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New Jersey Herald - July 21, 1955 issue

Article Subsections

Commuters Say DL&W Blocks County Progress

Sussex County commuters who describe themselves as daily users of "the diesel powered prairie schooners that serve as rolling stock" for the Lackawanna Railroad, this week began digging in for a do or die fight with the railroad company. Last week the Lackawanna filed a petition with the State Public Utilities Commission asking permission to discontinue all passenger service on the Boonton Branch, which serves Sussex County.

This week, the embattled and embittered Sussex County commuters level their first blast at the railroad company's move to cut out service by writing a letter to the PUC urging the commission to "stop coddling the greedy monster who is stifling progress and growth in Sussex County with the stern choice -- Either stay as a constructive factor, rendering adequate service as a common carrier--or get out!"

Full text of the commuters' letter follows:

"We, the undersigned, are year-round commuters from Sussex County and as such travel daily on the diesel powered prairie schooners that serve as rolling stock on the Boonton Branch of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Co. Those of us who have traveled for some years have witnessed steadily rising fares, paralleled by disintegrating service and are not surprised at the railroad's latest proposal to discontinue passenger service entirely on the Sussex County section of the Boonton Branch as certainly there is nothing left to cut.

Development Ahead

"Sussex County is one of the few desirable undeveloped sections adjacent to the New York-Newark metropolitan area. As such it is destined to develop rapidly in the next few years with or without the D. L. & W. However, adequate transportation facilities are an essential to proper development of an area and that in our opinion is rendered impossible by the Lackawanna. The small number of "year rounders" commuting from this beautiful section of our State stands as mute evidence of the few with strong enough backs or sufficiently weak minds to be willing to contend with covered wagon travel in the atomic age. Furthermore, the monstrous "cut-off" prevents the building of modern highways in some parts of the county because of the murderous bottlenecks that would be created by the narrow tunnels through the "cut-off".

Serve--Or Go

"In a sense we wish to join with the railroad in its effort to discontinue passenger service in Sussex County but go further by humbly urging that action be started immediately to cancel the franchise of the railroad covering at least that section of the Boonton line lying in Sussex County. Surely if a railroad is unwilling to serve its territory, it should not be privileged to foul the countryside with the dust and din of railroading. With the abandonment of the line, and the removal of the rusty rails and gas light era coaches, progress could be started in the development of a 20th century system of transportation. A philosophy of curtailment and contraction is incompatible with an expanding economy, and we feel that the welfare and healthy development of Sussex County would be furthered by this suggested action. In many instances, the abandoned roadbed would serve as an excellent means of developing a dual highway system on sections that parallel present highways and then the railroad tunnels through the "cut-off" could be used as highway tunnels.

"It is our feeling that the time has arrived to stop coddling the greedy monster who is stifling progress and growth in Sussex County with the stern choice-- "Either stay as a constructive factor rendering adequate service as a common carrier--or get out."

"We are releasing a copy of this letter to The New Jersey Herald, in the hope that others supposedly served by the "Boonton Branch," in Warren and Morris Counties as well as Sussex will wish to join us in urging this action. We shall recommend the slogan: THE LACKAWANNA MUST GO SO THAT PROGRESS CAN BE MADE.


Sussex County

Commuters' Association."