To meet the public requests for earlier and later service, NJ Transit, Bombardier and Conrail have worked to progressively expand the River LINE's schedule. The task was tackled cooperatively in a manner that is safe but doesn't disrupt the fl ow of freight service, which is growing. Service expansion on the River LINE has included:
- *an increase from 30-minute to 15-minute peak service in June 2004;
- *early morning service to Trenton from Florence and Roebling in September 2004, enabling customers to make earlier connections to Northeast Corridor trains;
- *early morning service from Cinnaminson to Camden in January 2005;
- *late-night service in June 2006 that extended the 9:30 p.m. trip from Camden to 36th Street to the Pennsauken/Route 73 Park & Ride; and
- *early-morning and later evening service from Burlington City to Camden and Trenton in September 2006.
A $1.3 million signal enhancement project will allow even more late-night service between Camden and the Pennsauken/ Route 73 Park & Ride by May 2007. The project will enable the River LINE to operate between the two stations until midnight every night. Trips that currently operate only between Camden's Entertainment Center and 36th Street between 10 p.m. and midnight will be extended to the Pennsauken/ Route 73 Park & Ride, located close to Route 73, Route 130, the New Jersey Turnpike and I-295.
"We have an excellent relationship with them [Conrail] and we absolutely have to," says Fazio. "We could hurt each other very badly if we didn't understand each other's needs and pressures. Although we share the line, we control it from our Camden Op- erations Center, and we have to be sensitive to Conrail, too. Rail and transit are very tight circles; you don't accomplish anything by fighting.
"It's important to recognize Conrail's need to grow its business just as much as they recognize ours. The more traffic they've got, the better for them and their shippers. Those local industries that depend on this freight service create some of the jobs that lead to more passengers for us."
The ability of the key players to forge working partnerships runs through virtually everything the line has achieved since Day One. Extra service to cater to events has meant extra business for everyone. Cooperative promotion has been the norm — whether it's in relation to once-a-year events such as the Liberty Grand Prix Power Boat Race at the Battleship New Jersey in Camden or ongoing attractions such as walking tours of the architecture-rich historical districts that dot the route.
"We knew right from the start that we'd have to do a lot more than just run a good light rail service," says North. "George Warrington said we would need every tool we could think of to promote it and integrate it into the mainstream of life throughout this corridor. Well, I think that's what has happened. That's most evident in the Burlington County Office of Economic Development's fi nding that the River LINE has played a significant role in $1 billion of area investment since we opened."
Community partnerships have arrived in the form of transit-oriented development, too. Restaurants started popping up close to stations and proposals for building conversions and brownfield developments began to take shape. Sure enough, new and existing businesses, such as restaurants and stores reported growing business soon after opening day, leading one local newspaper to very quickly ask, "Could it be that the River LINE will be a success?"
Key indicators would suggest that the answer is "yes." There is major activity visible now all along the corridor. A perfect example is the agreement Riverside Township recently signed with developers to transform the industrial area known as the Golden Triangle into a $200 million transit-oriented, mixed-use development. The centerpiece of the 32-acre brownfield is Keystone Watchcase Tower, a classic 1908 building that's been vacant for more than 50 years and is located directly opposite the River LINE station. The seven-story tower, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, will have commercial space on the ground level and 120 two-story lofts above. Two hundred new condominiums and 66 townhouses will fl ank this adaptive reuse development.