Three stations opened this past Tuesday: one at the western termination of Second Street in Hoboken, one at the western termination of Ninth Street in Hoboken, and one at Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken.
The Hudson Bergen Light Rail system now has 20 stations in operation running from Bayonne to Weehawken. The new segment is approximately 2.6 miles long.
Continuing service to Port Imperial in Weehawken, Bergenline Avenue in Union City, and Tonnelle Avenue in North Bergen is expected to be completed in summer 2005.
According to NJ Transit officials, current service is a "shuttle" operating between Lincoln Harbor and the Hoboken Terminal every 15 minutes throughout the day. Riders at Hoboken can switch trains to continue to Jersey City.
Hudson-Bergen Light Rail operates 90-foot Light Rail vehicles equipped with 68 seats, modern heating and air conditioning systems, and wheelchair securements, and are fully accessible to people with disabilities.
"It's an exciting time," said Hoboken Mayor David Roberts. "We're adding one more element to Hoboken's wide array of mass transit options."
"The path of progress this light rail system has generated in Hudson County is astounding," said Assemblyman and Union City Mayor Brian Stack. "I look forward with great anticipation to the next extension, and the benefits it will bring to Union City, West New York, North Bergen and the rest of the region."
"Today is the next step in providing increased economic opportunities for northern Hudson County," said West New York Mayor Albio Sires. "The foresight and planning of the last 15 years is being seen and appreciated. I look forward with great anticipation to completing the north Hudson link into the heart of West New York, Union City and North Bergen."
U.S. Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist.), who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that light rail is more than just about heading to work, school, or shopping and entertainment. "It's about linking communities, providing options, and protecting our environment," said Menendez.
"Light rail is crucial to economic of Hudson County," added Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. "It increases home value and business investments and it makes it easier for people to live, work and shop here." DeGise also called on state and federal officials find funding to expand the light rail route to the Meadowlands by the end of the decade.
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner said that it is an important event for not only for Weehawken but for all of Hudson County.
"We're absolutely thrilled," said Turner recently. "The light rail will make it possible for Hudson County residents to travel north and south within the county without having to get into their cars."
Turner added that the Lincoln Harbor stop would be an economic boon for the city. Currently, Lincoln Harbor's biggest employer, UBS, has to bus many of its employees from the Hoboken PATH station. The light rail, he said, will make Lincoln Harbor that much more of an attractive locale to do business. And next year, he said, it will connect to Port Imperial with its parking and ferry service, which will tie together all of Weehawken's transportation options.
U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg and Hoboken residents Menendez and U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine played a significant role in bringing in federal funds to the light rail project. The total project, up to North Bergen, will cost approximately $2.3 billion and is being funded by federal and state sources.
The one-way flat fare to any of the light rail station is $1.50 and a monthly pass can be purchased for $53. According to officials from New Jersey Transit, with the new station open it anticipates that 17,000 passenger trips will be made per day on an average.
Because light rail trains cross active streets, NJ Transit reminds residents of the following safety precautions:
* Cross light rail tracks only at designated areas such as sidewalk or street crossings.
* Do not use the tracks as a shortcut.
* Do not go near the overhead wires.
* Never place foreign objects on the tracks or near the overhead wires.
* Stay away from electrical substations and fences.
* Observe all traffic signals and grade crossing protection devices at street intersections.
* Obey all posted signs.
* Pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists must be careful when approaching intersections crossed by the light rail system.