The provincialism of the PATH train


If the G train, is New York City’s forgotten stepchild of a subway, what does that make the PATH trains? Serving as a vital link between rapidly-growing waterfront communities in New Jersey and both Lower Manhattan and Midtown, PATH saw a record 76.6 million riders in 2011. But since Superstorm Sandy swamped the system, PATH riders have been left in the dark by a two-state agency seemingly responsible to no one.

Earlier this week, the Port Authority finally restored a vital PATH link between Hoboken and Manhattan, at least partially. With service out to the flooded terminal, the city had been suffering tremendously with some residents even contemplating moving. The situation is still not ideal as service is operating only between 33rd St. and Hoboken and only between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. The missing late-night and overnight service is a major concern.

In announcing the restoration of service, Gov. Cuomo and Gov. Christie issued a joint press released that included no statement from either Governor. Even their press secretaries couldn’t be bothered to put words into their mouths for the occasion — which tells you how little they seem to understand the value PATH has to the city. The press release trumped the return of train service for “more than 29,000 commuters” but neglected to mention when 24-hour service would return. The release also noted that direct service from Hoboken to the World Trade Center terminal “remains several weeks.”

Meanwhile, PATH’s reluctance to provide any further information has annoyed customers for nearly two months. Yes, Sandy created dire circumstances, but as the MTA’s willingness to share information has shown, customers appreciate updates. Furthermore, PATH’s own insularity can lead to absurd situations as well.

Take, for instance, a message on Twitter issued by @PATHTweets yesterday. In an effort to assist customers navigate the system, PATH issued this statement on traveling from Hoboken to the World Trade Center:

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. This is the official PATH account telling its followers to go into Manhattan to Christopher St., 1.5 miles away from the World Trade Center, travel back to New Jersey and then go back into Manhattan for this trip. Later, PATH clarified that the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail was still cross-honoring fares, but what of the subway? Why not take PATH to 9th St. and switch to a downtown A, C or E train?

The problem of course is one of artificial agency turf wars. PATH later defended their instructions on the grounds of providing single-fare information, and therein lies the problem. Even though riders can use pay-per-ride MetroCards to swipe into the PATH system, there are no free transfers between the systems, and planners and politicians often act as though the two agencies are utterly foreign.

In an ideal world, the PATH system would be integrated into the New York City subway with easier transfers and fare payment technologies. Other than state boundaries and controlling agencies, there’s no real reason, from a regional transportation perspective, to separate the various entities and their rail systems. But politicians are stubborn, and change is slow-moving. We’re left instead with a PATH system lacking in common sense and transparency when it could be so much more.

Categories : PANYNJ

123 Responses to “The provincialism of the PATH train”

  1. Jonathan R. says:

    Not to mention the duplication of management and other nonrevenue functions. After all, if the PATH train was combined with the MTA subway system, it wouldn’t need to hire its own person to write small-minded tweets.

  2. Robert says:

    It seems that not many people know about that connection between the West 4th Street NYCS station and the 9th Street PATH station. It might simply be due to the fact that the street numbers associated with the two stations, 4th and 9th, appear to be 5 blocks apart. Meanwhile, the actual distance between the nearest entrances to the stations is about a block and a half. The north entrance to West 4th is between 8th Street and Waverly Place. The entrance to the PATH station is an almost nondescript hole in the wall on the north side of 9th Street just east of 6th Avenue.

    None of the subway announcements recognize the existence of this connection, not even the routes of the 8th Avenue line, where this is the only connection to PATH’s line from 33rd Street, and the only way to connect to a train to Hoboken without using that awkward approach PATH suggested or taking the light rail once in New Jersey.

    • Adirondacker12800 says:

      not even the routes of the 8th Avenue line, where this is the only connection to PATH’s line from 33rd Street, and the only way to connect to a train to Hoboken without using that awkward approach PATH suggested or taking the light rail once in New Jersey.

      Take the E train to the World Trade Center. Might even be faster unless you are going to Hoboken or Newport.

    • TP says:

      I’ve often wondered about the history of this station. The building that sits on top of the entrance doesn’t look that old. Did it once have an entrance that looks more like Christopher Street?

      Also, I love this article:

      “At community meetings, the Port Authority representatives didn’t show adequate concern for the danger they pose to these buildings,” said Ron Kopnicki, who heads West Village against PATH.

      What a name for your NIMBY group! Today they’d have to call it something a bit more Orwellian, like “West Village Neighbors for a Better PATH.” And even in 2004 the PA was operating in secret: “Port Authority officials will no longer confirm the exact location of the proposed entrance.”

      • Nyland8 says:

        Fun stuff – really pretty silly. The last person quoted actually believes that there’s a risk of losing historic buildings. What does he expect? That they’d fall into a hole?

        Tunneling goes on throughout the world under more significant structures than anything in the Stonewall district. And most historic designations only apply to the outside of the structure – very few on the inside.

  3. Larry Littlefield says:

    “Other than state boundaries and controlling agencies, there’s no real reason, from a regional transportation perspective, to separate the various entities and their rail systems.”

    Funding? How much should NYC’s subway and bus fare rise, and its transit service be cut (over and above whatever is required by its current financial challenges) to provide mass transit services to the richer state of New Jersey?

    Yes New Jersey residents who work in New York State pay New York State income taxes. But that money is spent in Upstate NY, not in NYC.

    • Bolwerk says:

      Why would it need to rise? Not saying it would fall, but if the two simply equalized and recognized each other’s passes/fares/transfers, the whole idea of sharing probably adds a lot of value to both agencies.

      I’m against the idea of combining PATH and the MTA, but the above seems reasonable.

    • Christopher A. says:

      Other than State Boundaries and Controlling Agencies… That says a mouthful. Currently the NYCT is not under the domain of the Federal Railroad act, as it is an intrastate mass transit system. As such, it doesn’t have to follow all the rules which apply to railroads conducting interstate commerce. Link NYCT with PATH, and the entire subway system is subject to many more Federal regulations, which will add more costs to NYCT. Does this make any sense?

      Mind you, the idea of cross-honoring each other system’s fares and treating it as a unified system for the sake of the traveler makes sense – if only the two systems are legally separate, and have mechanisms for dealing with shared revenue capture when a passenger of one system transfers to the other system.

      Now, my big question which will never be answered – why don’t we expand PATH instead of NYCT (with new cross Hudson tunnels, in addition to the ones continually proposed for Amtrak and NJT) to provide for a NYP to GCT connection, allowing GCT customers to reach NJ for jobs….? Instead, the PA prefers to build a fancy station house at the WTC site which does nothing to increase service to the customer….

      • Nyland8 says:

        “Currently the NYCT is not under the domain of the Federal Railroad act, as it is an intrastate mass transit system. As such, it doesn’t have to follow all the rules which apply to railroads conducting interstate commerce. Link NYCT with PATH, and the entire subway system is subject to many more Federal regulations, which will add more costs to NYCT. Does this make any sense?”

        Actually, I’ve read that the SIR, like PATH, already runs under “modified FRA regulations” – which have no impact on the way the rest of the system operates. As long as their train tracks are not connected, there will be zero change in federal oversight of how NYCT operates.

      • I love bashing the FRA as much as the next guy, but the PATH operates under so many waivers that it’s basically not FRA-regulated. If NY and NJ pols wanted to integrate the two, I’m sure the FRA would oblige.

    • Eric F says:

      None of NYS income tax revenue is spent in NYC? NJ residents work for NYC companies that pay income taxes and property taxes. They patronize local businesses that pay those taxes as well. In addition, the NJ people pay sales taxes. While they do all this, they impose zero burden on the schools, prisons and sanitation, don;t use senior services and the like, and make little to no use of parks. NYC does pretty well as a commuter hub. I’m sure Newark would trade places with Manhattan in terms of commuter arrivals any day.

      • Nyland8 says:

        Well said.

      • Alon Levy says:

        Of course some state income tax revenue is spent Downstate, but much less than Downstate sends up the river. Each year the city’s getting $11 billion less in state spending than it’s sending in tax dollars. I don’t know about Long Island and Westchester, but if their federal tax imbalances are any indication, they send multiple billions of dollars a year as well.

        • Eric F says:

          Ok, so even accepting this premise, then, in the absence of commuters’ income tax money going to NYS which spends it “upstate”, income taxes would have to rise on NYC people in order to make up the shortfall.

        • AG says:

          Alon – you are correct. 9 of the top 10 zip codes for federal income tax collection are in Manhattan.
          As an aside though – New Jersey and Connecticut likewise have a gross imbalance of payments to Washington DC. It’s a regional problem and only will get worse as this region is already built out – so it won’t have the population growth of other regions.

          • Alon Levy says:

            Yep. In the last year for which the Tax Foundation has county-level tax data – I forget if it’s 2004 or 2005 – the metro area posted a federal tax imbalance of $91 billion. Upstate as a whole was a net federal tax recipient: Rochester and Syracuse were slight net donors, Buffalo was a slight net recipient, and Albany, the smaller cities, and the rural areas were big recipients.

            • Bolwerk says:

              Is it just me, or did they remove a line item in census quickstats about this?

            • AG says:

              $91 billion???? that’s reprehensible. I knew it in terms of ratio – but not total dollars. that is even more upsetting. As far as those cities upstate… well that’s true even in Albany politics… We “downstaters” get short end of the dollar. Even when it comes to something like the Regional Economic Development grants:


              I’m not even against those upstate areas getting more (because it can actually help ease our own burden).. but I don’t like is the false rhetoric. The rhetoric is even worse when it happens in Congress in DC.

              • Alon Levy says:

                $91 billion is the higher of the two numbers. The ratio is easy to compute: D*(local federal taxes)/(local federal spending), where D is the ratio of federal spending to taxes nationally (1 if the budget is balanced, higher if it is in deficit, lower if it is in surplus). The total imbalance can be computed as D*(taxes) – spending, or as taxes – spending/D; $91 billion is the former.

                • AG says:

                  Alon – yes I know the equation… am just saying I never bothered to calculate it that way… and probably for good reason as it only makes me more upset 🙁

              • Nathanael says:

                I’ve been of the opinion that the link between downstate and upstate NY was broken when the transportation links were allowed to decay.

                You no longer get fresh eggs, milk, and veggies direct from upstate by express rail on the West Side Freight Line…. when you did, it seemed logical for city money to go upstate. I’m sure upstate farmers wouldn’t mind having the market either. But fresh food has been replaced by refrigerated food….

                • AG says:

                  true… but I think it probably has more to do with the Erie Canal becoming less important. The Erie Canal helped truly make it the Empire State.. but the upstate economies weren’t able to re-tool the way the NYC metro area did.

                  As far as farming…Hudson Valley (and what’s left of the ones in Suffolk County) farmers have become heavily involved in CSA’s… Not to mention the ones that sell at the many greenmarkets in the boroughs:


                  I volunteered at one and the farmers were from Ulster County and NJ… but they came on trucks rather than freight. I do also recall that a part of the negotiation for the Hunts Point Market is specifically for organic NY state farmers to have their own space.

      • AG says:

        Eric – you are incorrect to say that ppl from NJ don’t use sanitation and the park system. When I worked in midtown ppl loved to go the parks. Sanitation? That should go without saying. The also make use of the electrical grid and steam power – etc. etc. Just the fact that they work in that high paying job means they are in effect making use of every facet of NYC. The money used to protect New Yorkers also protects NJ residents whenever they cross the river. Most ppl don’t work in Manhattan because they like crossing the river. The majority of the highest income earners in NJ work in Manhattan (and I believe 11% of the total workforce crosses into NY state). It’s not a simple equation.
        It’s not that unique either… for instance athletes often have to pay state taxes in states they don’t live in if they play games there.
        If you have money earning interest overseas that is not a “tax haven” (like the Cayman Islands)… you pay taxes on it there and here to the IRS (well you are supposed to anyway).

  4. John-2 says:

    While the MTA was given control of the city’s toll bridges and tunnels in 1968 as part of the merger with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, it’s never acted as if it’s annoyed about having to deal with the subway part of its domain — it may have attempted to trick people into thinking it was doing more for the subways than it was maintenance-wise during the 1970s thanks to Bill Roman’s Paintapalooza efforts, but you never felt as if the agency disdained the very idea of running the system.

    That’s not the vibe you get from the Port Authority. They want to run the bridges and tunnels between the two states, along with the shipping areas in the Upper Harbor and the three airports. That’s it. PATH with the ugly, annoying kid they got as part of the nuptuals that gave them access to the WTC site in 1962, and 50 years later, they’re still not happy about it.

    The upgrade to the PA-5s seem to have been done because people in New Jersey were bugging the PA officials on why the MTA had nicer new toys than they did in the R-142 through R-160 cars, but in terms of going the extra mile to increase operations and take preventative measures, the agency sees PATH as a bigger headache than what it’s worth (the tunnel flooding as a result of 9/11 should have given the PA a better heads-up that tunnels flood, in terms of being proactive between 2001 and 2012 about water removal from the system, and the agency certainly could have retained the late-1980s vintage PA-4 cars to boost service, even if they were only used as rush-hour put-ins).

    • al says:

      The PA1 cars were 47 years old. PA2 were 45 or 46 yrs old. PA3 were 40 yrs old. They needed replacement. PA4 could had stayed if the PA opted for rebuild, but with CBTC in the cards, they went with a complete revenue fleet replacement.

      P.S. The PA4 are still around as work cars and cannibalized parts.

      • Someone says:

        It’s possible to install CBTC on the older rolling stock dating from he early 90’s, provided that there is money. And if the PA1 was scrapped when it was 47 years old, look at the NYCS’ R32, which is 49 years old and still up and running.

        Note: PATH still doesn’t have CBTC. The CBTC installation on the PATH will be completed in 2017, and by then the PA4s would have been old enough to be due for a scrapping. Until then, the PANY/NJ could have kept the cars…

        • John-2 says:

          The PA-4 situation was kind of similar to what the Port Authority did when they first took over the system and wanted to have new trains ready for when the WTC opened in the early 70s. That meant the H&M’s final rolling stock buy, the K cars, were pretty much shunted off to the sidelines by the early 1970s. And while the Ks did have a retro look that seemed borrowed from the IRT’s World’s Fair Low-V cars, the cars were air-conditioned, and arrived on the system just a year before the R-26/28 cars made their IRT debuts.

          The PA put those cars out to pasture early, and repeated that with the PA-4s. At a time when CTBC isn’t in operation and ridership on the system has increased, doing a 1-for-1 rolling stock trade out when you have a chance to increase the number of railcars and cut the time between trains seems short-sighted.

          • Someone says:

            The PATH might actually be retiring the PA-4s early because it’s easier to maintain one type of rolling stock instead of 5 different types. It might be also because the PATH wanted to increase the number of railcars in its fleet. But there aren’t any system expansions at the moment, so it still puzzles me why the PATH is swapping its fleet now, instead of 2017.

  5. BrooklynBus says:

    In your concluding sentence you seem to blame PATH completely for the lack of fare integration with the MTA. Wouldn’t such an integration have to be equally approved by the MTA? Don’t they also share in the blame?

    • In my concluding sentence, I blame everyone for this situation. It’s a political and state-boundary problem more so than anything else.

      • Eric F says:

        You’d also have to figure out how to merge (or keep separate) the unions, including pots of dues money, seniority lists and the like.

        • Again though, that’s “just” a political problem. With the right person/people in charge and the will to do it, those are issues that can be overcome.

          • Eric F says:

            Yup, just layering on another political issue.

            PATH is an interesting system. It seems to be run with a bare minimum staff, at least in terms of the staff that riders would see. The MTA has sort of caught up to the PA in that respect, but PATH is still stark for having zero visible employees who are not actually working the trains.

            It’s been a bit ahead of the MTA in terms of some technology implementation, such as video screens, and behind in others, such as countdown clocks.

            As a historical matter, I believe the PA would love ro rid itself of the loss-maker, but I think the PA over time has come to something of an accomodation with its role as an unintentional railroad operator and at this point there’s some organizational pride regaring the system.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I’m too lazy to look further right now, but someone (HJZ?) posted on m.t.r.a. some years ago that PATH has over 1,000 employees for its stubby little railroad.

              That seems a bit insane to me for ~14 miles of revenue track.

            • Scott E says:

              I would disagree with this statement. I ride PATH all the time, and while they don’t have booths, they do have station agents (identified by their red vests/jackets) and /or “security” personnel at all stations. Truthfully though, for stations like 14th Street where the uptown and downtown sides have different street entrances and a solid wall between the tracks, you often can’t tell. I also often see people with a broom and dustpan sweeping up the PATH stations. Never saw that on the subway.

              • Eric F says:

                If they have station agents and security, they must be hidden in an area that is not visible. PATH seems to use monitored cameras for security. I have heard a “voice of God” come down from the ceiling admonishing a guy who had hopped the turnstile, but I never saw a physical person.

                Obviously, they must have scores of track workers, maintenance guys, engineers and the like who are working and are not on trains, who a rider would never see.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                When I needed help at a PATH station recently, all I did was turn around and someone was there to help me.

                Regarding MTA cleaners, they are often visible at terminal stations cleaning. In fact yesterday I saw an open half filled garbage can on the platform at Brighton Beach, one of the stations with all of its trash cans removed. I assume there was a cleaner somewhere cleaning and utilizing that can, although no one was in sight.

        • Bolwerk says:

          Isn’t that why MTA Bus exists in addition to NYCTA bus?

          • BrooklynBus says:

            No. I believe the reason is when the NYCTA was created in 1953, there was a provision that it was not allowed to take over any private companies that went bankrupt. That’s why they had to create MaBSTOA in 1962 when 5th Av Coach and Third Avenue Raiiway went under. MaBSTOA must have had the same provision, so they got around it by just creating a new “company” again. MTA Bus.

            • Bolwerk says:

              I’ve heard pension concerns and civil service exams as stated reasons.

              • BrooklynBus says:

                The only pension concern I am aware of is between NYCTA and MaBSTOA since by law MaBSTOA’s pension is funded from the farebox and NYCTA’s isn’t.

                • Someone says:

                  Wasn’t MTA Bus formed by the merger of 6 or 7 different companies in 2005?

                  • BrooklynBus says:

                    Yes. So what is the question?

                    I believe i MTA Bus twas formed because legally NYCTA and MaBSTOA could not absorb any more companies as I stated, so a new one had to be created. I do not think unions and pensions had anything to do with it because NYCTA has both TWU in Brooklyn and Queens, but ATU in Staten Island.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Well, that’s not what MTA Bus drivers have told me, but then they don’t seem to quite understand the MTA either.

                      One pertinent point is all those private drivers never took a civil service exam, while the NYCTA ones did. (Do MaBSTOA take one?)

                    • BrooklynBus says:

                      There are no civil service exams for MaBSTOA employees. But I know their disciplinary procedures parallel those for civil service employees after the first year, so they might have a similar exam or requirements process also, but it does not come under civil service. The only disciplinary difference that I know of between TA and MaBSTOA, is that for MaBSTOA you are under probation for the first year and can be fired for any reason during that time period without being given any reason or having any type of hearing, whereas in the TA you must always go through the hearing process.

        • Alon Levy says:

          Different public transit companies can have different unions, different funding sources, different operators, and even different owners, while still integrating their fares. They can even have through-service if the infrastructure permits it, with a change of drivers (doing it without a change of drivers is also possible but requires more cooperation); it’s done every day in Tokyo and Paris.

          • BoerumBum says:

            That’s true… early out of college, I had a job where I needed to keep track of contracts for 162 different unions working for a major company. Pretty crazy.

            • Nathanael says:

              I suppose it’s better for the company than if each worker negotiated an individual contract, which is the theoretical goal of “free market” capitalism. (Obviously, free market capitalism does not exist anywhere and is implausible.)

  6. Ron says:

    Although not in the press release, PATH expects some 24 hour service restored by new year’s.

  7. Adirondacker12800 says:

    the PATH system would be integrated into the New York City subway with easier transfers and fare payment technologies.

    Why does it cost the same amount to get from Riverdale to Far Rockaway as it does to get from Times Square to Herald Square?
    If you can get from Times Square to Journal Square on one fare why can’t you get to Elizabeth on one fare? Or to Laurelton? If you can get to Laurelton or Elizabeth on one fare why not to Rahway or New Rochelle? Eventually you are asking why one has to pay an additional fare to get between Princeton and Philadelphia or Stamford and New London. So there should be one swipe of a one zone fare to get from New London Connecticut to Newark Delaware? Someday the tendrils of the MBTA are going to touch the nether end of SLE and MARC and SEPTA are going to have same or cross platform transfers. Why not on swipe of a one zone fare to get from Portland Maine to Richmond Virginia?

    • Bolwerk says:

      He didn’t say anything about making the fares the same. Integrating the transfers and fare media means just that; there could still be a surcharge to move between the systems.

      However, I have an answer for the subway/PATH, besides the obvious history: does it really matter? Just use the extra capacity. Already, Rockaway to Riverdale is a dumb trip to make by subway if you have another option. It’s the type of distance that should be made by commuter rail, and could be made by commuter rail if our commuter rail didn’t suck. In the morning, going from Riverdale to Far Rockaway is a trip to Manhattan on a potentially packed “inbound” (to Manhattan) train and then a trip to Far Rockaway (“outbound”) on an a likely empty A Train – it’s the reverse in the evening. In either case, some leg of the trip is being made on an empty vehicle and it’s best to just encourage use of the excess capacity. If some people want to suffer this kind of trip, let them because they’re only using something nobody else wants.

      Regional/long-distance services are something distinct from the subway/transit services. It’s actually practical and equitable to use distance-based fares. A costly per-passenger-mile travel distance adds up over time with these types of services. They carry fewer people, and therefore each person should pay more. There is a really vast difference between the cost of traveling between Portland (ME) and New Haven and Portland (ME) and Richmond, which can’t just be chalked up to wasted extra capacity like the morning outbound trip to the Rockaways.

      • Adirondacker12800 says:

        He didn’t say anything about making the fares the same. Integrating the transfers and fare media means just that; there could still be a surcharge to move between the systems.

        So instead of swiping my MetroCard and having my PATH fare deducted I’d have my PATH fare deducted from my MetroCard when I swipe through the PATH turnstiles. I see a great difference.

        Just use the extra capacity

        You’ve obviously never been on a rush hour PATH train. There is no extra capacity. The usual bromide is “why not run PATH trains through to the IRT” There is no extra capacity on the IRT.
        They studied 137 different options before settling on ARC. I’m sure one of them was “run more PATH trains” They can’t.

        • Bolwerk says:


          1) I don’t know how this wasn’t clear from my post above, but there is always extra capacity in the opposite of the peak direction. It’s not a bad thing for people to use it, even if they theoretically are getting a discount on the extra distance.

          2) There is plenty of extra capacity, at least with some terminal and signal modernization. I don’t know what PATH runs, but 23TPM or so on the 6 isn’t exactly remarkable – though for whatever reason, it seems to be about the most NYCTA can bear on two tracks.

          3) I don’t know what ARC has to do with this. ARC would have served much of northern New Jersey directly. PATH serves a sliver of inner suburb.

          So instead of swiping my MetroCard and having my PATH fare deducted I’d have my PATH fare deducted from my MetroCard when I swipe through the PATH turnstiles. I see a great difference.

          I am completely at a loss to what you’re talking about here. I’m for just letting the two credit each other’s fares to each other. The trips will most likely be symmetric, so once the big deal? I don’t see any major extra costs being imposed by such a scenario, and there is at least incrementally more revenue. But, it doesn’t matter too much. Integration is still better than no integration. However you do it, it’s an accounting problem.

          • Adirondacker12800 says:

            How many trains go through the tunnels at peak? There’s one leaving Hoboken every 6 minutes for 33rd Street and one leaving Journal Square every six minutes for 33rd Street. According to my calculations that’s 20 an hour. Very respectable for a subway.
            There’s one leaving Newark for the World Trade Center “every 3 to 5 minutes” With train from Hoboken to the World Trade Center running every 6 minutes that somewhat more than 20 an hour. Hard to tell how many more. Go ahead squeeze in some more trains. Silly Port Authority extending platforms so they can run ten car trains when all they had to do was ask you how to run more trains.

            And great big thuhdering herds of people are going to show up for reverse direction service if the fare gets lowered. Abandon their cars I would guess. The cars that get charged $7.50 in tolls to cross the Hudson….

            • Bolwerk says:

              I don’t know exactly what limitations there are on running more trains, but I don’t see why the low 30 TPH isn’t a reasonable expectation. Maybe it’s not possible because of limitations at 33rd? Maybe the PA is calculating that they can get more bang for their buck with current crew sizes (2, right?) if they invest in longer trains rather than more trains? More trains, afterall, means more crews. Longer trains doesn’t.

              And what’s with these phantasmagorical responses to things I never even said? Lowering fares? Or thundering herds of people? Quite logically, people going from Riverdale to Rockaway aren’t taking much more peak capacity than people going from Riverdale to, say, Fulton Street. The Riverdale/Rockaway traveler is getting more mileage for the same fare – a metaphorical per-km discount – but so what? What is so difficult about that?

              • Adirondacker12800 says:

                So just how does using your Metrocard instead of using your Metrocard make more passengers appear? How many non peak direction passengers are discouraged because they can’t use their Metrocard instead of using their Metrocard?

                How many trains go through the downtown tunnels at peak now? How crowded are they? And how many more trains will they be able to run when they finish installing CBTCATCPTCLSMFTOUSE?


                • Bolwerk says:

                  Probably not many. It’s just low cost, almost free to implement. It treats the immediate metropolitan area like a coherent region. It helps some people.

                  By and large, I don’t see a scenario where any “over-capacity” line gets pushed further over-capacity. The most wildly optimistic “problem” is it makes JC/Hoboken better suited as job centers, since presumably some people don’t want to spend an extra fare coming to work from the city.

                  • Adirondacker12800 says:

                    We are back to where do you terminate the single zone. If it’s one zone to go from Far Rockaway to Newark why is it multiple zones to go from Elizabeth to Brooklyn. If it’s one zone to go from Far Rockaway to Newark why is it multiple zones to go from Cedarhurst to Yonkers? If you can go from Far Rockaway to Newark for one zone how come you can’t go from Jamaica to Hicksville on one zone? Why isn’t Rahway to Stamford one zone? If Rahway to Stamford is one zone why isn’t New Haven to Trenton? If New Haven to Trenton is one zone why isn’t New London CT to Newark DE? Or Boston MA to Richmond VA?
                    Still haven’t answered why swiping a MetroCard to pay a PATH fare is different from paying a PATH fare by swiping a Metrocard.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I don’t really care enough to even pick an arbitrary boundary, though someone would have to. If PATH and NYCTA start sharing, I don’t see a downside to making them one “zone.” I only pointed out there is a logical reason to think of a unified Subway/PATH as a contiguous single zone, given its rush hour orientation toward bringing people a short distance in boroughs/inner ‘burbs to Manhattan. There isn’t a symmetrical flow in another direction to interfere with. Again, what is so difficult about that?

                      Still haven’t answered why swiping a MetroCard to pay a PATH fare is different from paying a PATH fare by swiping a Metrocard.

                      Did I even say it was? What is with these muddled non-sequiturs?

        • Alon Levy says:

          If you transfer from PATH to the IRT, then there is capacity, because the IRT’s am peak is southbound, which means northbound am riders are riding reverse-peak.

      • Justin Samuels says:

        People who have to do those kinds of trips often just drive. That’s the quickest way to get from Riverdale to Far Rockaway. We will never see commuter rail links between the two, and there simply will not be significant expansion of the commuter rail system.

        • Bolwerk says:

          That was the point. However, it’s kind of frustrating, given we already have the tracks in place to make that kind of commuter rail work. Encouraging unnecessary driving is about the dumbest (and most expensive) option of all.

          • Justin Samuels says:

            Its not even an encouraging of unnecessary driving. The federal government is extremely unlikely to fund a major transit expansion in NY. We can’t even get phase 2 of the Second Avenue subway funded.

            And we don’t have the tracks in place to do commuter rail service from Riverdale to Rockaway. The MetroNorth has no direct connection to the LIRR, and the two lines use different third rails anyway. For obvious reasons, you can’t convert the subway lines to commuter rail lines, either.

            • Bolwerk says:

              What’s major? At least taking the Hudson Line to Penn and then doing what the LIRR already does to get to near Far Rockaway should be feasible. The idea would need polish, but it’s hardly far-fetched.

              Not saying it should be a priority, but it’s just the type of simple stuff the region’s planning culture is too dumb to cope with. And it’s the type of low-frequency service where switching wouldn’t interfere meaningfully with other services.

            • AG says:

              Justin – once East Side Access finishes… LIRR and Metro North will have direct connections at both Grand Central and Penn Station. The plan is to put Met North trains in the space freed up at Penn when the LIRR takes space at Grand Central. Specifically for your example – the Hudson line will stop in Harlem – the westside in the 50’s and then Penn.
              There has also been renewed talk to re-activate the LIRR from Rockaway to Rego Park. The competing proposal is to turn into a Queens version of the High Line. That is very prelimary though.

              • Michael says:

                Most of what you said is good, but I just want to clarify that there will be no direct track connection between the LIRR and Metro-North at Grand Central. The LIRR tracks are going to be in a cavern station deep below the current lower level. Doesn’t make much sense in my opinion, considering how much extra capacity there is at GCT, but it’s what’s happening.

                • AG says:

                  it may not be a direct connection in the strictest sense… but to me – if you don’t have to go outside – that’s perfectly fine. As far as why it’s so far down… well I’m assuming it’s because it’s coming from the east… and i’m sure they are looking to the future of increased ridership on both (Met North and LIRR). Also don’t forget there are the subway tracks there too they had to deal with.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    It’s better to go outside a short distance than to go a long distance underground.

                    Also, it’s not coming from the east. It’s coming from the north. The 63rd Street Tunnel will carry the LIRR on the lower level, below the F.

                    • AG says:

                      “It’s better to go outside a short distance than to go a long distance underground.”

                      That is completely and entirely your preference. Many persons would rather take a long walk underground than have to face the elements cold/heat/rain/snow for even a short time.

                      And yes it takes the 63rd St. Tunnel and comes south… but it uses that tunnel because it’s coming from the east. If it was coming from somewhere else maybe they could have done something different… but that’s not to be.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Yes, it’s my preference because it’s better for moving people. And gets way more bang for the construction buck. I’m tired of most of us getting nothing because we have to give everything to a few people.

                    • AG says:

                      so basically you think they are making it (the LIRR station) so deep under Grand Central – just to make the project more expensive?? Were you privy to the engineering and design studies? I wasn’t… but in my ignorance I assumed that the decision had to do with all the existing infrastructure there…

                      btw – long walks are good for ppl’s health.

  8. lawhawk says:

    I’m one of those people affected by the ongoing problems at Hoboken and lack of connection to WTC. My workaround has been to do the HBLR to Exchange Place and pick up the PATH there. With a monthly NJTransit rail pass, the HBLR is free, and it’s only a few minutes more than if PATH were up and running. The HBLR route and PATH route are similar in time and stops between Hoboken and Exchange Place before PATH heads to the WTC.

    The other options that were available were to take NJTransit to Secaucus, transfer to the NEC to NYP and then take a subway downtown. Higher costs (the Secaucus to NYP) leg is an additional fare over the fare for going to Hoboken.

    Now, with the Hoboken to 33rd line running, I’m not going to switch to PATH and run uptown to then head back downtown on the Manhattan side. It’s more time consuming. Many others are making that same calculation – it doesn’t have to do with the costs or transfers in or out of the different systems.

    FWIW, the shutdown of the PATH in Hoboken allowed work to be completed on the Lackawanna corridor, which had been such an eyesore and the staircases were a lawsuit waiting to happen. Glad they got that done concurrently with the efforts to get the PATH up and running.

  9. Someone says:

    “In an ideal world, the PATH system would be integrated into the New York City subway with easier transfers and fare payment technologies.”

    When the PANY/NJ gets integrated into the MTA, maybe that will happen. Until then, the NYC has two separate subway systems with no free transfers.

  10. Jerrold says:

    Also, it should be mentioned that PATH accepts a MetroCard if it is pay-per-ride and FULL FARE.

    PATH refuses not only unlimited MetroCards, but also Senior Citizen and Handicapped MetroCards.

  11. Andrew Smith says:

    In a world where our public sector functioned efficiently and gave a damn about serving people, PATH would become part of the subway system and the Newark-WTC line would be extended to connect to the 4 line where it ends at City Hall. 33rd Street trains would continue on via the 1 line at Penn Station. Further expansions would then go up to serve more of JC, Hoboken and Union City.

    In the real world, it would be nice if Christie and Cuomo at least sacked everyone at the PA and started again. Ben only hints here at the utter indifference everyone at PATH clearly feels to riders. The MTA, which is hardly the world’s peppiest organization in normal times, at least moved heaven and earth to get service restored after Sandy. The PA just can’t be bothered. Right after Sandy, MTA stations hummed with activity while PATH stations saw a few extra guys, standing utterly idle and drawing double time. They don’t even pretend they give a damn about customers by putting out regular updates.

    But it goes way beyond that. All three of the airports are terrible, not only in terms of flight delays (which are largely beyond PA control because of crowded airspace) but in every other way. PATH’s normal service has unacceptably long headways and slow travel times. There have been no improvements to the bridges or tunnels in my lifetime. And this agency is going to loose money on office construction in New York, even though it paid nothing for the land and needn’t go through most of the approval process that private developers follow — at a time when New York office rates are at an all time high and construction costs are not.

    The entire thing needs to be gutted and reorganized in such a way that its component parts have some incentive to perform. How? I don’t know, but I’m not paid to know. The status quo is like an anchor on the region’s economy and a daily thumb in the eye to millions of people.

    • Bolwerk says:

      I think you mean the 6. And I’m still not 100% clear, but my impression is the 6 and PATH are not actually compatible (at least for regulatory purposes), even ignoring the whole PATH as an FRA railroad thing.

      And…I just don’t know if I agree about tying PATH as a system into the MTA. It’s a different system with different concerns. I think they should be two seamlessly integrated agencies, and PATH for the most part should focus on growing in New Jersey.

      • John-2 says:

        It would only really make sense if the 7 line was extended into New Jersey from Hudson Yards to Secaucus and some sort of future connection with PATH was planned, or if the Port Authority was willing to chip in some $$$ on spurring off some of the 7 trains at Willets Point to LGA, in place of a dedicated Air Train there as with JFK. (Connecting PATH up with the 6 downtown is still a really thread-the-needle option, due to the other IRT, BMT and IND tunnels in the area, and any PATH connection off the 33rd Street line would have to branch off south/west of Ninth St., because it’s blocked by the IND north of there).

        I suppose the MTA and the Port Authority could work out a deal where the A division (IRT) is spun off into its own separate agency/authority, which could then absorb PATH from the Port Authority. That would save the B Division from having to meet FRA regs, if the feds wouldn’t give the whole thing a waiver. If not, they’d still have to get waivers on the A/B connection points at QP, Concourse Yard and the 207th Street yards, while for any true integration of the IRT and PATH, some sort of hybrid train (the RPA-1?) with a flat side like the IRT and a shorter wheel base like PATH would have to be designed to fit through the tunnels and made the turns both systems.

        • Someone says:

          The fact that the IRT Flushing Line (#7) extension extends in the direction of 26 St says otherwise.

        • Bolwerk says:

          We don’t need connect-the-dots track connections. There isn’t one single track connection to make that we need, and scarcely any that even make sense.

          We need platform connections. We need extensions to new service areas. And we need it so riders can be agnostic about what agency they’re using. 7 to Secaucus is a worthy project, and so is PATH to Secaucus (from Hoboken). A cross-platform transfer there is worthy.

          If PATH should meet the 6, then revive the H&M plan to bring PATH to Astor.

          • Nyland8 says:

            Or … better yet, run the PATH spur up to Union Square. It’s already at the proper elevation, not crossing a single subway line along the way … Union Square would offer the most bang for the buck. It’s about one natural station distance away, it already has a vast underground pedestrian nexus, it gives New Jersey commuters access to the East Side – and by having two termini, you can double the number of trains running through those tubes without being restricted by the turnaround time at Herald Square.

            … AND there’s already a bell mouth with 300 feet of tunneling just off the 9th Ave PATH station that can jump start the project.

          • John-2 says:

            From a 3-D underground aspect (i.e. the glut of tunnels at various depths in the City Hall area), it would probably be easier to connect PATH to the 6 via West Fourth Street, from Sheridan Square to Lafyaette Street (a Sixth Ave. station stop using the mezzanine between the Sixth and Eighth Ave. trains would also be an interesting option, and certainly doable, since the mezz exists because PATH bisects the two trunk lines already, just north of the West Fourth station at Christopher Street).

            But it certainly would be a lot easier, say, just to rework the metal gate alignment at 23rd Street, so that a PATH transfer to and from the F/M trains is completely within fare control — a guy with some metal bars, a welding torch and some cement screws and a drill could probably create that free transfer point in about 6-8 hours. The same thing could be done if and when Cortlandt Street on the 1 reopens, since just as before, the station will literally be right over the heads of PATH commuters heading down to the platforms.

            But any action there would take cooperation on the MTA and the Port Authority’s part to integrate their fare collection systems and come up with some workable algorithm for dividing up the funds based on usage. That’s not something either agency seems to want to move quickly on, if at all (and any system integration, even without track connections, would no doubt end up with some people on both sides arguing over MTA riders getting access to PATH trains, and vice-versa).

            • Nyland8 says:

              There seems to be some insistence on the idea that if the PATH system were subsumed into the MTA, that the tracks and trains themselves would have to integrate. They don’t. They will never have to – just as you will never see B Division trains running to A Division Stations.

              The PATH system can forever be it’s own C Division. And it can expand to provide connectivity to other subway stations without ever linking up. They have their own yards, they have their own Hudson crossing tubes that they are optimally designed to fit, and they can be run under their own modified FRA regulations that will NEVER impact the rest of the subway system – because they need never be connected. Just as the SIR has run on modified FRA regulations – and it has never been connected to the rest of the subway system either.

              But the decisions about where they expand, how they are run, and how imperative it is to get them back on line after a storm will all come from the same bureaucracy – without the duplication of hierarchy they have now by being separate entities.

          • Andrew Smith says:

            I’m not saying track connections make sense with today’s construction costs, but in a sane world where there were 90% lower, this would be a big, big deal.

            Platform connections are, of course, a monumental improvement on no connections, but they are light years away from track connections. Every time you switch trains, even at a connected station, you’re adding an average of ten minutes to your travel time (except maybe at the dead of rush hour, when headways are decent). Multiply that by several hundred thousand people, each switching a couple hundred times a year and you would save entire lifetimes of waste nearly every day.

            • Bolwerk says:

              In a sane world, things happen for good reason. The 6 Train to the PATH train just seems like a serpentine connect the dots game to me, with little incremental benefit.

              I think you’re wildly overestimating the benefits of track connections, or at least ignoring that they have problems too. At the very least, schedules need to be padded to give other trains time to switch. NYCTA encounters these problems frequently; each additional C Train is a slot lost for an E train, and there is no room on Queens Boulevard for the G without funking the R. The M intereferes with the J and the F, and/or a delayed J can disturb an F.

              In the end, I don’t think much time is saved; people just huff and puff up stairs less.

              • Someone says:

                Actually, isn’t that the reason why the MTA is installing CBTC or ATO (one of them) on the Queens Blvd line next? Wouldn’t it improve service on the E, F, M,R, and the J/Z, A, and C lines all at the same time?

                Which also explains the reason why newer metro systems tend to have separate rights-of-way for each subway line.

                • Nathanael says:

                  Track connections are extremely useful for emergency rerouting and empty stock transfers.

                  *Regular revenue* track connections are not very useful. A trunk line can generally support a few branches, but New York’s system of multiple trunks spreading to multiple branches at both ends is one hell of a scheduling and dispatching problem.

                  • Bolwerk says:

                    Agreed, two branches with no other interlining or interference seems pretty optimal. Bonuses are higher frequency between the busiest points on the line and wider service area. Each branch having reasonably modern terminals might even make something approaching 40 TPH possible on the shared part of a two-track segment – something that may not be possible, or at least would be significantly more difficult, without branches.

                    Situations like the M sharing with the J, Z, F, E, and R just seems like a little much. NYCTA is obviously good at dealing with that, but all the same it’s not the optimal way to build future transit.

                    • Someone says:

                      The problem with NYCS is that there are a lot of lines where 2 or even 3 lines are crunched onto one pair of tracks, and local services commonly share tracks with express services. This results in a lower service frequency along certain lines, but a higher frequency amongst all the NYCT services overall. However, this also means that each service has to have fewer trains to accomodate certain NYCS lines where there are bottlenecks (e.g. even though both the M and the J/Z have more than 30 stations on each line, M has just 23 trains and the J/Z 20, due to the fact that they share trackage over the Williamsburg Bridge.) A system with two subway lines which share one concurrent segment (e.g. Copenhagen Metro) is pretty

                      On a side note, it looks like the London Underground is good at managing several lines which run on the same trackage, and run automated trains, all at the same time.

              • Alon Levy says:

                A 6-PATH connection would not add any more branching, since both of the lines in question terminate in Lower Manhattan. Every 6 train would continue to Hoboken or Newark and every Downtown PATH train would continue up to the Bronx.

                You’re also underestimating how big of a problem it is to “huff and puff up stairs.” People don’t like to walk around at stations much. Serpentine complexes like Fulton-WTC can easily add 5 minutes, but passengers tend to count time spent waiting or transferring as taking about twice as long as time spent on the train, so this really is the equivalent of 10 minutes. This is about the same as the amount of time saved by riding an IRT express all the way from 96th or 125th to Chambers rather than a local.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  I’m convincible that there is demand to get to the 6 from the PATH if numbers bear that out. IMHO, PATH to the important part of Midtown East isn’t a difficult trip, as is, except for an inter-system transfer penalty. Therefore I tend to favor a PATH expansion that connects new neighborhoods somehow.

                  Overplaying people’s affection for stair climbing not intended, but slower service and reduced reliability, and not just for the people who don’t want to climb stairs, is a reality of over-reliance on interlining. (Obligatory snide aside: of all the things to care about in a city with such an obesity epidemic….)

                  I complain about ridiculously deep stations more than anybody I’ve seen here, and agree serpentine complexes are stupid, but there is also the practical side to having concrete lines that don’t interfere with each other. Not saying you can’t have interlining, but a balance must be struck.

                  Doesn’t Paris take the opposite extreme from New York with virtually no interlining? At least on Metro.

                  • Alon Levy says:

                    Paris has minimal Metro branching, you’re right, though it has tons of branching on the RER. But what I’m proposing isn’t the kind of reliability- and frequency-reducing track-sharing that’s done on the IND/BMT, but simply combining two lines that now stub-end very close to each other and point in different directions away from Lower Manhattan. This is something Paris did and still does, with RER through-service.

                    Speaking of inter-system penalties, at no cost the MTA and Port Authority could knock down the walls between PATH and the F/M at 14th and 23rd, reducing the transfer penalty to just a waiting penalty and improving service to destinations in Queens and in Midtown north of 34th.

                    The best practices I know of for transfer stations are in Berlin, Vienna, and Hong Kong, where they don’t have subway interlining but do have cross-platform transfers between subways. In Berlin and Vienna the trains are timed to wait for each other; in Hong Kong they don’t but instead each pair of MTR lines meets in multiple transfer stations so that people can transfer cross-platform from any direction to any direction. Those transfers are close to zero-penalty.

                    The reason to link the 6 with PATH is that, first, it improves connections from Jersey to places in Manhattan north of 34th. Since Midtown’s peak employment density is around 50th, this is very useful. It also strengthens neighborhood-to-neighborhood links with Union Square, the Bronx, and the lines that have easier transfers with the 6 than with PATH, such as the 7.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      I don’t wildly disagree. I certainly don’t think PATH to the 6 is wacky, and would base the decision to do it almost exclusively on demand, but assuming the absence of any it still seems like a connect the dots game. I see PATH as a better growth-driver in Brooklyn, though, which needs the transit more. (Atlantic Ave. toward JFK maybe?)

                      Cross-platform transfers are indeed acceptable, but also a planning headache. I still think sometimes the best option is a single-story stairway between two platforms. It doesn’t torture people, even if it’s not quite as easy as crossing a platform, and, as urban station complexes go, I believe it’s cheapest to build too. It certainly seems to be the least imposing option in hyper-dense Manhattan.

                      Also, a good case could be made that PATH users would at least get a better trip to ~50th by just taking that wall down. The M and F may need to switch East River tunnels, but that might make more sense anyway.

                    • Alon Levy says:

                      Oh, I agree that cross-platform transfers are expensive to build, especially at a constrained location like Lower Manhattan. Most transfer stations, even within the same system, are not cross-platform but rather at an angle, because of the difficulty of building under narrow streets. (However, there’s no excuse for West 4th, which is already multi-story and under a wide street.) In Paris, building the cross-platform transfer at Chatelet-Les Halles cost a fortune. However, it’s still desirable, and how much extra money it is rational to spend on it depends on parameters like the importance of the station, the importance of the transfer, and the difficulty of the alternative cheaper transfer.

                      Re PATH to Brooklyn, it would require a new tunnel under the East River. If the PATH tubes were mainline size then connecting PATH to the LIRR at Atlantic would be a no-brainer. But they’re not, and frankly bringing the LIRR to Lower Manhattan is more important than bringing PATH to Downtown Brooklyn, which means such a tunnel would not be used by PATH. The 6 is in a way the only thing the Downtown PATH can connect to based on loading gauges. If the M/V merger were broken and the J/M/Z were converted to IRT size then a Nassau Street connection would also be an option, but Williamsburg isn’t as compelling a destination as Downtown Brooklyn or Union Square/Midtown East.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      LIRR actually occurred to me. The ironic thing about the FRA waiver PATH has is it might mean being able to share with LIRR. PATH would somehow need its own stations, or complicated gauntlet tracks.

                      No major objection to your point about the basis for making decisions about transfers, but then what future line’s passenger connection calls for a cross-platform transfer? I have one idea: maybe if a future T tunnel somehow through routed to the IND Fulton Street Line, but that one is already built at Hoyt.

    • Someone says:

      I think you mean the 33rd St line should be extended onto the B/D/F/M/N/Q/R. The PATH does not stop at Penn Station. Neither does the 4 end at City Hall

      Besides, the loading gauges of the three divisions (A, B, and PATH) are different, so you’d need to get new rolling stock and longer platforms for the trains to be able to interoperate.

      • Bolwerk says:

        I think the IND made that literally impossible.

        • Larry Littlefield says:

          And I suspect you are using the word literally correctly.

          • Someone says:

            It’s still going to be impossible to extend the PATH onto any existing line without creating a new subway division. The construction of the express tracks in the 60s basically ensured that the PATH couldn’t be extended north of 32 St.

            • Nyland8 says:

              Run PATH as a C division – and expand it independently. Use the bell mouth at the 9th Street station to start tunneling toward Union Square. That move alone – the distance of a single stop – connects it to 7 other trains.

              Then continue on to 23rd and 2nd to meet the eventual 2nd Ave Line. And finally, run it under the East River to meet the G Line at Greenpoint Ave. Then it will have been extended three stop beyond 9th St. – just as the Herald Square line is – and at peak times, the Hudson Tubes would be running a train every two minutes.

              It would eventually offer Newark Airport to the east side, and the boroughs, with the single swipe of a MetroCard. And it would distribute New Jersey commuters far more efficiently than it currently does – all without ever linking tracks to the other divisions.

      • Andrew Smith says:

        Sorry to confuse you. I meant to write the 6, of course, which does end at City Hall. As for the Penn Station line, I meant what I wrote. I was proposing a full block of new track to connect the PATH to the 1,2,3 lines — mostly because that line is far more useful to far more people and because the 1,2,3 trains are much closer in size to Path trains than the lettered cars.

        As for interoperability, I’m aware there’d be challenges, challenges that would cost far more than could be justified under current cost conditions. My proposal presupposed a world in which we could bring construction costs in at best-in-developed-world prices. In that scenario, all this would be entirely possible. If the infrastructure of the numbered MTA trains is, indeed, simply too small for Path trains, then they could be connected to the lettered lines, which are clearly bigger than Path trains. Platform extenders would not be a big deal.

        • Frank B says:

          If we’re going to go through that whole song and dance to connect PATH to the Subway, why don’t we just make 7 and 8 IRT services and connect the IRT Flushing Line to the IRT Seventh Avenue Broadway Line via a flying junction? There’s only one local operating on the line; the 2 train can terminate in Manhattan, and the 8 train can serve the east side and Grand Central while using the underutilized West Side IRT capacity; less people on the 4 and 5 trains.

          The answer to all of this is, of course, money. If you were to build this much infrastructure in Wyoming, it’d cost $20 million, tops. Here, it would cost $1 billion. It’s not just union wages; it’s building around everything already in place, rather than building on a clean slate, like the Desert X-Press.

          • Someone says:

            There was a plan to extend the IRT Lexington Avenue line onto the PATH a while ago, but there’s been problems with that. Due to the World Trade Center construction and the existing terminal, the connector to the IRT would cost a lot of money, if it is ever built.

            Also note what I said in an above comment- the construction of the IND 6 Ave line express tracks in the 1960s made it impossible to extend the PATH north of 32 St, in any direction.

            • Jason says:

              I understand it being a different time, but with the depths where they are, would it have been possible for the PATH to terminate at 34th st’s express tracks? I imagine that south of34th, the IND express tracks dip down and go below the path, which effectively blocks it from going anywhere. If these x-press tracks werent built, could the path have been extended north of to come into the IND station express slots?

              • Someone says:

                Nope. Apparently, the PATH and the IND stations are on different levels (PATH is ~30 feet below the street and the IND ~40 feet below). The PATH station is right above the IND platforms. Forget about the fact that the platforms are connected at the north end and the fare control is right next to the IND/BMT mezzanine.

    • Nathanael says:

      Andrew Smith:
      “The entire thing needs to be gutted and reorganized in such a way that its component parts have some incentive to perform.”

      Andrew, you could say that about the entire United States. And I will: it needs to be gutted and reorganized.

      What the hell is up with state boundaries? They’re obstructions. Why are we spending $600 BILLION a year on a military which consistently loses wars? Why does Wyoming have the same political power as California in the US Senate? None of this makes sense, it’s just historical artifacts and institutional inertia.

      I don’t think it’s going to be gutted and reorganized in my lifetime. It may collapse, however, which would provide an opportunity for reorganization. I hope it doesn’t, but it seems likely!

  12. Nathanael says:

    Well, being in a black mood, I’ll say that the new flood zone maps make it clear that Hoboken is a good place to evacuate permanently. 😛

    • Nathanael says:

      Boy, that smiley came out way too happy looking. It was supposed to be disgusted-looking.

    • Alon Levy says:

      I’ll say that the new climate change predictions make it clear that Texas and the entire Midwest are good places to evacuate permanently.

      • Nathanael says:

        What predictions are you reading? The band of states around the Great Lakes in the Midwest will still continue to support a lot of people, as far as I can tell. Maybe not as many as currently, but it won’t be uninhabitable.

        Texas, yeah. Also Louisiana. And Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and Kansas, and much of Missouri, and Arizona. And the states east of the Rockies and west of the Mississippi. And, of course, Florida!

        But why do you think Ohio/Indiana/Michigan/Illinois/Wisconsin/Minnesota are going to be doomed? I realize they’ll have somewhat less water than before, but on the whole the Great Lakes basin had a huge amount of water to start with, and it seems like it will still be quite viable.

  13. How about just starting with better map integration? That doesn’t require any agency consolidation or capital construction budget – just some creative thinking:

    The MTA’s New York City Subway map is seen by millions of New Yorkers and tourists, and is, for all intents and purposes, the main transit map for the immediate NYC area. However, it represents PATH in the same manner as LIRR, Metro-North, and NJ Transit: dull, power-blue lines that are barely visible in contrast to the Subway lines. Making PATH more prominent on the Subway map, since-ahem-it is a subway in all of New York, and functions in the same manner as the NYC Subway throughout its coverage area could help increase perception of transit coverage in the immediate NYC-NJ area.

    Best of all, making a unified Subway-PATH map wouldn’t cost much more than some cross-agency agreement to jointly use a single map, and some decisions about how to visually represent PATH. Perhaps using a distinct line color – Pink? Mint Green? Black? A double or triple line like London Underground uses to represent Docklands Light Rail or the Emirates Air Line cable car? (

    Ben, I’m particularly interested to hear your thoughts on this. Any way we could get this to the MTA and PA’s attention?

  14. Ike says:

    NJ-NY commuters like me are absolutely outraged that the Port Authority has refused to offer substitute bus service from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. during their miserably poor response to Sandy. Even the MTA runs shuttle buses when they can’t operate along a given train line for whatever reason. Many people are stranded late every night, particularly from 1 a.m to 5 a.m. when most NJ Transit operations don’t run either.

    Given the MTA’s mostly excellent post-Sandy response, I now believe the MTA should take over PATH. I don’t mind paying separate fares for the PATH and the NYC subway but we need better service. Then the Port Authority can continue with its disgusting mission creep into real estate without being bothered by anything as petty and insignificant as us commuters.

    I’ve taken to venting my frustration repeatedly to @PATHTweet on Twitter, as have many other people, although it probably doesn’t do much good. Presumably only the PA’s PR people ever see it and they barely seem to know what’s going on.

  15. Ron Wayne says:

    in Germany a grid is layed over a map and the fare is determined by the number of cells traversed. who runs what, nor who built it a century ago is completely transparent to the user. all fares are on a POP basis, ala Hudson-Bergen and billions are saved, people move better, and the entire system functions far more efficiently with the elimination of obsolete and unnecessary far barriers and the inconveniences they cauz. its all far more user friendly. its determined by Federal monies, if the transport entity received federal money,IT MUST COMPLY. result: costs down, ridership up, highway cngestion reduced
    consider this, 30 trains an hour run cross-town under 33rd and 34th st. a station at 33/34 & Park could connect this to the LEX. then trenton-new haven get thru router, making expanding PENN unnecessary and opening up numerous transport possibilities. other pairing options will require slightly more technical adjustments but hudson line Metro-North could be paired with LIRR…and the possibilities goes on and on WITHOUT MAJOR IFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS .

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