N.J. Transit Buys Additional Multilevel Vehicles

NEWARK, N.J. — The N.J. Transit Board of Directors approved the purchase of 50 additional Multilevel Vehicles to help meet increasing ridership demand on the corporation’s busiest commuter rail lines.

“These vehicles have helped provide a near-term solution to capacity demands while we, in partnership with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, advance a long-term response to ridership growth through the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) tunnel project,” said Governor Jon Corzine, who this morning rode an MLV train on the Northeast Corridor.

The purchase will bring N.J. Transit’s total number of the popular rail cars to 329. The cars offer 15-20 percent more seating capacity than the newest single-level cars in the fleet and feature comfortable interiors that were designed with customer input.

“With their distinctive profile and additional seating capacity, these vehicles make a strong statement that New Jersey is serious about public transportation and committed to environmentally responsible ways to keep our residents and the economy on the move,” said N.J. Transit Chairman and Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri.

A total of 170 MLVs have already been delivered, of which 143 are in service as of today, allowing N.J. Transit to reassign newer cars to other lines and retire the oldest cars in the rail fleet.

The MLVs, introduced on the Northeast Corridor in December 2006 as N.J. Transit’s first-ever multilevel vehicles, also operate on the North Jersey Coast Line, the Morris & Essex Lines and Montclair-Boonton lines’ MidTOWN DIRECT trips, and just last month debuted on the Raritan Valley Line.

“Exercising options in the contract with Bombardier Transportation to purchase additional vehicles was an easy decision given our ridership demands. In addition, we getting a great bargain considering we locked in the price back in 2002 for 13,000 more peak period seats,” said N.J. Transit Executive Director Richard Sarles.

Adding capacity is not as simple as adding cars to trains or adding trains to the schedule, because train lengths are constrained by station platform length and train trips are limited by track capacity, especially between New Jersey and New York where all available peak-period slots currently are filled by N.J. Transit and Amtrak trains.

Each of the new cars features an upper and lower seating level, as well as an open, intermediate “mezzanine” level at each end of the car—making the cars truly “multilevel.” The mezzanine features plenty of space for customers who opt to stand—complete with padded leaning stations—as well as areas for wheelchairs, carts, strollers and luggage. Fully accessible restrooms are found in this area on more than half of the cars and feature refined finishes and a generous amount of space.

MLVs also provide roomy seating with 25.27 inches of knee room—a full inch more than Comet V single-level cars—and 2.2 inches more seat width than Comet V seats.

State funding covers the $76 million price for the 50 MLVs and spare parts. Delivery of the 329th car is expected in the spring of 2010.