As the transit world once debates sending the 7 train to New Jersey, the MTA has once again attempted to douse this fire. In a very brief statement in response to the Economic Development Corporation’s report, the agency said simply, “We don’t see this as an economically viable idea.”
This is not the first time MTA officials have added a dose of reality to the project. Last April, then-MTA Chairman and CEO Joe Lhota issued a similar statement. “It’s not going to happen in anybody’s lifetime,” he said. “the expense is beyond anything we’re doing.” Of course, one of my complaints about the EDC report is that it doesn’t mention costs at all, but needless to say, those costs would be steep.
The Mayor, though, remains undeterred. In his own statement, he calls the 7 to Secaucus a “promising potential solution.” Said Bloomberg:
“It’s been a century since there was a new rail tunnel under the Hudson, and demand for travel between New Jersey and Manhattan is growing rapidly and quickly exceeding the capacity of existing transit infrastructure. The lack of new transit investment is creating a serious and urgent threat to New York City’s economic competitiveness. Extending the 7 train to Secaucus is a promising potential solution – it would leverage existing investments and be compatible with other proposed projects – and is deserving of serious consideration. We look forward to continuing to discuss this option, as well as other feasible proposals, with the numerous stakeholders involved.”
So is this all just a game of politics and economics? It seems like it. The 7 to Secaucus is the Mayor’s pet project, and it came about originally with virtually no input from the MTA. The MTA, with its own capital priorities, isn’t about to sink its finite resources into a subway to New Jersey, and if the mayor wants such a tunnel to be his lasting legacy, he will to find a way to promote — and pay for — this project whatever the costs may be. I tend to think Lhota was right a year ago; I doubt we will see this in our lifetimes. But it sure does have everyone thinking.