Princeton station (NJ Transit)

Coordinates: 40°20′32″N 74°39′32″W / 40.3421°N 74.6589°W / 40.3421; -74.6589
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The 2014 station pictured from across the street.
General information
LocationAlexander Street,
1 block south of University Place
Princeton, New Jersey 08540
Coordinates40°20′32″N 74°39′32″W / 40.3421°N 74.6589°W / 40.3421; -74.6589
Owned byPrinceton University
Operated byNJ Transit
Line(s)Princeton Branch
Platforms1 side platform
ConnectionsBus transport: NJT Bus: 605
Bus transport: Princeton University Tiger Transit: Route 4, Route 5
Bus transport: Princeton Free-B Shuttle [1]
Bicycle facilitiesYes
ArchitectRick Joy
Other information
Fare zone19[2]
Rebuilt1918, 2014
FY 2017814 (average weekday boardings)
Preceding station NJ Transit Following station
Terminus Princeton Branch Princeton Junction
Former services
Preceding station Pennsylvania Railroad Following station
Terminus Princeton Branch Penns Neck
Princeton Railroad Station (1918)
1918 station (2003 photo)
Princeton station (NJ Transit) is located in Mercer County, New Jersey
Princeton station (NJ Transit)
Princeton station (NJ Transit) is located in New Jersey
Princeton station (NJ Transit)
Princeton station (NJ Transit) is located in the United States
Princeton station (NJ Transit)
LocationPrinceton, New Jersey, USA
Coordinates40°20′37″N 74°39′34″W / 40.3435°N 74.6594°W / 40.3435; -74.6594
ArchitectAlexander C. Shand
Architectural styleCollegiate Gothic
Part ofPrinceton Historic District (ID75001143[3][4][a])
MPSOperating Passenger Railroad Stations TR
NJRHP No.1742[5]
Significant dates
Designated CPJune 27, 1975[6]
Designated NJRHPMarch 17, 1984

Princeton is the northern terminus of the Princeton Branch commuter rail service operated by NJ Transit (NJT), and is located on the Princeton University campus in Princeton, New Jersey. At the branch's southern end at Princeton Junction, connections are available to NJT's Northeast Corridor Line and peak-hour Amtrak trains. The shuttle train between the two stations is known as the "Dinky",[7] and has also been known as the "PJ&B", for "Princeton Junction and Back".[8] Now running 2.7 mi (4.3 km) along a single track, it is the shortest scheduled commuter rail line in the United States.[9][10] Initial studies have been conducted to add a bus transitway along the Dinky right-of-way as part of a proposed bus rapid transit system.

Service on the Princeton Branch was suspended from October 14, 2018 through May 11, 2019, replaced by shuttle buses, as part of NJT's systemwide service reductions during the installation and testing of positive train control.[11][12]

Plans to relocate Princeton station 460 ft (140 m) south, proposed by the university in 2006 and approved by NJT and the Princeton Regional Planning Board, were met with opposition from some commuters, residents, alumni, and transportation advocates. The historic 1918 train station closed permanently on August 23, 2013. Approximately 1,200 ft (370 m) to the southeast, a temporary station operated from August 26, 2013 through November 9, 2014, accompanied by various bus routes shuttling among the old station, the temporary station, and Princeton Junction.[13][14] The new permanent Princeton station, designed by architect Rick Joy, opened on November 17, 2014, with construction continuing on a complex of arts and dining buildings in the surrounding area.[15][16][17][18] The new station includes a Wawa store, which originally opened in 1974 next to the old station.[19][20]


1865 location (c. 1910 postcard)

The original 1865 location of Princeton station, in what became the university's Blair Courtyard, 0.15 mi (0.24 km) south of Nassau Street, was replaced by the 1918 station, built on a site 0.25 mi (0.40 km) further south.[21][22] The historic 1918 station was constructed when the branch was part of the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) under the direction of architect-engineer Alexander C. Shand, who had also overseen construction of the now-demolished Philadelphia Broad Street Station. Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style, the 1918 Princeton station contained a stone station house, a stone freight house, and a canopy-covered platform.[22] The station has been owned by several different parties since the PRR era: Penn Central (1968–1976), Conrail (1976–June 1984), New Jersey Department of Transportation, New Jersey Transit Rail Operations (to October 1984), and Princeton University.[23][24] It was listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places[25] and the National Register of Historic Places[4] in 1984 as part of the Operating Passenger Railroad Stations Thematic Resource.[26][a]

Relocation controversy[edit]

In 2006, Princeton University announced its intention to construct a new arts center, calling for the replacement of the 1918 station house, the shortening of the trackage right-of-way, and the creation of a new terminus 460 ft (140 m) to the south.[27][28][29][30] Rail advocates opposed the relocation, fearing that access to the new station would be less convenient, resulting in decreased ridership that could "threaten the train's existence."[31] The proposal prompted protest from residents, students, faculty and alumni, and led to the creation of the organization Save the Dinky.[32]

In October 2010, the Princeton Regional Planning Board passed a resolution supporting the continuation of train service.[33] On October 3, 2011, Save the Dinky and four local residents filed suit against the university and NJT to stop the move.[34] Meanwhile, the borough, township, and university prepared a memo of understanding in which the school promised to fund a transit study and provide other benefits in exchange for rezoning for the combined arts/transit project.[35]

The station house has been the property of the university since 1984, when it purchased it from NJT, with guarantees of public use. That year it was listed on the state historic register (ID#1742) and in a thematic survey for the National Register of Historic Places.[6][a] In 2012, NJT requested abandonment of that public use from the state Historic Preservation Office.[25] Save the Dinky contended that the move would breach the original agreement when the property was transferred, would cause inconvenience, and would be poor planning.[36] The university considered it to be a necessary improvement for redevelopment of the neighborhood.[27]

Current 2014 station platform

In December 2012, the Regional Planning Board gave approval for the project to proceed.[37] In June 2013, NJT approved a property transfer agreement with the university, involving three parcels around the station and the proposed arts center.[38] The U.S. Surface Transportation Board declined a petition to review the planned move.[39] The New Jersey court system dismissed the 2011 lawsuit in December 2013, and a related appeal in March 2014, and a follow-up petition in July 2014,[40][41] and a challenge against the Regional Planning Board in January 2015,[42] and two further appeals in February 2016.[43] As of 2017, weekday ridership was down 20 percent from 2012, the last full year of the old station.[44][45]

Dinky Transitway[edit]

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and New Jersey Transit have conducted studies to develop the Central New Jersey Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit Project. Parts of the proposals call for the construction of a "Dinky Transitway" along the Princeton Branch right-of-way, which would incorporate the rail service and add exclusive bus lanes and a greenway for bicycle and pedestrian traffic.[46][47][48] In 2011, NJT indicated that moving the station would not be detrimental to its planning.[10]

In April 2012, the university submitted a revised plan for the arts and transit center, calling for the extension of the station's freight house onto the right-of-way for possible use as a restaurant. The Regional Planning Board introduced an ordinance requiring the land be preserved for a transportation right-of-way that could eventually extend farther into the central business district at Nassau Street. According to the university, ownership of the trackage would have to change hands in order for the extended transitway to be implemented.[49] Approvals were subsequently issued for converting the station house and the expanded freight house into a pair of restaurants, preserving two original ticket windows for kitchen views, and using the wooden arrival/departure boards as overhead menus.[50] The Dinky Bar & Kitchen opened in the old station in 2016.[51]


  1. ^ a b c The 1918 station was listed as eligible for the National Register and was marked as part of a historic district in the Operating Passenger Railroad Stations Thematic Resources filing. It was not given an individual NRHP registration number. The station lies just to the south of the Princeton Historic District, according to the verbal boundary description from the district's original nomination form.


  1. ^ "Public Transportation — Princeton, New Jersey". Municipality of Princeton. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  2. ^ "Northeast Corridor Timetables" (PDF). New Jersey Transit Rail Operations. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. March 13, 2009.
  4. ^ a b "Princeton Historic District". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  5. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places – Mercer County" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – Historic Preservation Office. April 28, 2015. p. 9. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 16, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2015.
  6. ^ a b "New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places". Identification of Historic Resources. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Historic Preservation Office. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  7. ^ "Princeton University: Train Travel". Princeton University. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
  8. ^ Rosenbaum, Joel; Gallo, Tom (1997). NJ Transit Rail Operations. Railpace Newsmagazine. Archived from the original on October 3, 2011. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  9. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Princeton Junction & Back", People, vol. 11, no. 13, April 2, 1979, retrieved April 15, 2012
  10. ^ a b Schultz, Bonnie (June 9, 2011). "Arts and Transit: NJ Transit Weighs In". Archived from the original on October 18, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (September 20, 2018). "For New Jersey Rail Commuters, a Bad Situation Is About to Get Worse". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  12. ^ "Governor Murphy, NJ Transit Announce ACRL and Princeton Dinky to Resume May 12th" (Press release). New Jersey Transit. April 17, 2019. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2019.
  13. ^ "Princeton Station: Temporary Station Opens Monday, August 26, 2013 as Existing Princeton Station Closes Permanently". New Jersey Transit. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  14. ^ "Arts and Transit Project enters new phase with temporary station". Princeton University. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  15. ^ Davis, Mike (November 17, 2014). "New Dinky station opens to public, part of Princeton U.'s arts and transit project". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  16. ^ Patel, Ushma (November 3, 2014). "New Dinky station to open Nov. 17, marking Arts and Transit Project milestone" (Press release). Princeton University. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  17. ^ "New Princeton Station Opens Monday, November 17, 2014". New Jersey Transit. November 5, 2014. Archived from the original on November 7, 2014. Retrieved November 6, 2014.
  18. ^ Knapp, Krystal (November 17, 2014). "New Dinky Station Opens in Princeton". Planet Princeton. Retrieved November 17, 2014.
  19. ^ We spent 24 hours in a Wawa and wrote it all down, The Daily Princetonian, Dec. 11, 2023
  20. ^ 152 Alexander Street Store #8331
  21. ^ Smith, Richard D. (1997). Princeton. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-7385-5016-9. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Meyer, Richard (July 1981). "Summary of Nomination Information: Princeton RR Station" (PDF). NJ Office of Cultural and Environmental Services. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  23. ^ "PU-NJTransit Sales Agreement" (PDF). October 30, 1984. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  24. ^ Deed between Consolidated Rail Corporation and the State of New Jersey. June 15, 1984.
  25. ^ a b New Jersey Historic Sites Council. "Draft Resolution #2012" (PDF). Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  26. ^ "Operating Passenger Railroad Stations Thematic Resources". National Register of Historic Places. Retrieved June 25, 2012.
  27. ^ a b "FAQ:The Dinky". Arts and Transit Neighborhood. Princeton University. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  28. ^ "Renzo Piano selected to design University Place/Alexander Street neighborhood" (Press release). Princeton University. April 13, 2006. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  29. ^ Hersh, Matthew (November 29, 2006). "It's All Conceptual, but Talk of BRT Has Princeton Buzzing". Town Topics. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  30. ^ Hersh, Matthew (May 23, 2007). "PU Plans Still Relocate Dinky Station". Town Topics. Princeton NJ. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  31. ^ "More on the Dinky". National Association of Railroad Passengers. June 21, 2007. Archived from the original on July 31, 2007. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  32. ^ "Save the Princeton Dinky". Save the Dinky, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2012.
  33. ^ "After meeting, no change to Dinky". The Daily Princetonian. October 1, 2010. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013. Retrieved December 7, 2013.
  34. ^ Knapp, Krystal (October 4, 2011). "Save the Dinky, Residents Sue Princeton University and NJ Transit to Stop Dinky Station Move". Planet Princeton. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  35. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding (Revised Draft)" (PDF). September 28, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  36. ^ "Save the Dinky opposes NJ Transit application to abandon public rights in historic station". Town Topics. February 15, 2012. Retrieved April 10, 2012.
  37. ^ Offredo, Jon (December 19, 2012). "Plans for $300M Princeton University Arts and Transit project, relocation of Dinky train win approval". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  38. ^ Offredo, Jon (June 25, 2013). "NJ Transit board of directors approves land transfer for Dinky station move in Princeton". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved June 26, 2013. Under the transfer struck yesterday, NJ Transit would sell a 0.84 acre parcel located in the former Princeton Township to the university. Parking for the new Dinky station would be built on that parcel. NJ Transit would buy a 0.06 acre parcel from the university in the former township to realign the Princeton branch train tracks. The agency also would trade its existing public transportation easement in the former borough and township for another 1.47-acre easement from the university.
  39. ^ Mulvaney, Nicole (July 25, 2014). "Feds: Approval not needed for NJ Transit to remove portion of Dinky track in Princeton". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  40. ^ McGrath, Brendan (December 31, 2013). "Judge dismisses lawsuit from Save the Dinky group in Princeton". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  41. ^ Mulvaney, Nicole (July 9, 2014). "New Jersey Supreme Court won't review Dinky case at Princeton University". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved August 17, 2014.
  42. ^ Rojas, Cristina (January 7, 2015). "Princeton University secures another victory when judge upholds arts center's site-plan approval". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  43. ^ Merriman, Anna (February 18, 2016). "Dinky riders lose 2 appeals in longtime Princeton train feud". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
  44. ^ "Quarterly Ridership Trends Analysis" (PDF). New Jersey Transit. November 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 19, 2013.
  45. ^ Kiefer, Eric (February 21, 2018). "Here Are New Jersey Transit's Most, Least-Used Train Stations". Retrieved October 15, 2018.
  46. ^ "US 1 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)". Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. 2012. Archived from the original on March 5, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  47. ^ "Fact Sheet 2008". Central New Jersey Route 1 Bus Rapid Transit Project. New Jersey Transit. 2008. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
  48. ^ "Central NJ Route 1 BRT" (PDF). NJ Transit Bus Service: The Next Generation. New Jersey Transit. July 26, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2012.
  49. ^ Cherkin, Bridget (April 25, 2012). "Princeton University submits revised plan for $300M arts and transit center". The Times of Trenton. Retrieved April 25, 2012.
  50. ^ Tanner, Pat (September 2016). "Jim Nawn has big plans for Dinky Bar & Kitchen". Princeton Echo. Archived from the original on October 18, 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2016.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  51. ^ About | Dinky Bar & Kitchen

External links[edit]