Amidst record ridership, some thoughts on PATHBy
Every few weeks, I have to take a reverse commute on the PATH trains from the World Trade Center out to Jersey City. It’s a quick ride on a smooth and clean system, and I’m always floored by the rush of people leaving the station in Lower Manhattan. It can be tough to fight against the crowds flocking to work in the morning and for good reason too as PATH has announced record ridership for the first half of 2012.
From January 1 through June 30, PATH ridership was up four percent over the record levels set in 2011. Ridership during that time exceed 39 million, and the interstate subway is on pace to see an increase of eight percent over 2009. That’s some rapid growth in the face of over $1 billion of investment in rolling stock, the signal system and station modernizations.
“The PATH rail system is a critical component of the Port Authority’s interstate transportation network, and we have invested more than $1 billion to modernize PATH’s stations, trains and signal system to make sure it remains a preferred mode of travel between New Jersey and New York,” Port Authority Chairman David Samson said. “This continued record growth in ridership confirms our investment is working to attract millions of additional riders.”
According to PATH, those stations with the largest percentages of growth were Harrison and Christopher Street, with each topping a 10 percent jump. Even as 56 percent of all riders entered in the system’s New Jersey stations, 23rd St., 9th St. and the World Trade Center all saw growths of over five percent. Grove Street too enjoyed a 5.7 percent jump in ridership. Overall, ridership in New York City rose by five percent while ridership in New Jersey went up by three percent.
In the coming years, the Port Authority is working to accommodate 10-car trains on the WTC-to-Newark route and will improve the signal system to allow for more frequent service. And yet I want more. PATH has become an integral part of the commute from New Jersey to Manhattan, and it’s a system that should be better integrated into New York’s own interborough subway. Riders can use only pay-per-ride Metrocards on PATH, and transfers between the two systems are clunky.
Once upon a time, the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company had plans to expand their tunnels east from 9th Street to Astor Place and north from 33rd St. to Grand Central. Those stations and that routing never saw the light of day, and PATH, on the New York City side, has remained stagnant for decades. For now, it can extend its tentacles further afield into New Jersey as an expensive new station arises at the World Trade Center site. Maybe we should dream bigger with PATH.