Heights Commuter Says NJ Transit's 'Safer Option' is Not Safe At All
This letter to the editor comes to us from Lino Brescia, a Hasbrouck Heights resident who has started a petition against NJ Transit regarding safe access to the train stop which borders Route 17 at the Teterboro border.
I HAD A DREAM…… a dream commute that is.
That’s according to the recent article that was printed in the local section of The Record (Jan 20). The article focused on myself and other Heights commuters who are angry and frustrated with NJ Transit. NJ Transit’s unilateral decision and actions not only affects NYC commuters but our town in general.
Convenient access to NYC is a key-contributing factor to our sustained property value in this difficult economic climate.
For those unaware, our town’s train stop sits between the abandoned Exxon station, PSE&G power station and Safelite AutoGlass on the dead end of Williams Avenue and Route 17. It is directly across the street from the Bendix diner. For the price of two slices of pizza, you can have leave your car home and have a traffic-free, 45 minute ride directly into midtown Manhattan in Madison Square Garden’s basement.
Sounds great, so what’s the problem?
NJ Transit doesn’t open train doors on the Heights side of the tracks. The doors only open on the Teterboro (Green St) side. We’ve had to step over the tracks for years to wait for the train and enter it, never seemed to be a problem for us.
Apparently, what we have been doing for years as loyal NJ Transit customers was “trespassing.” It wasn’t safe; in fact a NJ Transit spokesman has called our transgressions “especially brazen” [trespassing.] Walking four steps over a quiet train track to get to the other side of the tracks where the trains doors open was seen as part criminal and part safety hazard.
Recently however, NJ Transit would put a stop to this. While we certainly appreciate NJ Transits concern for our safety the actions taken are simply hard to understand and justify.
The solution to safety concerns?
Simple! Construct a $100,000 fence; I prefer to call it a cage, which prevents commuters who walk from Hasbrouck Heights to use the train. Conversely, this also affects many local employees who come into town from the Teterboro area. Our stop was one of fifteen stations that were identified by NJ Transit as a way to step its safety efforts statewide. Lucky us, we are now safe!
What is safe here is NJ Transit’s responsibility and statewide safety statistics. They leave us the following “safer “option:
Cross Route 17, walk up an on-ramp (no sidewalks) toward Route 46. Then we will then walk on a dimly lit, unmaintained, littered sidewalk for about a mile while cars speed arms length away from us. Lastly, walk down an off ramp (again no sidewalks) to circumvent that cage. Thank you NJ Transit, we appreciate the thoughts on safety. Sounds like a great idea, but I don’t see this being detailed on real estate listings for our homes any time soon.
I guess NJ Transit never Googled the term “walking on Route 46” and found three pedestrian deaths mentioned on the first results page alone, more on subsequent result pages. Then you wonder why we aren’t happy with the remediation actions to NJ Transit’s “safety concern”.
What we want to accomplish?
We are hoping to raise awareness via a local petition, which has gained tremendous momentum and support:
We are also hoping for town council to support our efforts. We understand a train stop sandwiched in between two much larger stops can easily be ‘fixed’ to pad government statistics but if safety was a true concern we need to look no further than down the tracks.
In Hackensack, this same train line runs thru a crowded Essex Street where people walk and drive over rails, no fence. Further down the rail, Hackensack High School sits parallel to non-fenced rails, safety concern? Children taking shortcuts home, crossing tracks, hanging out near buzzing trains. Nope! No fence there either.
There are many possible solutions that can be implemented here to really achieve a better, safer result for all. This plan set forth is not acceptable and quite frankly "Look, it's a safety issue — end of story!" is not the answer we should accept from NJ Transit.