This article was originally published in the November 2018 Princeton Echo.
NJ Transit, troubled by problems too numerous to mention in this space, has suspended its train service on several smaller branches, including the Dinky line between Princeton and Princeton Junction, so it can concentrate its effort on the main line. The Dinky service will be replaced by a bus, which may or may not be able to meet trains at the junction as reliably as the two-car train did. NJ Transit said the interruption of service, which began October 14, would last at least three months.
Dinky passengers, who have witnessed previous attempts to reduce or eliminate rail service on the line, have rallied in defense of the Dinky line. More than 500 people have signed a petition at change.org to keep the Dinky running.
The nonprofit group Save the Dinky, which advocated against the recent relocation of the Dinky station 460 feet farther from the center of town, has also joined the fight. “A months-long suspension of service will lead to major disruptions for Dinky riders who will be forced to either drive to Princeton Junction or use bus alternatives with longer travel times,” Save the Dinky President Anita Garoniak wrote in a letter to NJ Transit.
A lengthy suspension of service may also reduce the ongoing ridership on the Dinky, making it appear to be less viable to the state-wide agency. “As you know,” Garoniak wrote, “ridership has yet to recover from the net 22 percent loss that followed the station relocation” to accommodate the new Lewis Arts Center.