Thursday, June 4, 2009

More Wrongheaded Idiocy

I'm pretty sure it's clear I hate greenies at this point. If not, the Hunterdon County Democrat provides several pretty clear reasons.

Basically, NJ Transit wants to build a bus and rail station in Clinton Township, and the mayor and town council are against it. Why? Sprawl. Environmental crap. Supposedly heavy traffic.

Yeaaaaah. See, here's the breakdown. We'll start with that, as we do and should with everything.

The Raritan Valley Line is the red-headed stepchild of the NJ Transit rail lines. It used to be a supplement to the Northeast Corridor (nee Penn Central) line, running from 30th Street Station over to West Trenton, and running from West Trenton to North Branch, onto Newark. Today, after fifty years of craptacular economics for the rail industry as a whole, the RVL bypasses the West Trenton branch and instead heads out west to Annandale and High Bridge. The line terminates at Newark Penn Station because the line is the only one in North Jersey to remain unelectrified and so must use diesel-powered trains to move around, which would not be such a grand limitation but for the fact that restrictions on the Hudson Tunnels limit its use to electrified rolling stock (another word for trains) only. In English, the trains are gas-powered and not electrified, and because they're not electrified they can't use the tunnels. Eventually, within a year or so, this won't be an issue because NJ Transit, in their quest to break down walls between stations and allow riders to complete more one-seat (no transfer) rides, will be introducing hybrid trains into their fleet that will allow the RVL trains to operate on diesel or biodiesel until Newark, and continue onwards after that on electrified rails.

Some of the current rolling stock are quieter and more enviro-friendly than others, which means the plumes of smoke and thunderous roar of the trains are far less intense than on other trains. You can tell the difference if you're driving alongside them at any point - the newer trains look, well, awesome and are sleek and futuristic and are made of win. The older trains look like pretty much every picture you've ever seen of freight trains, only with dour, craptastic NJ Transit black/grey colors. Nothing says LET'S RIDE THE SUPERTRAIN TO AWESOMETOWN like black/grey. No wonder people don't like commuting.

Getting back to my point, the fact is that the old and busted crapliners outnumber the new hotness supertrains by a sizable margin. New Hotness are set aside for the morning and evening rushes, but after that it's just the Old & Busted for the rest of the day. The people along the route are likely pissed off at having to deal with these things at all hours of the day and night. I can understand that.

There are solutions to such problems - moving away from the train, pressuring NJ Transit to get more of the modern (quieter) trains, asking them to limit service past a certain hour, have the town erect sound barriers near the train... but none of those options matter very much.

The problem is the fact that people want to control others. They really don't care about the train and its noise, because such things go hand-in-hand with living near a train station at all. No matter how quiet it gets, it'll never be totally silent. These people are fine having the ability to leave their little quiet town on the other side of the state - they just don't want others coming into their little quiet town because they think (mistakenly, of course) that will increase the rate of crime and bring disease, famine, pestilince, Ragnarok, Cthulu and the Cloverfield monster. Oh, and aliens too. Not those "illegals" we keep hearing about, although they'll probably show up in droves too - no, the ones from the movies with the city ships and the Resistance Is Futile bumper stickers and the brain eating and the hey hey hey it hurts!

Yes, that's a tad over the top. That's the point. These people are going nuts over nothing.

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