The following comes from Williamstown resident Cody Miller
I’m extremely excited that plans are finally moving forward for an 18-mile light-rail line through Camden and Gloucester counties. This plan will be a boon for the region and allow people in Gloucester County to have greater access to transportation in South Jersey. Selfishly, I want it because it’s going to save me time and money by not having to drive to Haddonfield to get on the PATCO to get into Philly. As someone who loves Philly and enjoys a night out with friends every other weekend, I won’t have to break the bank by taking a Lyft or an Uber there and back. Also, who wants to deal with the traffic on RT 42 anyway? In all seriousness it’s much more than me saving money and avoiding the headaches of bumper-to-bumper traffic.
This light rail will lead to more serious economic development in South Jersey. If anyone hasn’t seen the economic development and progress in both Glassboro and Camden City, you need to visit and solicit the many businesses that are popping up all over. I was fortunate enough to be a student at Rutgers Camden when economic development started happening in the city around the university. Also, as a resident of Monroe Township, which is the town over from Glassboro, and a current student at Rowan University, connecting these two towns by means of mass transit to Philadelphia and other areas will spur economic growth and development. As a young professional my lifestyle is on the go and people my age want to get from point A to point B in record time. We also enjoy the benefits of mass transit and connecting major cities together. When this happens, money will flow into these cities, which will lead to more businesses opening and more jobs. Various studies like the Journal of Transport Geography have shown that it has a positive economic impact on cities and the surrounding areas
Also, it will help alleviate traffic and congestion. If anyone knows me, they know how frustrated I get with bumper-to-bumper traffic. How awful is it to sit in traffic heading into Philadelphia in the morning or coming home in the evening? When I used to drive to Rutgers in the morning, I would have to arrive an hour early just to avoid the indigestion and anxiety I would get as people tried switching from lane to lane, all to only wind up back in the same place they started – going nowhere. Imagine not having to deal with that. Also, many people that live in South Jersey work in Philly and this would ease their morning and evening commutes. Plus, less cars equals less wear and tear on roadways. This means spending less tax dollars to fix potholes and we won’t have to continue to make major improvements to roadways. Can you say, “no more raising the gas tax!”.
Another aspect is the increase in property values. According to a study by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), residential properties within a half-mile of public transit have a 4%-24% higher median sale price. Also, in the seven regions that were analyzed in this study, commercial property values saw a median sales price per square foot increase by 5-42 percent. Additionally, according to the study, residents that lived in areas where this transit was available saw an annual savings of $2,500 to $4,400 for a household.
While I understand there are legitimate concerns and misconceptions regarding the GCL light rail, I would encourage people who live in the areas that will be affected to do their research and open their eyes to the benefits that will come from this project. Ultimately, it will lead to economic development, will aid in cutting down traffic and congestion, will increase property values, and save people money. The benefits far outweigh the concerns and South Jersey deserves this long overdue investment.
Cody D. Miller