If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. But for Northeast Pennsylvanians, the more
fundamental problem is simply getting to New York City.
Driving to New York rarely is a joy ride due to congestion, coupled with the costs of bridge or tunnel tolls
Buses are a reliable option but travel times have increased in recent years due to congestion around and
in New York City.
Trains are available, but only by first finding other means to get to stations in New Jersey or upstate
Passenger rail from Scranton has not been available for about 45 years. And, about a quarter century’s
worth of discussions, feasibility studies and political advocacy to revive it all have come to nothing, even
through local development officials once targeted the restoration to 2007—a decade ago.
Yet the idea lives, Larry Malski, the president of the Northeast Regional Railroad Authority who has
shepherded the restoration of freight railroad service in the region, insists that passenger rail is a real
possibility. The authority plans a new study to update cost estimates for reconstruction of the needed
rail lines through the Poconos into New Jersey, and for operation of the passenger service.
Mr. Malski is not alone in his optimism. U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, a Lackawanna County Democrat, also
is on board.
He is a newly appointed member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, the chairman of
which is U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, a New Jersey Republican from the district on the opposite side
of the Delaware River that includes the proposed rail route. Due partially to Mr. Frelinghuysen’s
advocacy, restoration of 7.3 miles of track is underway.
Meanwhile, a consensus has emerged in Congress for increased transportation infrastructure spending.
President-elect Donald Trump has advocated a $1 trillion program.
For Northeast Pennsylvania, the issue is not simply convenient travel but economic development, the
opportunity to use rail to better connect the region to booming New York City and northern New Jersey.
Doing so would create job opportunities in those areas for local residents and make Northeast
Pennsylvania more attractive to companies in those regions.
Reviving the passenger rail idea is a good step. Here’s hoping, at the dawn of a new year, that the
renewed effort produces more than a study.