Smith released the executive summary of the Atlantic City Rail Line Operations Study, which was commissioned for $735,000. The study was prepared by LTK Engineering Services.
The Atlantic City line, operating between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, is the least-traveled of NJT's rail lines, averaging about 3,450 riders per weekday. Part of the reason, rail planners say, is infrequent service.
Only 12 trains operate in each direction daily, with passengers required to wait as long as 21/2 hours between trains at midday.
The LTK study considered six scenarios for increasing service and revenue, including the possibility of adding a station at the Woodcrest PATCO station in Cherry Hill and another by the Atlantic City International Airport.
Ridership could be increased to 10,860 passengers per day by 2035, if those stations were added and hourly train service was offered in each direction between Atlantic City and Philadelphia, the study said.
Building a station at Woodcrest would cost about $7.5 million, and a station near the airport would cost about $28 million, the study said.
To build the two stations and buy the locomotives and cars necessary for hourly service would cost about $145 million, the study said. It would cost $33 million a year to operate the service, and fares would cover about $12 million, or 37 percent, of the cost.
That compares with the current operating cost of $23 million a year, with fares covering 22 percent of the cost.