood Park and Maywood, the Townships of Saddle Brook and Rochelle Park, and the City of Hackensack. A potential extension to connect with HBLRTS would add the Borough of Bogota and Village of Ridgefield Park in Bergen County, and the Township of North Bergen in Hudson County.