New Sept. 13th rail schedules- NJT makes stealth cuts on the Morris & Essex, spares the Pascack Valley Line on Fridays

Every few months, NJT puts out new rail timetables.  This September’s feature a few service modifications, some good, some bad, and updated holiday service information.  Most significantly, the timetables are update to show higher fares.  Here are the service changes you can expect to see:

NJT announced in May that it planned to cut train 1601, the last train on the weekday schedule from Hoboken to Pascack Valley Line points.  The new schedules shows that the train was not cut entirely-  instead, it only runs Friday evenings, when ridership is somewhat higher.  To make up for the service cut Monday – Thursday, the last train of the day will be moved back, from 10:42pm to 11:13pm.

On the Montclair-Boonton Line, train 1043, a late night shuttle from MSU to Lake Hopatcong, will make its last run on Friday.

Seasonal North Jersey Coast Line trains stop running after this weekend as well, to return in summer 2016.  Several weekend and late night weekday shuttles from Long Branch to Bay Head will stop running, as well as weekend express trains.

The Port Jervis Line will see a new afternoon train departing Hoboken at 2:40, running express from Secaucus to Suffern.  Previously, this train only operated as an early getaway train before major holidays. It will now operate to Middletown every weekday, and to Port Jervis on early getaway service days. The new service is funded by Metro-North, not NJT.

In conjunction with this change, the 1:13 departure to Port Jervis from Hoboken has been moved to 12:42.

On the Morris & Essex Lines, late night service is being reduced. These cuts were not part of the summer hearings on service cuts.  No notice was given for these cuts. Train 6684, the 11:37pm train from Dover to New York, is eliminated.  The last inbound train from Dover is now at 10:32pm.

The last trains of the evening, the 12:32am from Hoboken to Gladstone, and the 1:19am train from New York to Dover, are also being eliminated, leaving to last train to Gladstone at 11:44pm and the last train to Dover at 12:34am. Unlike the cuts of the Pascack Valley Line, these trains will not continue to operate on Friday evenings.

This is what is known as a “stealth cut,” when the transit agency seeks to eliminate service without being noticed.

See the new schedules here until the 13th.

Dwell times- why your train is slow

In theory, commuter trains can go up to 90mph, but most of the time they stop every few minutes and never reach this speed. The amount of time a train spends at each stop isn’t much, but it adds up.

This is called “dwell time,” the total time that the train stops, or “dwells” in at a station.

Here’s some data sent to me by a friend. He recorded how long his train spent at each stop, from Upper Montclair to Newark.  The timer starts when the train comes to a full stop, and ends when the train begins moving again.

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 11.50.21 AMAccording to the Montclair Boonton-Line schedule, The trip from Upper Montclair to Newark Broad Street takes anywhere from 24 to 27 minutes. If we subtract the dwell time for Upper Montclair and Newark, The train is not moving at all for 9 minutes 33 seconds inbound and 8 minutes 45 seconds outbound. That’s anywhere from 32% to 37% of the scheduled trip time from Upper Montclair to Newark.

Now granted, the data here is from rush hour trains and doesn’t include the section of the line between New York and Newark with fewer stops, so it’s not entirely representative.

Here’s the same information in graphical format:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 12.08.02 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 12.08.08 PM

You’ll notice that the stops that took the least time were Upper Montclair, Bay Street, and Watsessing. Watsessing and Upper Montclair took less time because they have lower ridership.  In Fall 2013 (the most recent available stats), Watsessing has 223 daily boardings and Upper Montclair had 519.

Bay Street, on the other hand, had 1,166 boardings, making it the busiest stop on the line.  This is interesting.  Bay Street is the busiest stop on the line yet it has one of the lowest dwell times. Continue reading