ATLANTIC CITY — NJ Transit's Atlantic City Line shuts down on Wednesday through at least the end of the year to allow for positive train control work.

The final run was early Wednesday morning, as commuters who take the line north through Absecon, Lindenwold, Cherry Hill, and Pennsauken into Philadelphia will have to utilize one of the alternatives in place during the closure. Riders will also be offered a 25 percent discount on rail tickets that will be honored on NJ Transit buses and the PATCO high-speed rail system.

Off-peak one-seat Raritan Valley Line (RVL) service will temporarily originate/terminate at Newark Penn Station beginning Monday, Sept. 10.

An exact date of completion for both projects was not given by NJ Transit, but Executive Director Kevin Corbett has said the contracts include heavy penalties if certain deadlines are not met.

"We have made substantial progress on our PTC project and we're continuing to ramp up installation. As we push to complete PTC installation, I ask for customers’ patience during this process as the end result is a safer railroad for everyone," Corbett said in a statement about the project.

NJ Transit faces a Dec. 31 deadline to complete installation or face the possibility of being prohibited from offering service into New York Penn Station.

At a press conference on Tuesday urging President Donald Trump to ensure federal funding for the Gateway Tunnel project, state transportation commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti and Gov. Phil Murphy said "just north of 60 percent" of the PTC installation is complete.

Critics see the closure of the line as a means to permanently shut it down.

"I know there’s been concern and skepticism that this is a bait and switch. It is not. We’re not putting millions of dollars of PTC (positive train control) equipment in only to not start service again," the executive director told the Press of Atlantic City during a meet-and-greet at the Atlantic City station in August.

The Atlantic City Line last year had an average daily ridership of less than 2,000 boardings, a number that has been falling every year. The Atlantic City station has less than 600 boardings on an average weekday. Another 490 board in Philadelphia and about 300 board in Lindenwold. By comparison, the River Line between Camden and Trenton had about 9,000 weekday boardings in 2014.

NJ Transit also noted that signals at crossings along the line should still be obeyed as equipment will still be moving along the tracks.

Atlantic City Line riders have the following options during the closure:

  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 340 (Lindenwold Atlantic City Express Shuttle) will operate as an express route between Atlantic City Bus Terminal and Lindenwold PATCO, making stops only at the Absecon and Egg Harbor City rail stations. Service will operate daily, throughout the day, at a similar frequency to the ACRL.
  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 340 (Cherry Hill — Pennsauken — WRTC Shuttle) will operate as an express route, connecting the Cherry Hill Station with Pennsauken Transit Center and the Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden. At WRTC, cross-honoring will be in effect with PATCO (for travel to 8th/Market Station), with NJT buses to Center City Philadelphia, and with the No. 551 express bus to Atlantic City. Service will operate daily, throughout the day, at a similar frequency to the ACRL. This shuttle service ends at midnight daily.
  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 417 (Pennsauken Transit Center — 30th St. Station Philadelphia) will cross-honor rail tickets and passes with an origin or destination of Philadelphia. Customers must have a rail ticket or pass with a Philadelphia origin or destination for travel on this route at no additional charge.
  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 555 (Avandale Park-Ride — 30th St. Station Philadelphia) will cross-honor rail tickets and passes with an origin or destination of Philadelphia. Customers must have a rail ticket or pass with a Philadelphia origin or destination for travel on this route at no additional charge.
  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 551 (Express) will cross-honor rail tickets with an origin or destination of Atlantic City or Philadelphia and will be accepted at Atlantic City Bus Terminal (AC Bus Terminal), Avandale Park-Ride (Sicklerville), Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC), Camden and Greyhound Bus Terminal (10th and Filbert streets, Philadelphia).
  • NJ Transit Bus Route No. 554 will cross-honor all rail tickets and passes and provide hourly service to/from all rail stations between Atlantic City and Lindenwold.
  • All NJT bus routes serving Center City Philadelphia from Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden — These routes will cross-honor rail tickets and passes with an origin or destination of Philadelphia. Customers must have a rail ticket or pass with a Philadelphia origin or destination for travel on these routes at no additional charge.
  • PATCO (Lindenwold, Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden and 8th St./Market St. ONLY) — PATCO will cross-honor rail tickets and passes with an origin or destination of Philadelphia at Lindenwold, WRTC in Camden and 8th St./Market St. in Philadelphia for service to/from Philadelphia. Customers must have a rail ticket or pass with a Philadelphia origin or destination for travel on PATCO at no additional charge. Customers should retain their rail tickets and passes for cross honoring on PATCO.
  • River Line — Tickets with an origin or destination of Philadelphia will be accepted for travel between any two stations on the River LINE

NJ Transit said riders should continue to purchase rail tickets and passes as normal to receive a 25 percent discount and to take advantage of cross-honoring. Parking will still be available at the Atlantic City station.

Are you an Atlantic City Line rider? How are you getting around the closure? Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.