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Wilkes-Barre Station With NJ Transit Signage
wbrail Cutoff Downtown
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If we assume a rational implementation of conventional commuter rail reaching Wilkes-Barre from New York, who would operate it? Which agency's transit logo would would be hoisted atop a new downtown train station?

By all indications, since it is the Lackawanna Cutoff Project that leads in anything close to actualization, the answer would be New Jersey Transit.

New Jersey Transit Logo

So, you'd be walking along Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and see something like the following, albeit perhaps not quite so as cheezy in form as is the case with a simple mash-up of images using Microsoft Paint:

NJ Transit Sign at Wilkes-Barre Train Station

C'mon it's quick n' dirty, don't judge. Focus on the point of it.

If for some reason there were a spontaneous push from the south of Wilkes-Barre, and we weren't talking New York City at all but Philadelphia, I suppose then it could be the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA).

Septa logo

Septa Wilkes-Barre Train Station Mashup

Of course "closest thing to actualization", the NJ Transit muse, is still pretty lofty considering that Pennsylvania is so economically non-committed to its end of the project for the foreseeable future, and progress so slow even on the New Jersey side (and that's even acknowledging their recent movement). This is why at WBRAIL I prefer to hope for a complete conceptual reboot to get around this sluggishness, one that focuses on different high-speed rail technology. I literally think a fresh push from the ground up rather than counting on the Cutoff reaching Wilkes-Barre would be the faster path toward a running system.

Future Scranton Train Station Poised for Opening
wbrail Light Rail Cutoff
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WNEP is reporting that the Lackawanna Transit Center had its blue ribbon cutting ceremony earlier today - the facility won't actually open until a few weeks later. While the center's primary function is to serve as a bus depot for COLT and Martz buses, much the same way that Wilkes-Barre's Intermodal Center functions as a depot for LCTA and Martz, the station is pre-designed to accommodate future passenger rail service or at least a hassle-free expansion of the station in order to do so.

WNEP Coverage of Blue Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Linkage

Passenger Rail Talks Are Back On
wbrail Politics Cutoff
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I won't be able to populate this particular blog post much as I'm headed out the door. But here it is: 20 minutes ago I turned the radio on for my daily listening pleasure while showering to hear WILK local radio personalities Sue Henry and La Tarone going back and forth about rail. My ears perk up. Say what?

Turns out that something fired up Sue Henry's attention toward the long discussed issue of connecting Scranton and New York City to rail earlier in her program and she was now challenging some assertions about how bad the idea might actually be with La Tarone who is evidently squaring off against the notion. The usual debate points (who will ride it?, how much will a ticket cost -- both Sue and La Tarone seem settled on imagining that the ticket price would be cast in an "Amtrak" cost framework, not the more plausible "commuter rail" system framework which tends to be vastly cheaper, but I digress) came up, which is fine and well.

Congressman Matt Cartright

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic

What had them going might have been this article that appeared in today's The Times Tribune. Turns out a one US Congressman, Matt Cartwright who represents the Moosic area, has decided to embrace the edgy vision of getting the Lackawanna Cutoff Line back on a feasibility path. He's organized a meeting for tomorrow at the Inn at Pocono Manor, 2:00 sharp, with some of the biggest says in the matter willing to show up, sit down, and, if not loosely, sort out the logistics after so much time with the issue languishing in dormancy. The Times Tribune rightfully infuses the scale of enthusiasm for this event:

Never before have officials as high up in the state and federal transportation agencies all gathered in one room to discuss the revival of passenger service all the way to Pennsylvania, said Larry Malski, executive director of the Pennsylvania Northeast Regional Railroad Authority.

This makes my week as it should anyone who cares about turning around Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, and indeed all of NEPA. Will there be a tangible plan when everyone gets up and returns to their cars? I doubt we can say that, but we can say that a meeting of minds and an exchange of the possible will taken place over a particular issue that had all but appeared to dry up until now. Damn, this is fine.

Linkage

As Urbanites Move In Crime Will Move Out
wbrail Cutoff
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The Luzerne Bank Building is one example of living NYC high on the (relative) cheap.

This Citizens Voice article is making the rounds today, A New Day Downtown. Itseems people are moving into the high rise lofts that have sprung up in downtown Wilkes-Barre at a respectable clip. We're not talking about the old box buildings that you've come to think of all the "old people" living in such as the Provincial Towers. No, what's being talked about are edgy lofts converted from otherwise abandoned Wilkes-Barre commercial office centers such as the Luzerne Building(money went into the loft conversions, clearly not the website) or the Bank Building. This is exactly the kind of thing I personally would love to see happen to its maximum. It's within the vision scope of this website that Wilkes-Barre downtown become a New York City terminus where people can rail to and from big city work in under an hour and a half. That would transform Public Square and the downtown in general.

Of course some of the social media musings about this development center on the idea (and I strictly mean "idea" - it's not statistically demonstrated that I know of) that downtown is crime-ridden and dangerous. I agree, the area isunder-patrolledweakly confronted by the police or police resources, and the riff-raff that comes to dominate such opportunity is simply doing so. Crime-ridden or not, it has its shaky pockets. Factor in that the area is economically collapsed and double that.

But when Wilkes-Barre is a true Philadelphia or New York City bedroom community featuring a direct train connection to either, expect those problems to wane. Populating Wilkes-Barre with a free flow of urban working professionals who want New York City work and escape, but not New York City traffic and expense, is the surest way to combat the stigma of downtown ruddiness at its very root.

Will Train to New York Be Safer Than Bus?
wbrail Cutoff
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One of the biggest fall-outs of a stunted Lackawanna Cutoff project is the angst of Pocono home buyers who feel cheated because they hastened their home purchases on the enthusiasm that rail would 'soon' connect the Poconos and New York City. That may happen one day but it's pure folly to speculate when; the project is not seriously on anyone's action agenda. This blog probably represents the hottest talk going on about it today.

This WNEP coverage of today's deadly bus accident on Route 380 includes much expression over the anxiety involved in traversing the roads leading into New York City. I call it a "dangerous highway network" that accidents like this exemplify. Trains have been having their issues lately, sure, but statistically we all know there are thousands of bus and car casualties daily over those of trains. The value of a rail network, which will otherwise not beat road travel times between Wilkes-Barre and New York under the current scantily laid plans for it, will pool more in comfort and the commuter's idea of less risk.

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