Merrell Noden ’78, author of our cover story on town-gown relations, could be forgiven if he has dual loyalties. He’s an alum — and a resident of Princeton Borough who has seen his property taxes skyrocket.
As he explains, there are two main issues dividing town from gown: dollars and Dinky. It’s the second that seems to trigger the more emotional response. The University’s plan to develop an arts and transit neighborhood near McCarter Theatre would move the Dinky more than 400 feet south. But to Dinky fans, even worse — sacrilege! — is the proposal under study by New Jersey Transit that the Dinky, considered economically inefficient (and as The New York Times put it in 2002, “as anachronistic as a pair of cordovan wingtips”), be eliminated altogether, in favor of a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that would run on the Dinky’s right-of-way.
As of mid-April, a “Save the Princeton Dinky” Facebook group had more than 1,100 members. Some proposed a protest — a “ride-in.” One posted a theme song: “Love Train,” by the O’Jays. “Dinky, I love you,” wrote one woman. “You made cutting class in the ’80s so easy, economic, adventurous, safe, and transit-friendly.” Another rider leveled the harshest of insults: Without the Dinky, Princeton would be ... suburban! A third went straight for the heart: “Where else can you take a train called the Dinky [and] arrive at Wawa to get your coffee on your way over to the Woo?”
But if you didn’t need tickets or money to board the O’Jays’ love train, not so for the Dinky. And with budget-cutting in full force at New Jersey Transit, Dinky fans may have an uphill ride.
— Marilyn H. Marks *86