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New Jersey Transit on Wednesday unveiled a prototype of an expanded light-rail vehicle on the Hudson-Bergen light-rail line.The vehicle features 50 percent more seating capacity than a standard light-rail vehicle and is being offered through a public-private partnership, NJ Transit officials said in a press release.The project was initiated after customer-service surveys indicated rider concerns about crowding on trains, said New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner and NJ Transit Chairman James Simpson."We will be piloting an expanded light-rail vehicle on our system to test the feasibility of converting additional vehicles in our light-rail fleet in order to increase capacity and ensure a comfortable ride for more customers," he said.During the past seven years, passenger trips on the Hudson-Bergen line have doubled to more than 45,000 per day. To address the need for increased capacity, NJ Transit partnered with Kinkisharyo International L.L.C., the original manufacture of the existing vehicle fleet, and Twenty-First Century Rail Corp. to find a cost-effective solution.Development of the five-section prototype drew upon existing resources and spare Hudson-Bergen equipment. The cost for converting additional additional vehicles would be covered jointly by NJ Transit and Kinkisharyo, and is estimated to be significantly less than the cost to purchase new vehicles, agency officials said.The prototype vehicle was placed into service yesterday to test the large number of riders traveling to the Hudson River waterfront to view Fourth of July fireworks.
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