Amtrak, MTA, NJ Transit, Port Authority & RPA on Expanding Trans-Hudson Capacity

As delays and interruptions become more frequent in the century-old North River Tunnels connecting New York and New Jersey, and the political debate grows louder over who will pay for the two new tunnels proposed by Amtrak, some context on the issue is helpful.

In May, the Port Authority, MTA, NJ Transit, Regional Plan Association, and Amtrak jointly convened a Trans-Hudson Summit to discuss the needs, challenges, and solutions for NY & NJ transit infrastructure. The Port Authority also prepared a Profile of the Regional Interstate Transportation Network, a snapshot of trends and market patterns:

Manhattan’s extraordinary concentration of high-value jobs would not be possible without its access to a huge, diverse, and talented labor market over a large geographic area that its extensive transit network makes possible. Efficient public transit is essential to providing the regional mobility needed to sustain its economic competitiveness. And interstate commuting to employment sites outside Manhattan has been growing as well. Access to skilled workers means gains in productivity and profitability for area businesses and a growing standard of living for the entire region.

Continues…

NYC Subway Maps Have a Long History of Including PATH, NJ Waterfront

I published the New York & New Jersey Subway Map as a proof-of-concept to demonstrate how a single map could give people a comprehensive, harmonized view of the transit options available throughout the region. It is based on the design of the New York City Subway Map, one of the most recognizable transit wayfinding tools in the world, and incorporates subway, light rail, regional and intercity rail, and ferry services. Tens of thousands of riders now use the New York & New Jersey Subway Map to help them navigate the NYC metro area.

Closeup look at design of the New York & New Jersey Subway Map

The New York & New Jersey Subway Map includes transit services that connect the growing urban population just across the Hudson River.

The precedent for thinking about the New York & New Jersey region in a unified way parallels its rise as an economic and transportation hub in the early 20th century. In its 1917 ruling in the New York Harbor case, the Interstate Commerce Commission declared, “Historically, geographically, and commercially New York and the industrial district in the northern part of the state of New Jersey constitute a single community.” The ICC’s decision spurred the creation of an independent government entity in 1921 to replace the fractious rule of the private railroads over the port district. A century later, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey also operates the region’s airports, bus terminals, bridges & tunnels crossing state lines, and the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) subway connecting New York & New Jersey.

The subway maps created to help people navigate the new transit systems built throughout New York City included the Hudson Waterfront and transit connections between New York and New Jersey. Although the Hudson & Manhattan railroad (the precursor to PATH) was still under construction and revenue service wouldn’t begin until 1908, the 1906 Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) map showed the New Jersey waterfront, with Hoboken and Jersey City labeled, and ferry routes connecting NY & NJ.

IRT 1906 subway map

After the IRT, BMT, and Independent Subway System (IND) were consolidated into a single system, the 1944 NYC Board of Transportation map included the Jersey City waterfront, with the H&M lines labeled “Hudson Tubes (to Newark)”, the system’s stations in Manhattan, and Exchange Place station in New Jersey. Continues…

34 St-Hudson Yards: A Look at the 7 Subway Extension to the Far West Side

At the MTA board committee meetings this week, officials showed a preview of the 34 St-Hudson Yards station, due to open later this spring. The station entrance canopy and surrounding park are complete, and the ventilation building will be surrounded by 55 Hudson Yards, a 51-story office tower outlined in yellow. To support the tower, two rows of five caissons are being sunk in the area adjacent to the ventilation building, six of which will be sunk between the two subterranean escalator banks that lead to the station’s mezzanine.

7 Extension - 34 St Hudson Yards exterior

The 7 Train extension to Hudson Yards was funded by New York City using bonds backed by future tax revenues from the new Hudson Yards neighborhood.

34 St – Hudson Yards is not the deepest station in the system, but the station’s escalators span an 84-foot vertical drop, longer than any other in the subway system. For comparison, the escalators at Lexington Ave – 53 St station span a 56-foot vertical drop. Continues…

100 Works Designed and Constructed by Women: Built By Women New York City

In 2014, supported by grants from the New York Building Foundation and the New York Council for the Humanities, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation began a project to identify buildings, structures, and built environments in New York City that are designed or constructed by women. The criteria:

The structure or built environment must have a woman who was directly responsible for leading the design (architecture, engineering, or landscape) or who led the construction, either from the development or construction management team. Projects must be completed or have broken ground and located in New York City.

100 Works Designed and Constructed by Women: Built By Women New York City

A jury of eight leading women in architecture, landscape, engineering, design, and planning identified 100 civic, commercial, cultural, institutional, landscape, mixed-use, residential, transportation, and urban design projects, and in December, they published Built By Women New York City (BxW NYC). This is a wonderful celebration of the women who have made New York City what it is today, and the foundation is planning a series of public events to draw greater attention to these important works: Continues…

Space Under Hoboken’s New 14th Street Viaduct Will Anchor Neighborhood Development

In 2011, Hudson County broke ground on a $55M project to replace the 14th Street Viaduct, an elevated structure connecting Hoboken with the Jersey City Heights and Union City. The original viaduct, completed in 1908, had become structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, and after the 2007 collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Hudson County accelerated plans to replace the aging structure. Major construction of the new viaduct structure and roadway wrapped up in mid-2014:

The new Viaduct is an eight-span, 1177-foot long structure, constructed entirely of multi-steel girders and includes extensive traffic improvements such as modern LED 12-inch traffic signals for the intersections at each end. In terms of total cost, the 14th Street Viaduct replacement was the most expensive—and perhaps the most challenging—local roads project in Hudson County history.

14th Street Viaduct from Parking Structure - 2014

In 2010, Hudson County and the City of Hoboken unveiled plans for public spaces underneath the new viaduct, including multi-use spaces spanning two blocks, a basketball/roller hockey court, and a pocket park surrounded by a children’s playground and dog park. Continues…

Proposed Overnight PATH Cuts Indefinitely Tabled by Port Authority

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney and New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto announced today that Port Authority Chairman John Degnan has committed to indefinitely table the proposal eliminate overnight PATH service that was included in a report prepared by Governors’ Christie and Cuomo’s special panel. The move followed strong opposition by local, state, and federal officials, and a unanimous vote by the Hoboken City Council on a resolution opposing service cuts.

In a letter sent to the two state officials after meeting with them on January 13th, Degnan said he had agreed to their request in an earlier meeting to not move forward with any consideration of the proposed cuts, and noted, “the Panel’s suggestion has not even been presented to the board of commissioners.”

Mayors of the two Hudson County cities that would have been affected by the proposed cuts issued statements thanking Degnan for taking the proposal out of consideration. Continues…

Hoboken City Council Votes 8-0 to Approve Resolution Opposing Governors’ PATH Cuts

At its meeting Wednesday night, the Hoboken City Council voted unanimously to pass a resolution supporting Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s statement opposing cuts to overnight PATH service, and registering the Council’s opposition to reductions in overnight service. The resolution was sponsored by new Council President Ravi Bhalla, and Council Member Peter Cunningham. Council members Bhalla, Cunningham, Doyle, Giattino, Mason, Mello, Occhipinti, and Russo voted in favor. Council Member Castellano was not present.

Full text of the resolution as passed: Continues…

PATH Cuts Update: Press Conference Monday, Hoboken City Council Vote Wednesday

Federal, state, and local officials, along with labor advocates, will hold a press conference Monday afternoon to call for cancellation of a proposal to cut overnight PATH train service. According to a media advisory issued Sunday night by the office of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, the press conference will be held at 2:00PM outside the Grove St. PATH Station, at the corner of Columbus and Newark Avenues in Jersey City. Elected officials expected to attend include Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, along with Congressman Albio Sires, New Jersey Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto, and New Jersey Senators Sandra Cunningham, Nicholas Sacco, and Brian Stack (who also serves as mayor of Union City). Analilia Mejia, Director of NJ Working Families Alliance, and Ken McNamara, President of CWA Local 1037, are also expected to attend.

The Hoboken City Council is expected to vote Wednesday night on a resolution supporting Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s statement opposing the proposed cuts, and signaling the Council’s opposition to the recommendation by the Governors’ special panel to cut overnight service. The resolution was introduced by Council Members Ravi Bhalla and Peter Cunningham.

The controversial proposal to cut overnight service was included in a report released the evening of Saturday, December 27 by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, along with their veto of a reform bill that had been unanimously passed by the legislatures of both states. It has sparked widespread opposition on both sides of the Hudson from transit riders, the mayors of cities with PATH service, federal and state lawmakers, and the PATH Riders’ Council, a group of transit riders who formally advise the Port Authority:

The PATH Riders’ Council is strongly opposed to any reduction in PATH service that would adversely impact the communities it serves. We vigorously oppose the suggestion by the special panel convened by Governors Christie and Cuomo to eliminate weekday and weekend overnight service. The proposal itself comes at a time when PATH is experiencing record ridership numbers, when jobs and commuting patterns no longer follow the traditional 9-5pm, and when governments throughout the region and country are investing – not divesting – in transit. The $10M cost reduction – a tiny portion of the Port Authority’s $7.8B budget – would be devastating for communities on both sides of the Hudson, especially for hard-working New Yorkers and New Jerseyans in industries like construction, healthcare, and hospitality who rely on PATH to come home from an overnight job or commute to a job with an early morning start.

Update on Governors’ Proposal to Cut PATH: Riders’ Council, Public, Lawmakers Respond

Transit riders and lawmakers on both sides of the Hudson have reacted swiftly and strongly to the suggestion by Governors Christie and Cuomo to cut overnight PATH service between 1:00-5:00 AM. The PATH Riders’ Council issued a statement strongly opposing elimination of service, and PRC Vice Chair Stewart Mader spoke to PIX11’s Greg Mocker about the need for legislative oversight of reforms:

Early Tuesday morning, NJ.com reporter Brian Donohue interviewed riders who rely on the trains that run between 1-5AM:

Take a ride on the PATH train at that time of night, talk to the working stiffs who rely on the PATH to get to their service industry jobs. Meet a few IT workers who keep the servers running for Manhattan firms 24/7. Or the Wall Streeters whose long hours and high salaries are pumping millions into the boomtown that is Jersey City these days. Speak with them and you’ll see what a downright dastardly idea this is. In today’s video, I did just that – I skipped sleep last night to get a look at how the idea is going over in the tubes under the Hudson River in the pre-dawn hours.

US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the Governors should not use reform as a “Trojan Horse’ for cutting transit:

As someone who has consistently fought for resources to help New Jersey commuters and expand our public transit systems, I have serious concerns with the Governors’ proposal to privatize PATH or cut system services. The notion of using Port Authority reform as a ‘Trojan Horse’ for transit cutbacks is ill-conceived. More than anywhere else in the nation, our region depends on transit for our economic viability and quality of life.

Menendez told WCBS880’s Steve Scott: “The global economy doesn’t stop at 1AM, and neither should the PATH”.

New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-NJ) told the Star-Ledger that he opposes ending overnight PATH service, and plans to meet with Port Authority Chair John Degnan. Sweeney is the highest-ranking official in either state to oppose the plan, and he is said to be weighing a run for Governor in 2017. Continues…

Statement from PATH Riders’ Council on Governors’ Proposed Overnight Service Cuts

The PATH Riders’ Council issued a statement today opposing the proposed cancellation of weekday and weekend overnight PATH Train service between New York and New Jersey (Ed. note: Stewart Mader, Vice Chair of the PATH Riders’ Council, is also editor of Gotham & Hudson):

December 29, 2014 – The PATH Riders’ Council is strongly opposed to any reduction in PATH service that would adversely impact the communities it serves. We vigorously oppose the suggestion by the special panel convened by Governors Christie and Cuomo to eliminate weekday and weekend overnight service. The proposal itself comes at a time when PATH is experiencing record ridership numbers, when jobs and commuting patterns no longer follow the traditional 9-5pm, and when governments throughout the region and country are investing – not divesting – in transit. The $10M cost reduction – a tiny portion of the Port Authority’s $7.8B budget – would be devastating for communities on both sides of the Hudson, especially for hard-working New Yorkers and New Jerseyans in industries like construction, healthcare, and hospitality who rely on PATH to come home from an overnight job or commute to a job with an early morning start.

It would be devastating to a region that relies on mass transit more than any other in the country. Hoboken, one of the cities served by PATH, has the highest rate of transit ridership in the nation at 56%. Jersey City has the second highest rate of transit usage (45.8%) among cities with 100,000 more residents, second only to New York City’s 55.7%, according to the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey.

PATH is the lifeblood for communities and working families on both sides of the Hudson who rely on the system 24/7 to get to work, to school, to see family and friends. To eliminate overnight service at a time when more and more families rely on this service is simply unconscionable.

Ya-Ting Liu, Chair
Stewart Mader, Vice Chair
PATH Riders’ Council

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