What's up with the Dinky?
The beloved Dinky rail service between Princeton and Princeton Junction is ready for an update. For instance, it is increasingly difficult to find parts for the repair and maintenance of the rail cars, which date from the 1970s. If nothing is done, we will eventually lose this vital connection.
The good news: NJ Transit is proposing to upgrade and revitalize the corridor.
Learn about the proposed upgrade, and how you can have a voice in the decision making process!
THE PROPOSED PLAN
NJ Transit is considering upgrading the service between Princeton Station and Princeton Junction Station. The current rail cars used for the much-loved "Dinky" branch line were put in service in the 1970s; maintaining them has become problematic as it is getting more difficult to source the required parts. After several rounds of public input, NJ Transit selected one corridor concept.
HISTORY OF THE DINKY
Preserving the Corridor, Upgrading the Technology
Transit has always mattered to Princeton. In the early days of locomotive travel, the line that ran from New York to Philadelphia made stops in Princeton and elsewhere along the D&R canal. The route was shifted east, to what is now the Junction, in the mid-1800s. Princeton residents feared losing their connection to the transit system and successfully advocated for a new, dedicated line. It would become the Princeton Junction & Back (PJ & B).
This was the Dinky, one of the shortest commuter rail lines in the country - and a point of pride for our community.
Today, we once again fear losing our connection to the transit system. The Dinky rail cars are four decades old. Ridership has been on the decline since before the pandemic started. What’s more, automobiles are the default choice for trips between Princeton and the Junction. The result is more traffic and more pollution, and this at a time when drivers are paying record amounts for gas.
So how do we respond? By supporting a Dinky for the 21st century.
We have a unique opportunity to revitalize transit in the Princeton region. This is no longer about the shortest and quaintest commuter line. It’s about taking pride in a faster, more reliable, and comprehensive system - one that extends all the way into Princeton’s central business district and community hubs, and also includes bicycle and pedestrian access.
Interested in learning more about the history of The Dinky?