Sandy Update: WTC PATH service to resume Monday


The video atop this post is a 35-second glimpse at the power of floodwaters. During Hurricane Sandy, the storm surge, as we know, knocked out many of the MTA’s services, but New York City’s Transit Authority got most of the subway up and running within a week. In New Jersey, PATH suffered more severe damage and has been slower to come back, but starting Monday morning, the World Trade Center link will reopen.

Over the weekend, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie announced the resumption of limited service between the World Trade Center stop, Exchange Place in Jersey City and points west. The WTC PATH line will run from Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with stops at Newark, Harrison, Journal Square, Grove Street and Exchange Place and in New York at the World Trade Center. Hoboken, though, remains shuttered due to extensive damage.

The Port Authority, a two-state entity, has not been nearly as forthcoming with information about the damage its PATH system sustained or its efforts at repair as the MTA has been. We’ve seen limited images of the tunnels and little word of ongoing work. For thousands of riders who rely on the connection between Exchange Place and the World Trade Center, the restoration of even limited service is welcome news, and that workers put in the hours non-stop over the Thanksgiving weekend should not be overlooked.

The release from the two governors’ offices contained more information on the efforts to restore service. Right now, there is no weekend service so workers can continue to make “the remaining necessary repair work.” Additionally, when the WTC line reenters service on Monday morning, the 33rd St. line will resume trips between Journal Square and 33rd St. with all station stops in Manhattan. On weekends, the 33rd St. line will stop at Harrison and Newark as well.

As to Hoboken, the release sums it up: “Service at the Hoboken station, which saw unprecedented and widespread flooding remains suspended due to the fact vital switching equipment was destroyed and cannot be salvaged. Crews are working 24/7 to replace the signal equipment and restore communications in the tunnels, a process that is expected to take several weeks.”

For now, ferry service and shuttle buses will continue to offer additional transit options for riders from Hoboken who are left without their PATH service, and as repairs continue, it’s imperative to begin discussing ways to avoid these problems in the future. Whether the answer lies in tunnel plugs, flood doors or an as-yet-undiscussed solution, the region needs to begin planning for the next storm now. It’s only a matter of time before we get another.

Meanwhile, we should also remember not to take transit and its workers for granted. The storm hit four weeks ago, and only a few isolated trouble spots remain. Overall, the MTA and, to a similar extent, Port Authority have put in some diligent work restoring the system. We now know what these agencies can accomplish when faced with a crisis. Can they transport those experiences to day-to-day operations and long-term capital construction projects?

Categories : PANYNJ

21 Responses to “Sandy Update: WTC PATH service to resume Monday”

  1. R. Graham says:

    The million dollar question is how good will service be since more repairs need to be made and the service itself will only run in between 5 am to 10 pm on weekdays only?

    • boerumhillscott says:

      Things were OK this morning at World Trad Center, with the usual overcrowding as trains let off passengers.

      At Exchange place, only one of the three escalators were working, meaning long lines for people taking it up, and everyone entering the station having to walk the 128 or so stairs down.

      I think the PA should have clearly spelled out what the escalator situation on their web site.

  2. Nyland8 says:

    There’s no good reason for the PATH System to remain in the hands of the Port Authority. It should be subsumed into the MTA. Being bi-State has nothing to do with it. The only reason the Port Authority owns the PATH tubes is because they were in a position to buy them generations ago when they were up for sale.

    We are one tri-State regional area dependent on NYC for most jobs, most shopping and most entertainment. We should be making regional transportation decisions based on reality, not based on artificial lines drawn by King’s hundreds of years ago.

    • Nathanael says:

      There’s no reason for the NY, NJ, and CT borders, either, but just *try* to get them changed!

      • Bolwerk says:

        There is little reason for borders period, except to divide people. But borders haven’t stopped different countries from sharing transit infrastructure.

        • Nyland8 says:

          Point taken, Bolwerk. The MTA and the PA can’t figure out an equitable pricing scheme so people can use a single MetroCard, but a person can buy an unlimited Eurail Pass that can bring them through 23 different countries.

          And Nathanael – we don’t have to change the State borders to subsume PATH into the MTA. We just need to generate the political will. Since it serves the best interests of both sides of the river, it just starts with believing it can be done.

          • Bolwerk says:

            I don’t think PATH should be subsumed. They should just find a way to allow transfers and share riders and share that revenue. It’s a no-brainer for the MTA. It could be a loss for PATH, since I’m not sure PATH has much potential to expand ridership from where it stands today. But then, at the very least all regional transit should be integrated.

            In all fairness, EU railroads mostly range from profitable to barely money losers. (I’m not sure there is a single example of an unprofitable HSR in Europe.) New York has to come to terms with its overpriced operations, and we won’t need to worry so much about attributing government subsidies riders from the right state.

            Of course, some of the reason for the approximate profitability is they know how to play nice with each other.

    • Joseph Steindam says:

      I believe the Port Authority was basically forced into buying the Hudson Tubes as part of the negotiations to build the World Trade Center.

      Also, the Hudson River is hardly an artificial line, it’s still a physical impediment to improving transit between New Jersey and New York. But your overall point is one that I agree with, there should be a tri-state regional body operating transit, using a standard fare and ticket system, with operations becoming standardized across 3 different commuter railroads and 2 subway networks (it would be nice to throw in HBLR and NewarkLR as well, but that might be a stretch). In truth, I usually picked the Port Authority to run such an operation, as they are already a bi-state agency. But whoever runs it is not as important as the overall goal.

      • TP says:

        We couldn’t even handle having a tri-state MPO.

      • R. Graham says:

        I respectfully disagree. A large swath of the problems we have getting transit funding today has everything to do with the fact that the MTA was created. By and large when the government creates a government agency with an appointed leader. It’s the government’s way of shifting responsibility and blame conveniently and always to serve the greater “political good.”

        Definition of Political Good: Never good for the people, EVER!

  3. Scott E says:

    And just as quickly, an “electrical problem” has that line suspended again. Perhaps this is what happens when you rush things?

    Rolling PATH into MTA might be a tricky approach, especially because – prior to Sandy – PATH was generally considered to be operating better than NYC Transit (cleaner, more reliable, etc). Also, seeing that the next major expansion of PATH may be an extension from Newark Penn to Newark Airport, that would likely attract lots of animosity from NYC residents, just as the #7-to-Secaucus plan did. I’d see them being acquired by NJ Transit (which already operates trains and buses across state lines) first.

    • R. Graham says:

      PATH in all honestly is a regional area subway line. Essentially the PA should keep it but begin to transition it’s operations into an AirTrain structure. Especially if they roll it to Newark Airpoint. On the other side of this if there was some way to extend PATH from WTC to Atlantic Terminal that would definitely give it shine as an AirTrain like system but with the way the platforms are situated at WTC and considering the direction of tunneling needed to get the line from the tub to the East River, it would be way too costly and a logistical nightmare. Especially for future storms considering how flood prone the Hudson River tube is already.

      • Bolwerk says:

        AirTrain infrastructure (neither Newark or JFK, which are vastly different) isn’t compatible with PATH.

        • R. Graham says:

          Not infrastructure. Just structure. Meaning connect the missing points on both sides of the Hudson. Have PATH extended to Newark Airport and on the other side as an extreme pipe dream extend PATH to Atlantic Terminal to meet the LIRR/AirTrain there and go no further than that.

          • Alon Levy says:

            You’re thinking too much in terms of continuous agency turf lines. If what matters is service, then it doesn’t matter whether there’s a continuous PA-operated line from Jersey to JFK. So if there’s money to convert the WTC loop to a through-station, it should be spent not on connecting to the LIRR (a commuter rail tunnel from Hoboken, Pavonia, or Exchange Place is better for that purpose) but on connecting to the already mostly technologically compatible 6 line, which is just a few blocks north at City Hall.

  4. Bolwerk says:

    PATH is mostly a New Jersey perk. If y’all want to get it away from the Port Authority, the logical agency to run PATH is New Jersey Transit. It might be logical for the MTA to share funding with NJT on the part that runs under Sixth Avenue – even that’s kind of generous, since there is a perfectly good IND line there. In my view, most or all of that shared funding should be in the form of accepting transfers from PATH to NYCTA.

    • R. Graham says:

      I will never be able to see what would convince a commuter rail agency to take on the complications of the very aged PATH system. And I’m not saying NJT crap don’t stink either by the way.

      • Bolwerk says:

        I don’t know. NJT has a pretty diverse set of operations: commuter rail, local and commuter buses, and two light rail networks – and one almost-network. It doesn’t have any “heavy rail” urban rapid transit.

        Well, I can see why they wouldn’t want more, but then I can see why the MTA wouldn’t either.

    • Alon Levy says:

      Let me retro-troll and say that on the contrary, there was a perfectly good Sixth Avenue subway by 1910 and so building the IND around and under it was an unnecessary boondoggle.

      As for who should operate what, the correct way to do all of it is to let various operators bid under contract, with integrated ticketing and scheduling throughout. So you could have for example NYCT keep running the 1-6, Veolia running the 7 and PATH, the MTR running the L, and Arriva running the other lettered lines.

      • Bolwerk says:

        ‘Tis true, but it’s there now. And it turned the former H&M into a rather deficient Sixth Avenue Stubway. (There was also a Sixth Avenue El.)

        I’m not dogmatic about the “correct” way to operate. The thing is, either the MTA, what you say, or something in-between could be fine. I really think the corruption/bumblefuckery of NYS runs a lot deeper than mere bureaucratic intransigence.

        It largely does go back to the local unions, whom arbitrators and politicians simply can never say no to. They deserve a dignified work environment, but they don’t deserve every little thing they want at everyone else’s expense.

  5. boerumhillscott says:

    I am wondering if the PA made a mistake reopening PATH with such reduced capacity.
    At 7:30 this morning, conditions at WTC and Exchange Place were bordering on unsafe due to massive crowding on the platforms.

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