Shuttered entrances, broken elevators, weathered paint, dim lighting, and loose garbage have been the scene at many of New Jersey Transit Newark Light Rail stations for years now. Underground stations like Military Park and Washington Street have a cold, dark, dank vibe that feels like something from a former Soviet Republic. Reflecting, the city’s internal inequalities, above ground stations between downtown and the more affluent parts of the North Ward like the Park Avenue and Norfolk Stations are in a state of near complete disrepair (with visible construction debris in sections). None of this even begins to address portions of the route that are giant dumping grounds for the residential buildings with their backs to what used to be the Morris Canal.
Even worse, the Military Park, Warren Street/NJIT, Norfolk Street, and Park Avenue stations are not accessible to people with disabilities, the elderly or people with small children in strollers.
It is time for that to change. Now is the time for bold upgrades. For example, New Jersey Transit could partner with Newark Arts to further expand the city’s public art initiatives to outdoor stations and the old canal’s stretches with large retainer walls that make perfect spaces for murals. This would quickly turn stations that are an eyesore into more pleasant places for commuters and become highly visible symbols of progress.
In a city with one of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country, the state of our public transportation facilities are of paramount importance not only for the basic function of moving people around, but also for the psychology of residents and commuters alike. Fixing the spaces that people see and use the most is a no-brainer.
You can make your voice heard by sharing feedback with New Jersey Transit here.
The Board of Editors