For a while, commuters have complained about service on New Jersey Transit’s Pascack Valley Line, with little response from transit officials. Ultimately, there are several simple, but also complicated reasons why the line is the way it is today.
The single largest challenge that faces the line is the basic infrastructure that the trains use every day. Firstly, the line is composed of a single track with a few sidings. This in it of itself severely restricts the number of trains that can run on the line. Secondly, similar to other New Jersey Transit lines in Bergen County, the PVL is not electrified, requiring the use of diesel locomotives. This factor doesn’t necessarily affect service, but it is a key difference between other New Jersey Transit lines.
Another challenge facing the Pascack Valley Line is its awkward ownership structure. New Jersey Transit owns the entire line with in New York and New Jersey, but is only directly responsible for service within New Jersey. Metro-North has a contract with NJ Transit to run both the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis Line. New Jersey Transit provides all staff and almost all equipment, but Metro-North does contribute some locomotives and passenger cars. Nearly all stations in New York are owned and operated by Metro-North. Since multiple states and agencies are involved, that sometimes makes it difficult to assign blame for incidents on the line.
In all, it is clear that there are many different issues facing the Pascack Valley Line, both simple and complex. However, it is fair to say that there are actionable steps New Jersey Transit can take to improve the quality of service.