Some forward-thinking as PATH resumes 24/7 pre-Sandy serviceBy
Without much fanfare, the Port Authority has restored PATH train service to its pre-Sandy levels. Via a Tweet early Wednesday evening, the agency announced that weekend service to and from the World Trade Center and Exchange Place will commence this Friday. For Jersey City-bound travelers coming from points south in New York City, this announcement — unaccompanied by a press release — is a welcome one.
PATH’s service restoration comes nearly four months to do the day after we witnessed stunning video footage of water flooding through PATH’s system. Although the PA wasn’t nearly as transparent with its post-Sandy images or plans, we heard that water completely flooded the tunnel between Lower Manhattan and Exchange Place, and a subsequent escalator malfunction at Exchange Place was seemingly the result of such flooding. Four months and countless dollars later, PATH service — an oft-underlooked but key element of the region’s transit system — has been restored.
Yet, even with the good news, I am left wondering what now? The Port Authority hasn’t been too forthcoming with its plans, but now that service levels have been restored to pre-Sandy levels, the PA must placate concerns over future storms and future flooding. Will the agency invest in storm and flood mitigation efforts? Will the new $4 billion PATH hub in Lower Manhattan be protected from future storm surges? According to one report, Sandy cost PATH 18 months on that project, but subsequent denials cast doubt on that story. If those delays were due to hardening efforts, it would probably be a worthwhile one.
We cannot as a region afford to look this gift horse in the mouth. Outside of the Rockaways, South Ferry and New Jersey Transit’s inane treatment of its rolling stock, transit services were restored to pre-Sandy levels very quickly. But that doesn’t mean doing nothing is an adequate response today or for the future. Be it PATH, New Jersey Transit or the MTA, our transit agencies should be preparing for the next storm now and not three days before it’s due to hit.