Home PANYNJ Crain’s: $1 billion PATH airport extension on Christie’s radar

Crain’s: $1 billion PATH airport extension on Christie’s radar

by Benjamin Kabak

PATH may soon extend from Newark Penn to Liberty International Airport.

As New York City area airports go, Newark’s is relatively easy to get to. NJ Transit and Amtrak both provide regular and frequent service to the AirTrain station, and while the AirTrain is a bit sluggish, it works. Now, at the cost of $1 billion, it’s going to get even easier to get there as Governor Chris Christie will approve a PATH extension to the airport.

Crain’s New York broke the story on Wednesday evening. Daniel Geiger notes that Gov. Christie was set to announce his support on Thursday but canceled his public appearance. Still, the money will be on the way. Geiger reports:

Mr. Christie’s backing would almost certainly assure that the extension project, which has been mulled over by transit officials for more than a year, would be included in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s roughly $30 billion capital plan, which is expected to be released to the public in the coming months.

The extension would be of special benefit to lower Manhattan PATH riders, who would be able to take the line
all the way to Newark Airport and transfer to the Air Train to travel to the airport’s terminals. Downtown PATH service currently ends at Newark Penn Station, and the most common approach for riders coming from Manhattan now is to take New Jersey Transit from Penn Station in Manhattan to the Air Train, a route that requires downtown riders to first head to midtown.

Airport advocates hailed the decision. “A one-seat PATH ride from lower Manhattan directly to Newark Airport Airtrain is a major step forward,” said Joseph Sitt, a Manhattan landlord who earlier this year founded the Global Gateway Alliance to encourage airport improvements.

This move comes after a year’s worth of study. The Port Authority first announced its plans to examine a PATH extension last September, and at the time, they estimated a $600 million project. That cost has, clearly, grown by two-thirds and will clock in at a lofty $1 billion. The details too are still unclear as we don’t yet know where the extension would terminate, but the right-of-way tracks the current NJ Transit/Amtrak routing.

I’m still on the fence about this plan. As I said last year, extending PATH to the airport is a big help for Newark-bound riders from Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan, and Jersey City. But it’s a $1 billion investment in at-grade tracks through a preexisting right-of-way to serve an airport that isn’t lacking in transit connections. It’s $1 billion arguably better spent on La Guardia connectivity, a high-speed connection from Lower Manhattan to JFK or — dare I say it? — those projected cost overruns for the long lost ARC Tunnel. And why has the price tag jumped by 66 percent in 12 months?

We’ll hear more about this plan in the “coming months” as the Port Authority gears up to unveil a $30 billion capital plan. It’s an embrace of transit from a governor who has been openly antagonist toward it, but is it a wise investment? I’m not convinced yet.

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Christopher September 12, 2013 - 12:31 am

One thing it could fix (although their has to be a simpler way) is the poor hours for NJT and Amtrak. I don’t know how, but seem to always book a 6 am flight for EWR. That leaves me struggling to get their early. Also I have yet to get back to EWR before midnight. I’ve taken all manner of cab rides to attempt to get back to Manhattan (cabs to JSQ or lower MNH. Still all ridiculously expensive.)

Stephen Smith September 12, 2013 - 3:02 am

Newark is a large international airport, it makes sense that you’d need to either arrive or depart during one leg of your journey early in the morning/late at night (I always do). If only there were some sort of preexisting train line that went from EWK’s AirTrain station to Manhattan with lots of spare off-peak and overnight capacity…

Christopher September 12, 2013 - 9:27 am

Exactly. Although PATH would be somewhat more convenient. I still don’t quite see the need to shell out $1B for it.

Clarke September 12, 2013 - 9:44 am

I know it sounds like a crappy suggestion, but the $16 bus that goes to Port Authority/Bryant Park/Grand Central really isn’t that bad for late night/early morning trips to/from the airport. Recently got in on a Sunday night ~8:30/9pm (if I recall correctly) and rather than wait an hour for the train, decided to try the bus. Was at PABT in no time.

And, no, I do not work for the bus. I was just pleasantly surprised. I still wouldn’t dare board in during rush hour though.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:35 am

The problem with the bus is getting caught in the tunnel approaches.

Alex September 12, 2013 - 12:28 pm

Not so much an issue though for late night/early morning trips as an alternative to when the trains aren’t running.

Clarke September 12, 2013 - 2:05 pm

I never knew about it (or did, but never really made the connection when I needed to) and have waited an hour + in the middle of the night for a train. It has actually changed how I will schedule flights in the future…you could get stuck for 20-40 minutes in freak off-peak traffic and still get to the city before the train even arrives at EWR.

Joey September 12, 2013 - 12:45 am

Might it be somewhat more effective to extend the Newark AirTrain to downtown Newark? It solves the problem of connectivity with Amtrak and NJT, which otherwise have little reason to stop at the airport station, plus a connection to Newark Light Rail and many bus lines, plus a direct connection to downtown Newark.

Marc Shepherd September 12, 2013 - 7:25 am

Might it be somewhat more effective to extend the Newark AirTrain to downtown Newark?

The AirTrain is a low-capacity, low-speed technology, and you’d have to extend an ugly right of way through a heavily urbanized area where it wasn’t designed to go. Not happening.

The PATH extension works because it’ll share an existing ROW that is already configured for rail.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:12 am

It can’t share tracks. The ROW demands of monorail are actually marginally less than those of conventional rail, so any ROW that can host conventional rail can host monorail. Not that monorail is such a great technology, but there’s no technological obstacle to extending the AirTrain to Newark Penn.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:37 am

I believe the Newark monorail is about at replacement age anyway though. The JFK monorail is a much more up-to-date system in terms of speed and size. I bet they wouldn’t extend the monorail without wholesale replacing the system.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 11:40 am

JFK doesn’t have a monorail. It has traditional rail with a proprietary traction technology.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 1:27 pm

I’m guessing that you are one of those people who said that the new millenium started on January 1, 2001 and not January 1, 2000.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 1:59 pm

Eh, I normally wouldn’t care, but it sorta matters in this case, since you are on a transit blog. I was trying to imply that the system at JKF is problematic in its own way, as in incompatible with the rest of the region’s transit.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 2:04 pm

As Bolwerk said, it’s actually important. The biggest benefit of monorail (thin, less visually obtrusive structure) and the biggest drawback (turnouts are a nightmare) are both absent from linear induction rail. The term “monorail” in this context is just a catchall for “cute transit that I wouldn’t use daily but that’s nice for an airport or an amusement park.” Over here the exact same system JFK has, only with longer cars, is a major transportation artery and nobody in their right mind calls it a monorail.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 5:04 am

The new millennium DID start on January 1st, 2001.

Unless you live in a world where you start counting with a zero. Where I come from, we say ” 1,2,3 … “

Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 11:10 am

He was implying I have a high AQ. One of the symptoms of a high AQ might be failure to understand subtext.

Joey September 12, 2013 - 3:02 pm

AirTrain’s capacity is going to be a limiting factor regardless, since it is necessary to get to the terminals.

Alex B. September 12, 2013 - 11:25 pm

The RPA’s report on the region’s airports suggest that the Port Authority is unhappy with the reliability of the AirTrain monorail (page 28):


It’s due for a mid-life overhaul soon, and given the reliability issues, they are studying the PATH extension not just to get to EWR, but as a replacement for the monorail.

If that’s the extension under consideration, that might explain the higher cost estimates

Joey September 12, 2013 - 11:56 pm

If the idea is for PATH to replace the monorail it’s a different matter altogether. Still though, I’m skeptical that this can work – intra-airport trips require very high frequency all day, which means short trains and full automation to keep operating costs low. This isn’t the way the rest of PATH operates.

Douglas John Bowen September 12, 2013 - 10:30 am

Please, NO! Keep AirTrain bottled up as best one can, until the time comes when we can replace it with something that has capacity and better speed.

I appreciate the suggestion — on paper it might look good — but the reality is that AirTrain, not a (costly, true) PATH extension, is the weak link now and for the foreseeable future.

Joey September 12, 2013 - 3:02 pm

It’s still a limiting factor if you have to transfer at the airport station.

Steve September 12, 2013 - 2:13 am

Though I don’t expect it, it would be great if they included a way for I-95 buses to drop pax at an EWR PATH station.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:38 am

Yes! Totally agree. I-95/78, 1/9 and US 22 all converge at Newark. It could a be a great bus nexus point.

BruceNY September 12, 2013 - 2:16 am

A BILLION dollars??? Just from Newark Penn to the Airport–along existing right-of-way? Incredible.
But I guess when there are no NIMBY’s along the way to complain (unlike LGA) then there can be a will and a way.

Marc Shepherd September 12, 2013 - 7:31 am

A BILLION dollars??? Just from Newark Penn to the Airport–along existing right-of-way?

You’ll probably find that the whole ROW doesn’t exist. A lot of it exists, but they’ll have to widen bridges and underpasses, which would include demolition and some property acquisitions. We haven’t seen the final plans, but they’re probably building a new station at Newark or very substantially rebuilding the one that’s there.

The article doesn’t say if rolling stock is included, but clearly that would add to the expense. And you have to store that rolling stock, so there could be yard expenses.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 8:41 am

It’s hard to see why any additional rolling stock would be needed. The ridership increase wouldn’t be all that great, and any increase would be dispersed throughout the day. PATH has increased its rolling stock a bit anyway ahead of what planned 10 car operations on the EWR-WTC run (currently that run uses 7-8 car trains).

I’m always biased in favor of expansions. Even ones that don’t seem too useful can be retrofit to become useful later. I do think that PATH needs to put a ton of money into expanding a few stations to handle 10 car trains, and I’m not aware of any schedule for doing so.

Marc Shepherd September 12, 2013 - 9:09 am

It’s hard to see why any additional rolling stock would be needed.

It’s fairly obvious. If you increase the length of the route, you need more trainsets to maintain current peak-hour headways.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Ah ok, I can see that. The new trains aspect is probably pretty small though. I think they spent $500mm to completely replace everything, so a small add on order would only be a small fraction of that.

alen September 12, 2013 - 10:15 am

i bet they would get a lot of ridership if the trip is faster than sitting in traffic from LGA or on the Van Wyck.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 8:41 am

Look for yourself on Google Maps. You can follow the PATH ROW to about south street, and then there are six blocks or so where it looks like they might need to build an elevated structure. The rest of the route is pretty clear.

Something stinks about a billion dollars.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:55 am

I’m looking forward to you blowing the lid off the billion dollar scandal, but we are in an age when a new casino costs $1 billion to build. A several mile transit extension in NJ sounds about right at that figure. I’d be more inclined to think that this was some vaporware project if the estimate was low, as opposed to high.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 11:49 am

Serious question: you act like totally nebulous, perhaps even completely fabricated, overruns in ARC were the worst thing ever, so why are you accepting when there are concrete reasons to think something is overpriced? I mean, you can compare per-mile project costs around the world and see for yourself. You don’t have to believe me.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 1:33 pm

I never said that ARC overruns were the worst thing ever. My contention is that ARC was not a financed project. NJ was on the hook for many billions of dollars that would ultimately bankrupt its toll authority and or the PA. I think ARC is needed. I think our purportedly rail enthusiast federal leader and local federal officials should bring in the necessary billions to build it. I do not think a bankrupt Turnpike Authority is a fair trade for ARC.

As for what this extension would cost, I have no idea. I have no basis for knowing, but once again, this site tracks delays and overruns on East Side Access and the PA’s own work on the WTC PATH station and then acts shocked at a billion dollar cost estimate for a greenfield PATH extension–the first one ever. Frankly, a billion sounds about right these days, whether it could be done cheaper in Texas or Tokyo.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 2:15 pm

OK, and that’s simply not true, no matter how many times you repeat that. ARC was financed. Fairly well-financed, in fact, with the feds throwing in most of the cost. There was a probability of overruns and a possibility of high overruns, but as far as coverage goes it doesn’t get much sweeter than that. There were big, dumb problems with ARC, but overruns wasn’t demonstrably one of them.

I don’t think anyone is shocked about the cost, just irritated because we know it can be done better. For greenfield rail extensions even NJT managed double tracks along the Lackawanna for around $6M/mile – which is perhaps a little high by international standards. OK, this isn’t quite greenfield, and does involve station infrastructure, but in some ways it might be better: no land acquisition and an intact ROW.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 2:46 pm

It was financed no matter how many cooked numbers are presented to pretend that it was.

And what is happening right now? What is the evil Rethuglican Christie doing? He is taking the ARC money and putting it into projects that are desperately needed, albeit not all glamorous. The Skyway is being reconditioned for a billion, the Bayonne Bridge is being raised, the Witpenn Bridge is being replaced. Those projects have to be done to keep Hudson County functional and there was no money for these projects in the absence of ARC. The simple fact is that Christie has been very good, perhaps unprecedentedly good at getting to the construction phase projects that everyone agrees is needed (outside the fantasy world of car hatred forums) but somehow don’t seem to ever move forward. The sheer number of key programs, agreed upon and in stages of design that are actually moving forward is pretty impressive. If only he switched parties someone in the media might right a story on it.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 3:14 pm

So now there is a conspiracy in the GE/Disney/Rupert Murdoch-dominated press to suppress a supposedly good job taxborrow ‘n spend librul Christie is doing? I’ll give you one thing: being impressed by the ability of someone to do routine maintenance or low-NPV expansion projects might a little unusual.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 5:12 pm

Christie has gotten off the ground very important projects that have been long sought as key to keeping things functional in NJ. If you assert that it’s honest to call those projects “routine maintenance”, that’s on you.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 10:26 pm

Maybe you have a better word, but I would call replacing end of its life infrastructure routine, yes. It is something that predictably has to be done, unless you want to contend there is an option to abandon the the Pulaski Skyway. There certainly isn’t public works project in New Jersey right now that could possibly have had the return ARC would have had, <hyperbole size=”7″>and outside the fantasy world of reality hatred forums everyone agrees</hyperbole>.

Given that you keep repeating that lie about the tunnel not being financed, it’s a bit ironic that you try to insinuate I’m being dishonest. But, I guess you actually believe that’s true, so it’s technically more a delusion than a lie.

Nyland8 September 12, 2013 - 3:46 am

Hmmm. With his reelection drawing nigh, no doubt NJ’s Governor knows he is vulnerable on transit issues and aims to alter that perception in voters minds. I wonder if Cuomo could unilaterally veto this project – a la what Christie did to ARC. The last time I checked, Albany had just as much power over PA projects as Trenton does. He could cite fears of cost overruns. Wouldn’t that be fun?

More than 8 miles of AirTrain was built along non-existing ROW for only $1.9 billion. Seems like such a bargain now. I guess construction costs in NYC are actually cheaper than they are in New Jersey.

So … the PANYNJ has a $30 B capital plan, but the MTA has to go begging for a $29 B capital plan? What’s wrong with this picture?

BoerumHillScott September 12, 2013 - 8:29 am

I am guessing that most of the PANYNJ capital plan is for the three main airports, which pretty much pay for themselves.

Marcus September 12, 2013 - 8:38 am

Note that the $30 billion capital plan is for the entirety of the Port Authority, not just the PATH…so that money also goes to the cargo ports, airports, bridges, tunnels, etc. It’s not really comparing apples to apples with the MTA capital plan…

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 4:34 pm

Yeah … it’s apples and watermelons alright. The PA has an annual operating budget of about $2.5 Billion. That’s the apple.

The MTA’s is over $12 Billion. Based on their operating budgets, the MTA more than 4 times the size of the PANYNJ.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 9:02 am

“Hmmm. With his reelection drawing nigh, no doubt NJ’s Governor knows he is vulnerable on transit issues and aims to alter that perception in voters minds.”

They just did a ground breaking for the new PATH station Harrison at a quarter billion dollars. PATH has completely replaced its rolling stock and ordered additional new generation cars. PATH is in year million of a signal replacement project to increase capacity. The light rail to Bayonne was expanded to 8th street, and NJT is pushing for an extension into Bergen County and has a plan adopted. The River Line light rail will be opening a new connection station for NJT in Pennsauken. NJT itself has ordered and is receiving 100 new multilevel cars.

Christie canceled one project. Not the way I would have done it, but it’s really hard to say that transit expansion is on holiday in NJ.

Benjamin Kabak September 12, 2013 - 9:14 am

New Jersey Transit’s sheer ineptitude with respect to Sandy should be on that ledger too.

lawhawk September 13, 2013 - 4:58 pm

Which goes back to my opposition to ARC. Gateway is a better designed project (Amtrak lead agency). ARC had question of who would be responsible for overruns, and the FRA finding issue with NJT’s ability to contain costs. Secaucus Junction is Exhibit A of the NJT inability to contain cost overruns – $80 million became $450 million, and there are still issues with the station (they’re replacing parts of the old stone facade on escalators with stucco). And that was without getting a parking area that maximized usage of the station for events at the Meadowlands or trips to Manhattan without clogging the bridges/tunnels.

And Christie has continued to back Weinstein despite the ineptitude in storm prep. We’re still dealing with shortages of railcars and locomotives. Even minor mechanical problems with equipment can turn into major delays because there’s still not enough equipment to go around.

Christie is definitely vulnerable on transit issues. NJ Transit is a huge reason why.

Lou September 12, 2013 - 10:31 am

All of those projects were either paid by previous administrations, not going through at all, or paid by the feds entirely.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:53 am

You could have said that about ARC if it was continuing. There are many transit initiatives being advanced, and yes many of them, like ARC, were developed previously. You know why? Because in modern regulation land it takes 20 years to build plan, design and build a staircase.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 12:53 pm

That can’t be it. Even the 7 extension hasn’t taken much more than 10.

John B September 12, 2013 - 2:56 pm

Chris Christie governor since January 2010.

1. Harrison Station reconstruction began in 2009.
2. PATH cars entered revenue service in 2009.
3. PATH resignalling deal was awarded in 2009 and signed in January 2010.
4. Hudson Bergen light rail 8th street extension started in 2008.
5. Pushing for extension and approving extension are very different things
6. Groundbreaking on new Riverline station began in 2009.
7. Aren’t 100 new multilevel cars due to the incompetence of the NJT leadership appointed and repeatedly supported by Christie?
8. Even the Glassboro-Camden light rail line was proposed under Corzine.

Its incredibly disingenuous to give Christie the credit for these projects solely because he didn’t cancel them. He is very vulnerable on transit issues its just that the majority of New Jersey residents don’t care enough to vote him out because of it.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 5:11 am

Yes … CC is definitely politically vulnerable on mass-transit issues. I think he is ideologically opposed to it.

I suspect he believes his “real” constituency are people who drive.

BoerumBum September 12, 2013 - 11:20 am

If Christie was just looking for transit wins, he’d push forward with the extension of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail into Bergen County along the Northern Branch (a 9 mile extension along existing ROW that hits several major bedroom communities currently only served by bus)… as far as I can tell there’s been no movement on that for several years, however.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 1:34 pm

There has been planning level movement this year, and a final route was settled upon with buy in from local officials in Bergen County.

BoerumBum September 12, 2013 - 2:14 pm

Thanks Eric, that’s all news to me. Even though I’m an NYCer, this is more interesting to me than chatter about the fallow part of the old Rockaway LIRR ROW, as the Northern Branch passes through a population comparable to that of Phase I of the SAS, and the more our regional transit network grows, the better things are for everyone.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 2:51 pm

They have everything . . . except financing. But perhaps the feds can step up. There was a compromise reached where the trains would not run to Tenafly, the one town that didn’t want it but it would stop at a hospital site at the far northern part of Englewood, which does want it, and it will hit the towns between Englewood and North Bergen. I’m a little skeptical on the value of this thing because it’s so bloody slow, but I assume they have some idea that ridership will make it worthwhile.

John September 13, 2013 - 9:12 pm

So Christie has given the project all the support it needs…except for 99.999% of the support it needs (i.e., the money).

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 2:01 pm

It’s unpopular in Tenafly; I have no idea what people think in Englewood, though.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 2:51 pm

Englewood supports it. It could be that if it’s a hit they can extend it up to Tenafly later.

BoerumBum September 12, 2013 - 3:45 pm

I’ve heard that the Englewood/Tenafly border was the popularity border, as well. The towns to the south (Englewood, Leonia, Palisades Park & Ridgefield) were generally in favor, while the towns to the north (Tenafly, Cresskill) were generally opposed.

Personally, I’d love to see it extended all the way up the existing ROW to Rockland, and have it join up with the (now dead) Tappen Zee rail option… but that’s obviously less than a pipe dream at this point.

Corey Best September 12, 2013 - 7:43 pm

The Hospital is by the border hence why this is a popular plan in Englewood which is seeing alot of redevelopment in recent years in the Downtown area. I’m sure once the NIMBY wears off they will extend it to Closter or Branch off to Paterson following the stalled Bergen-Passaic LRT.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:42 pm

What ROW is there for getting to Paterson?

Brian September 12, 2013 - 10:13 pm

The New York and Susquehanna and Western (NYSW) has a line that runs along the Hackensack River then crosses over the river in to Hackensack and then continues to Paterson. The only connection to the Northern Branch would be by North Bergen, doesn’t make much sense to connect there.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 6:02 am

How about this? A light rail loop that connects some of the highest populations in Northern New Jersey. And 95% of it along existing ROW.


It makes much more sense to connect Patterson/Clifton to Newark and Hackensack, and it makes more sense to connect Hackensack to the HBLR than to send it up to Tenafly.

I’d be astonished to find that there is any ongoing freight traffic along the Newark to Patterson link on this map – at least freight traffic that couldn’t be easily served by truck. But as part of a light rail loop, it might be one of the best mass-transit options in the state. And the Newark Light Rail, and the HBLR, could be tweaked to run the same equipment.

Possibilities abound.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 6:11 am

Hmmm. I guess I don’t know how to make that link work. But basically it’s a map of a large loop that runs from Tonnelle Ave. HBLR terminus, up to Hackensack, over to Patterson, down through Clifton to Newark, connects to the Newark light rail at Broad Street, then through Newark Penn, then east to reconnect to another HBLR terminus at West Side Ave.

It would cover a lot of ground, and far more useful than running up to Cresskill.

Bolwerk September 13, 2013 - 1:09 pm

When posting links, use some HTML:

<a href=”http://google.com”>link</a>

This results in:


Might make posting cumbersome links like that easier, not to mention easier to click on.

Anon256 September 14, 2013 - 12:43 am

Like this: Nyland8’s link.

Brian September 14, 2013 - 10:40 am

The loop idea is a great idea and trust me I work and go to school in the area this loop would run. The only adjustment I would make is instead of running the light rail down the NJTransit Main Line from Paterson, I would run it down the old Erie Railroad main line from Paterson to Passaic, Main Ave in Clifton and in Passaic is a nightmare in the morning between all of the buses NJT buses, dollar buses, dollar vans, and taxis picking up and dropping people off. From Passaic run the light rail at street level on Passaic Ave. (with a stop a Passaic Train station, then the light rail should connect with the in Nutley, there is a Hoffman LaRoche parking lot (in which Hoffman LaRoche is no longer in this location anymore (so parking lot will be empty in the coming years), then connect back to the Newark Branch.

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 11:19 am

Point taken. There’s plenty of ROW out there to be utilized and, ideally – BEFORE – someone gets the notion of turning it into a rail-to-trail greenway.

Light Rail is a great idea for interurban New Jersey, and there’s probably no better place than Hudson/Bergen/Passaic/Union counties to make use of it.

They’ll either use it, or lose it.

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 5:37 am

Thank you Bolwerk and Anon256. I’ll work on that for next time.

BoerumBum September 13, 2013 - 9:52 am

I could see Tenafly & Cresskill going either way… either they see the benefit of not getting stuck in traffic that their neighbors to the south enjoy, or they stick to their guns and keep opposing the train.

The potential problem that I see is that Ridgefield through Englewood had their suburbanization spurred mainly by ferry crossings, not the old Northrn Branch, so the ROW generally runs off to the side of the towns (through historic industrial centers and parallel to rivers) and not through their business centers.

In Tenafly & Cresskill, the business center grew around the train tracks – So people will likely continue to have concerns about traffic disruption, parking, and business relocation (at least one historic station has been repurposed as a restaurant).

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 5:54 am

Why is it so important to get from an airport to Lower Manhattan? The hotels are in Midtown, not Lower Manhattan. Midtown has a much larger office concentration. The tourist destinations are almost all in Midtown. The convention center is on the Far West Side. Lower Manhattan has jobs and this is important for local rail services, but for visitors it’s not particularly important.

Marc Shepherd September 12, 2013 - 7:23 am

Why is it so important to get from an airport to Lower Manhattan?

Lower Manhattan by itself is something like the 3rd or 4th-largest business district in the country. Making it easy to get there is a no-brainer.

Of course, it doesn’t just get you Lower Manhattan. It also gets you Jersey City (a decent-sized business district in its own right), same-platform transfers to anywhere else that PATH goes, and pretty good subway connections at WTC to Brooklyn.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 8:43 am

Right, one of the perversities of the current set up is that Jersey City/Hoboken, just a few miles from the airport don’t have transit access without a time consuming and confusing transfer at Newark Penn. The problem could be solved by extending the monorail to Newark Penn as well. I bet one reason why that is not being adopted is because it requires buy in from Amtrak (which I assume owns Newark Penn as heir to Penn Central). This way it’s just a P.A. show, and they don’t need to get approvals and coordinate with Washington.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:19 am

A business district is where people work every day. It’s not where people go to for long-distance travel. Where travelers arriving at the city from other cities go is where the hotels are, and that’s not Lower Manhattan.

Airport PATH is not about regular work trips. There is no discussion of serving areas where people actually live, like South Street or Elizabeth. It’s about serving airport travelers, and an airport extension needs to go where airport travelers go.

For a similar reason, a public transit line to Kiryas Joel has no business going to a generic CBD, and should instead serve areas of interest to Hasidic Jews, in this case South Williamsburg.

Chris C September 12, 2013 - 10:13 am

People who work in lower Manhattan are also the same people who need to fly to/from EWR as part of their work duties and want quick access to the airport.

And there are plenty of hotels in Lower Manhattan filled during the week with business travellers and at the weekend with leisure travellers.

And there is a growing population in the area too and they may want to get to EWR quickly and easily.

I’ve stayed in Lower Manhattan on about 1/3rd of my vacation trips to NYC as have a number of friends. There is a heck of a lot for tourists to do there and it’s not that far to midtown on the subway with the advantage of cheaper room prices.

And given that Penn is so crowded anything that reduces demand there is surely a good thing and I think this project should be seen as part of plans to improve Penn rather than in isolation.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 1:59 pm

The population in Lower Manhattan is tiny and will always be tiny. It’s growing from a very small base (about 0.15% of the metro area’s population), one that’s barely a blimp in airport traffic once you consider the fact that nobody flies every day.

Same is true for hotels. Yes, there exist hotels in Lower Manhattan. Now go to any hotel booking site and check where the higher-end hotels are; I’m specifically using higher-end simply because there are few enough that it’s possible to count by hand, but also those hotels are likeliest to be used by air travelers and by the social class that pushes for airport connectors. The biggest 4- or 5-star hotel in the city, the Waldorf-Astoria, is on top of the Grand Central yards.

People who work in Lower Manhattan don’t live in Lower Manhattan. A dedicated Lower Manhattan-EWR link serves people who work in Lower Manhattan and go to the airport straight from the office. This is not a common situation – I’m sure it exists, but it’s a minority of an already not too large market. People living in Jersey who fly out of Newark wouldn’t even touch this rail extension because it doesn’t serve them unless they happen to live in Jersey City or Downtown Newark.

Chris C September 12, 2013 - 2:28 pm

If this was a totally new line then you might just have a point but this is an EXTENSION to the existing line not a new line.

Lower Manhattan is not the wasteland you are trying to paint it as.

Sure it’s never going to be as dynamic (or attractive to tourists) as mid-town but who says it needs to be?

And when all the construction is finished and occupied there will be a significant number of people working in the WTC area (let alone the existing ones in Wall Street etc) and a proportion of those will want easy access to EWR and if this proposed extension helps them to get there slightly more easier it might reduce the number of cars on the road or pressure on Penn Station.

Joey September 12, 2013 - 3:09 pm

The question still remains of who this serves. The people who work in Lower Manhattan don’t live in Lower Manhattan, and as such a direct link from Lower Manhattan to the airport isn’t useful to them. People don’t usually travel directly between their offices and the airport – they travel between their homes and the airport on the origin end, and between hotels and the airport on the destination end.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 3:24 pm

It would make fukuvalot more sense if it allowed an in-system transfer to the subway lines downtown.

I still don’t see it as an inherently bad project. Just, why the absurd costs?

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:44 pm

New line or extension doesn’t matter; what matters is the cost and the size of the travel market to EWR, and they’re out of balance.

Phantom September 12, 2013 - 9:27 pm

The connection to lower Manhattan would be highly desirable for a) residents of the Financial District, Tibeca, and Brooklyn, b) residents of the East Side who have an easy connection to the 4 or 5, which you don’t get at 33rd St, c) financial industry business travelers and tourists, many of whom do stay dowmtown, with new hotels being added all the time.

I make this journey from WTC to EWR often, and did it today.. I prefer it to NYP which I always will avoid if possible.

And I really dislike the miserable slow cramped Newark Aitrtrain. Today, i took the Newark 62 city bus just to avoid the horrendous slow and complex Airtrain NJT combo.

Karm September 13, 2013 - 5:46 pm

do you have the numbers to support the idea that it’s a small market? as others pointed out… it’s the 3rd largest business district in the entire country. and more and more ppl are living there. not a week goes buy there isn’t residential conversion of an old office building or new residential construction.

Alon Levy September 14, 2013 - 11:29 am

Residential construction doesn’t attract tourists.

What does show where tourists want to go is hotels. On Expedia’s list of hotels in New York, 16 are in the Financial District out of 491 citywide. Midtown has to be broken up into subareas on that list, of which Times Square has 65, Midtown East 66, and Midtown West 29. And of the largest hotels in the city – see e.g. this list, down to 770 rooms – all are in Midtown.

Karm September 14, 2013 - 11:19 pm

i’m not saying residential construction attract tourists… but residents certainly do use airports. Again – it’s the 3rd largest biz district (which #2 Chicago’s measured at 10 square miles certainly doesn’t have the concentration of Lower Manhattan)… and airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc. know that biz travelers spend more per day than tourists (likewise foreign tourists spend more than domestic). It was those biz travelers who the JFK to Lower Manhattan route was to cater to… because one of the issues brought up is that midtown is more connected to the airports.

As to hotels – there will be 30 there within the next two years. I’m sure if/when this takes place more will be built.


Comparing just the Financial District alone is not accurate either. There are some neighborhoods in Manhattan where persons could/would choose to go to WTC and go direct to Newark – rather than to Penn wait. That’s not to mention ppl in Brooklyn who it is also easier than going to Penn.

Being that it’s a bi-state agency also – Newark airport hotels will be glad because ppl needing to go to Lower Manhattan or even Brooklyn would be more likely to stay there and pay the lower room rates with the direct connection.

Bolwerk September 15, 2013 - 2:50 pm

Even if it works out to 6,750+ rooms mentioned in the article, whatever ends up being attributed to potential PATH ridership can’t be that much. An overwhelming number of people will still travel by Amtrak, LGA, and JFK.

If this is to be justified, there needs to be some evidence that demand will grow mightily. Or the price needs to come down a lot.

Alon Levy September 15, 2013 - 6:48 pm

You keep saying “business district” as if office space attracts travelers rather than commuters. The entertainment for tourists is in Midtown – overpriced Broadway musicals, most of the restaurants, Times Square, what have you.

Now, if this were about people trying to make local trips, then Lower Manhattan would be a good place to connect to. For example, if the project were about serving south Newark and Elizabeth, with the airport a secondary purpose, then the Lower Manhattan connection would be a very good idea. (That’s why I tolerate those JFK-Lower Manhattan ideas – the same infrastructure is automatically LIRR-Lower Manhattan.) But it’s not; there are no plans to stop at South Street or to continue to Elizabeth. It’s purely about airport travelers. Enjoy your $100,000/rider cost.

I don’t see a reference to “there will be 30,” but in either case, Midtown has 158. If you want to bring up other areas, then fine, but bear in mind that the WTC-Fulton transfer is so ghastly that no visitor is going to use it. Foreign travelers hate transfers, especially nasty ones like PATH-subway.

AG September 16, 2013 - 10:18 pm

as several ppl pointed out – biz travelers like to have the direct. Lower Manhattan is no insignificant biz district. It’s a huge one – even though smaller than midtown. It’s bigger than DC and DC is spending money on a direct rail access to Dulles.

Bolwerk September 16, 2013 - 11:47 pm

The situation in DC is not exactly analogous. A fairly considerable new spur is being constructed, and Dulles is a stop on that spur.

Karm September 13, 2013 - 5:47 pm

btw – more and more tourists also go to lower manhattan… and the amount of hotels has more than doubled in recent years – and is continuing to expand even further.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 10:30 am

What should be done with regard to Midtown is tack the fares on Amtrak and[/or at least] New Jersey Transit to the PATH fare so people don’t give a sweet damn what train they take, as long as it’s the most logical to their destination. I assume, if called for, PATH could make use this extension for its Midtown service too?

I agree with you that Midtown is better, but that doesn’t mean Lower Manhattan isn’t useful. And Chris is right; the types of jobs Lower Manhattan has might be the kind where people travel.

Jeff September 12, 2013 - 11:41 am

People don’t only travel for vacations you know. More people travel for business than for pleasure.

Let’s say someone flies into Newark Airport and needs to attend a business meeting in Lower Manhattan within the same day. This will enable that commute to be more convenient.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 1:50 pm

Yes, and people who travel for business use hotels as well. And yet, the hotels aren’t in Lower Manhattan, but in Midtown, with a secondary concentration in the SoHo/Village/TriBeCa areas.

Chris C September 12, 2013 - 2:33 pm

There are plenty of hotels in Lower Manhattan of all classes for people of all budgets.

Sure not as many as elsewhere in the city but there are still thousands of rooms.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:45 pm

“Not as many as elsewhere in the city” is exactly the problem. There’s already a direct connection to the neighborhood with the largest concentration of hotels in the city. Too few people use it.

Avi September 12, 2013 - 3:37 pm

I work in Lower Manhattan, and when we have people from one of our other offices come to NY, they stay in hotels in Lower Manhattan.

Jeff September 13, 2013 - 6:18 am

Not every business traveler need to use a hotel right after they fly in.

Alon Levy September 14, 2013 - 11:13 am

Okay, so after you’ve sliced away the ones who do, and the travelers who aren’t in New York on business, and the ones who are but are going to Midtown, you’re left with what? A few thousand people? Remember, Newark’s O&D traffic is only about 50,000 a day – you need more than 100% mode share just to break even with SAS’s projected cost per rider. Start slicing away parts of the travel market and you’re soon looking at over $100,000 per rider.

Douglas John Bowen September 12, 2013 - 10:34 am

Thank you, Mr. Shepherd! While downtown clearly is THE prize, us Jersey folks might benefit from better access within New Jersey, as well. And the Brooklyn observation is astute: Some borough residents might have faster/better airport access than many of their Hudson County counterparts!

asar September 12, 2013 - 6:34 am

Arc tunnel wasnt working out, but this plan will definetley make its way through

Nyland8 September 12, 2013 - 6:58 am

Apropos of which … has anyone seen this ad? I didn’t read the fine print, so I don’t know what the point is, but this just showed up in trains on the west side IRT.


An ad for canned chili called “Future Diarrhea”. Hardly a selling point.


Spiderpig September 12, 2013 - 7:30 am

I think you mean apropos of nothing. And that’s clearly not an ad for chili, as it mocks chili con carne; probably a stomach settler.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 4:37 am

Yes … it is apropos of nothing whatsoever … on this thread. I had several SAS articles open when I posted that image to flickr, and meant to place it at the bottom of Benjamin’s Aug 26 ” … hemorrhoids to The Gap” blog. Mea culpa.

Pat L September 13, 2013 - 4:00 pm

The url in the ad goes to a new Adult Swim show. I was baffled as well.

Brian September 12, 2013 - 7:37 am

Stupid idea, the airport is already connected like the above article states. Would rather see the billion dollars connecting PATH to Atlantic Ave at Barclays Center. This could relieve pressure on the the Brooklyn subways, allow NJ riders a direct connection to the Barclays, rather than make subway transfers, and it would give Long Island Residents a quick connection to Lower Manhattan.

David Brown September 12, 2013 - 7:54 am

Brian, that is unnecessary. There are a number of Subways that go from the WTC to the Barclays, and Long Island Commuters (except the Port Washington Branch) can get to Lower Manhattan pretty quick via the Barclays Center, as well as Penn Station (a quick (A) (2) or (3) Train Trip), and once East Side Access comes in the (4) & (5) as well. Speaking of the Port Washington Branch, according to the Times-Ledger, it looks like a renovation of the Flushing Station will occur. (Flushing: LIRR eyes eminent domain to renovate Flushing station) http://www.times-ledger.com

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 8:44 am

A Brooklyn-NJ connection probably is a better investment, however.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 9:05 am

As would be a Brooklyn NJ road connection!

But can you imagine coordinating either project? I envision…millions of pages of studies, blocking out the sun.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:25 am

Tunnels like this is where rail’s biggest strength – higher capacity per unit of ROW width – makes it a better mode. The tunnel diameter that gets you a 2-track bore from Pavonia to Flatbush with a station contained inside the tunnel gets you maybe a 4-lane road, without approach ramps. A 6-lane road can be done in a large-diameter bore but it’d be a larger bore and if each car had 5 passengers you still wouldn’t match the rush hour capacity of a modern railroad.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 10:34 am

No thanks. Plenty of subsidized Brooklyn-NJ road connections already exist, and can be made much more useful by pricing use of them higher. And there is no way to build a road without either taking a wrecking ball to much of the neighborhood or making it such a diversion from its core destination(s) that it’s useless.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:49 am

Not plenty, but “some” connections that cost a fortune and go through Manhattan and Staten Island. I’d like to see a new one (that would also cost a fortune) that doesn’t harass congested Manhattan and Staten Island with Brooklyn traffic.

alen September 12, 2013 - 11:16 am

money wise this is a great idea and not only for business travelers. NYC hotels are insanely expensive and some people already stay in NJ. this would make it much easier for tourists to fly into Newark, stay close to the airport and take a cheap train into the city as they need

David Brown September 12, 2013 - 9:22 am

I am sure that one of the goals of the Kosciuszko Bridge Project is to make Airport Travel ((especially LaGuardia) and to a lesser extent JFK), easier to and from Brooklyn.

John-2 September 12, 2013 - 9:41 am

After the $500 million to build/$600 million to fix bill on lower South Ferry, I’d shudder to think what the cost of subducting PATH under the N/R, 4/5, J/Z, 2/3 and possibly the A/C tunnels through lower Manhattan would cost, let alone doing it again for some of those same tunnels between Brooklyn Heights and the Barclay’s Center.

From the point of view of NYC residents trying to get to LaGuardia, I’d hope Christie isn’t just doing pre-election grandstanding and actually follows through on the plan. That’s because if a one-seat ride between WTC and Newark Airport was completed (and there’s nothing really that would prevent PATH from sending selected trains from the airport to 33rd Street), it would step up the pressure on both the MTA and the Port Authority to create some sort of rail connection to LGA, which would then be the only airport without service in the area.

(Having the monorail at Newark isn’t the same as having a train at Newark going straight into Manhattan, and if Liberty began to take away some day-trip business commuters from LGA because of direct rail access, the pressure would be on for the PA and MTA especially to do something at LaGuardia, whether via an N extension from Astoria, splitting the 7 line at Willet’s Point, or an Air Train from one of those two locations.)

Brian September 12, 2013 - 9:46 am


Looking at the subway transfer from a NJ. perspective. If I could have a one seat ride right to Barclays and not have subway connections, the venue would be more attractive.

Tower18 September 12, 2013 - 11:26 am

I’m not sure Barclay’s needs any help in the attractiveness spectrum. They seem to be doing just fine with both the Nets and events. Bringing in the Islanders as well will ensure it is used nearly as much, if not as much, as MSG.

Henry September 13, 2013 - 4:33 pm

It would probably make more sense to attempt to extend the LIRR from Atlantic to either WTC or Fulton, so that transfers to trains going through the crowded Brooklyn tubes wouldn’t be necessary.

Henry September 13, 2013 - 5:43 pm

If it costs $1B to just get to the airport station, how much more does it cost to extend to the terminals in a fashion similar to London’s Picadilly Line?

David Brown September 12, 2013 - 7:38 am

I sure as heck hope I am not in New York to see it completed, but if finished, it would increase the value of the WTC PATH Station (since it will be used more often). I also hope that Hallets Point gets approved, which might be a sign that some of the NIMBY opposition in Astoria to anything Construction-Related can be overcome, so Transportation Access to LaGuardia can be improved.

Peter September 12, 2013 - 7:50 am

It’s not hard to take PATH from lower Manhattan now, an transfer to NJ Transit. Does not seem worth it.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 8:46 am

The transfer is time consuming, can cost you a 1/2 hour easily. In addition, the transfer at Newark Penn is very confusing. It’s not at all obvious what trains are actually headed to the airport. Of course, that confusion can be addressed for far short of $1 billion presumably, but the current conditions are not favorable for PATH-NJT trips to the airport.

Douglas John Bowen September 12, 2013 - 10:36 am

Agree with Eric F, from someone who had done this multiple times (and, full disclosure, is not a “one-seat-ride-uber-alles” disciple).

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 1:48 pm

The problem with the transfer isn’t that it’s a transfer (in the inbound direction it’s cross-platform) but that the New Jersey Transit timetable sucks. That’s what needs to be fixed. Airport travelers are more agreeable to transferring to the LIRR or the subway at Jamaica, since the subway is frequent and the LIRR is also fairly frequent on the Jamaica-Penn segment.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 2:55 pm

The inbound transfer is fairly simple in that pretty much any train you are seeing at Newark Penn is going to New York. The problem is more the airport bound transfer, where you’d sort of assume that every train is hitting the airport, but most trains skip the airport. I’m setting aside the possibility that you wind up on the tracks for the Raritan Line that doesn’t go by the airport at all.

The other confusing aspect for a non-English speaker/casual train user is that “New York Penn Station”, “Newark Penn Station” and “Newark Airport Station”, when spoken over a p.a. system on a noisy moving train, pretty much sound identical.

Avi September 12, 2013 - 3:39 pm

The problem is so few trains stop at the Newark Airport stop that you can be waiting an hour for a train. Especially if you’re traveling on a weekend.

Phantom September 12, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Yes, its not great. From lower NYC it is at least a three train ride PATH, NJT, and that stupid Airtrain piece of garbage.. Its really bad much of the time. Only the most dedicated take it. Not user friendly at all.

Michael K September 12, 2013 - 7:52 am

Spending the money on that isnt a waste, but rather misplaced priorities due to myopic regional planning.

A tunnel to connect the Hoboken Division of NJ Transit to the Atlantic Division of the LIRR would maximize the usefulness of the existing infrastructure.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:26 am

It would, but it wouldn’t cost a billion dollars. There’s a reason I’m not taking that particular potshot at the airport extension.

BoerumHillScott September 12, 2013 - 8:27 am

I think this project makes sense. It will give all people in NYC better access to Newark airport due to the better scheduling that PATH has and better connections to the subway than NJ Transit/Amtrak.

Outside of rush hour, PATH trains have pleny of space capacity, and even during rush hour they are usually not as crowded as the subway.

Other projects mentioned (ARC, Atlantic LIRR to downtwon and/or NJ) would be nice, but they have price tags 10 times this proposal.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 8:57 am

“even during rush hour they are usually not as crowded as the subway”

I think they are at least as crowded and will be more so when the World Trade Center starts becoming occupied.

Craig September 12, 2013 - 10:26 am

The PATH trains at rush hour can be pretty crowded, but they are most packed on weekends. That when the PA combines the Hoboken-33d Street line with the Journal Square-33d Street line into a single route, suspends the Hoboken-WTC trains, and runs significantly reduced frequencies throughout the entire system.

Significant population growth in the PATH-served neighborhoods of Hoboken and Jersey City over the last decade combined with diminished weekend service makes for some very crowded weekend trains.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:47 am

The PATH weekend crush is a product of the truncated schedule. I hope the PA fills the weekend schedule out when the WTC station construction is finished because it’s really a shame to see what they do to their ridership on weekends.

Gabe September 12, 2013 - 8:42 am

It’s not just the financial district that is served by this idea, but also the village. We’re not a huge community, but it’s so much easier for many of us just to walk to PATH vs go uptown to catch NJT. Plus, NJT has an “odd” schedule, where EWR-bound trains don’t just leave every 15-20 mins, they are often bunched and then 30 mins apart. This kind of odd spacing forces me to consult the NJT schedule anytime I want to go to EWR and do some math to ensure I get there in time. I don’t mind doing the calculus, but I’d almost always choose transport where I can just show up and know it’s running every X mins….especially early am.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 8:55 am

Random Thoughts:

$1 billion is very round number. Not sure if that estimate is high or low.

A well done PATH extension seems to undercut the need for NJT trains to stop at the airport, at least somewhat.

PATH wants to run 10 car trains (instead of 7-8 car trains) on EWR-WTC route. In order to do this, Harrison, Grove Street and Exchange Place need to be retrofit. This work will undoubtedly cost a fortune and I’m not aware of any movement to undertake it, other than the glacial work now taking place to begin rebuilding the Harrison station (which to date has consisted of putting up a fence). The need for 10 car trains is acute now and will be more so wen commuter demand increases as the World Trade Center space opens up.

Ideally, they’ll hook in the PATH with a ginormous park and ride station and bus docking facility. It would be great to add such a facility for PATH riders outside the gentrifying urban areas that currently function as de facto park and ride spots.

JJJJ September 12, 2013 - 2:28 pm

NJT not stopping at EWR would be a huge loss for people coning from the south – Metropark, New Brunswick and the coast.

Thats why it would make more sense to extend the monorail to Newark Penn. Someone could go NB-Newark via NJT then to Terminal via monorail, rather than NJT, PATH, Monorail.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 9:16 am

“But it’s a $1 billion investment in at-grade tracks through a preexisting right-of-way to serve an airport that isn’t lacking in transit connections.”

La Guardia is a much smaller airport than Newark. Newark is larger and has fully international operations. Moreover, LaGuardia is a much quicker ride into Manhattan and access is not constrained by the tighter choke points that are the Hudson tunnels. If you had to max out tranist connectivity at one of those two airports, Newark is the one you’d pick.

“those projected cost overruns for the long lost ARC Tunnel.”

This wouldn’t cover the cost of 10% of what ARC overruns would realistically be. How you can cover East Side Access in real time and honestly believe that ARC would come in on some fantasy budget that has never been tested by turning a spoonful of earth is beyond me.

“And why has the price tag jumped by 66 percent in 12 months?”

Probably because they are thinking it through. This is a several mile extension crossing over an urban area and a complex web of highways.

“It’s an embrace of transit from a governor who has been openly antagonist toward it”

That’s just silly. Canceling one project does not make CC antagonistic to transit. System expansions have continued apace under Christie. Moreover, one should look at this for what it really is, an NJ governor’s goal to enhance the value of an NJ asset. NJ people tend to take the (mistaken) view that ARC benefits NY, whereas this project has a more centralized benefit to NJ. It’s also a relatively bite-sized and achievable project, whereas the much-needed ARC was going to be a 10-20 year morass.

Benjamin Kabak September 12, 2013 - 9:22 am

This wouldn’t cover the cost of 10% of what ARC overruns would realistically be.

When ARC was canceled, the projected budget was anywhere from $1-$5 billion higher than anticipated. How you arrived at 10% is well beyond me or basic math. Even accounting for East Side Access cost overruns — which is silly because ESA is far more (unnecessarily) complex than ARC — $1 billion is still far more than 10 percent of any projected cost overruns. If you’re going to accuse me of hyperbolic statements with regards to Christie’s disregard for transit, the same can be said of your approach to the numbers here, no?

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:45 am

“ESA is far more (unnecessarily) complex than ARC”

That’s debatable. ARC involved a Bergen loop track system and swamp storage yard. ARC involved drilling a new tunnel not only the Hudson River but under the Palisades and then constructing an entire new deep cavern station in the middle of Manhattan. There are many opportunities for the open pit burning of time and cash with ARC.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 10:46 am

This is a topic in introductory financial management classes: when there is a blackDemocratic president, costs of projects automatically go up by 125% to pay unions and welfare. 125% of $8B is $10B, and 10% of $10B is $1B.

Hope this clears things up.

BoerumHillScott September 12, 2013 - 11:54 am

Infrastructure construction costs have been outpacing general inflation for two decades across the country. No need to insert a racist political angle.

Alon Levy September 12, 2013 - 9:33 am

La Guardia is a much smaller airport than Newark.

Their O&D traffic levels are quite similar, actually. Newark to some extent and JFK to a huge one function as transfer points from intercontinental to domestic flights rather than just as O&D airports.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:43 am

That’s interesting, I wouldn’t have expected that. But now that you mention it, I do see a ton of people simply transferring flights at Newark. It’s hard to conceive of a NY airport being a hub a la Denver or Dulles, but I guess it is.

Avi September 12, 2013 - 3:43 pm

They’re hubs for international flights. Fly into JFK/EWR from across the Atlantic, and then transfer to a domestic flight to your final destination in the US.

Karm September 13, 2013 - 4:12 pm

domestic not so much… but for international JFK and Newark make this region the #1 gateway.

Dan September 18, 2013 - 12:31 am

Part of the domestic/transfer component is that JFK is now a hub for JetBlue and United inherited the Newark hub from Continental.

Think the argument in favor of extending PATH can be made both ways, although having experienced trying to catch NJT to the Meadowlands from Penn, which means the same train scheduling issues as for Newark, it’s easy to imagine PATH being a more reliable/convenient option.

Berk32 September 12, 2013 - 9:19 am

Just took a look at the existing track conditions.

The PATH tail tracks already go about 1/3 of the way to the airport past the Newark terminal.

I assume they intend on keeping the PATH tracks elevated the entire way. The ROW doesn’t seem to be a significant issue.

$1 billion must be mainly going towards a new station at the airport….

They want something pretty again…….

as a comparison – ~10 years ago the PA contributed $100M towards Jamaica’s full LIRR renovation just to connect it to the new AirTran station – the renovations of the LIRR station cost $387M total.

The whole JFK AirTran construction cost $1.9M – and that included about 10 stations and 8 miles of elevated track (and f*cking with the Van Wyck for years).
It’s 2.6 miles between Newark and the airport (yes i know they’ll need some extra tail tracks)

Government construction costs are out of control. A private owner/developer that didn’t have to deal with unions and bureaucratic BS would get this done at a fraction of this cost.
It’s sad how there is no accountability.

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 10:41 am

“The PATH tail tracks already go about 1/3 of the way to the airport past the Newark terminal.”

Yes, but these tail tracks are used for storage to stage trains for Newark departures and they’d need replacement storage, at least that’d be my unschooled assumption.

I assume they intend on keeping the PATH tracks elevated the entire way. The ROW doesn’t seem to be a significant issue.

Extending electrified tracks through a complex highway interchange will cost a ton if I had to guess.

Bolwerk September 12, 2013 - 11:09 am

You’re right about storage, but land might be cheaper near the airport. Free even, if there is any spare land the PA already owns.

If you look at Google Earth, there may not be too much need for elevated service, though it looks like a look of grade separation could be necessary (or not…I can’t necessarily tell the grade of existing infrastructure from Google Earth).

Berk32 September 12, 2013 - 12:29 pm

through what highway interchange? it would go underneath just like the Amtrak tracks

Eric F September 12, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Right, ok, under it. They have to site the RoW along Route 21, presumably under I-78 and also under or over the freight line (CSX?) over there. Also, the rail viaduct along Route 21 is in need of expansion/replacement, and I don’t know how the PATH extension would fit in to that.

Nyland8 September 13, 2013 - 4:53 am

“The whole JFK AirTran construction cost $1.9M … ”

I think you meant $1.9B

R2 September 12, 2013 - 9:39 am

One billion!? Yeah, this stinks.

Though would it be out of the question or make sense to put in a station in between Newark Penn and Newark Airport Station (south part of Newark) to redevelop the surrounding area? Can’t say I’m entirely familiar.

Chris September 12, 2013 - 10:07 am

When I first heard the $1 billion figure, I assumed it must AT LEAST include a direct connection to the terminals. This price tag is beyond absurd.

And once you get to the PATH/Amtrak station, then what? Use the Airtrain, which is already overloaded between the station and terminals at peak hours and lumbers along at about 10 MPH?

llqbtt September 12, 2013 - 12:10 pm

A billion bucks for a couple of above ground/surface miles seems like a whole heck uv a lot.

JJJJ September 12, 2013 - 1:42 pm

Would it not make more sense to extend the monorail to Newark Penn?

Joey September 12, 2013 - 3:35 pm

I think so, but others seem to think that riding the monorail from Newark Penn to the terminals is much worse than riding the monorail from the airport station to the terminals.

And that’s still ignoring access from other modes. Stopping at the airport station is questionably useful for regional trains and a huge drag on intercity trains, many of which will never stop there. The station could be made somewhat more useful by building a new entrance on the west side, but the number of trains that stop there is still never going to compare to Newark Penn, which also has light rail and bus connections which will never exist at the airport station.

Mike K September 12, 2013 - 4:09 pm

I think that the Downtown Newark CBD can use direct rail access to the terminals on a one-seat ride !

Mike K September 12, 2013 - 4:11 pm

Last I heard, the renovation of EWK would require some relocation of the terminal – why not just run the PATH directly into the new terminal buildings like at JFK Terminal 4?

Josh September 12, 2013 - 6:33 pm

It’s $1 billion arguably better spent on La Guardia connectivity, a high-speed connection from Lower Manhattan to JFK or — dare I say it? — those projected cost overruns for the long lost ARC Tunnel.

Sure, but agreeing to spend $1B on a rail connection to LGA improves transit accessibility to the region’s airports without enabling Christie to pander to his base.

solgolberg September 12, 2013 - 8:50 pm

$1B does seem a lot for this BUT I do not know the details. CC is half of the CC/Cuomo PANYNJ duo and I really don’t know what Cuomo has done on his side to improve mass transit.
Sounds like this will improve mass transit between Lower Manhattan (and the redeveloping JC) & EWR. And “we” have been dropping a LOT of money into Lower Manhattan redevelopment for the last 12 years. And part of the money seems to be spent on touristy things, such as everybody’s favorite whipping-boy, the WTC Transportation Hub.
Sidenote: Courtesy of this year’s 9/11 coverage I’ve noted that every piece that I’ve seen repeats that the WTC TH will connect 13 subway lines.
So, WTF, spend a billion and connect WTC PATH to EWR. Tourists, LM & JC residents and lower level Goldman Sachs employees will use it.

But we still haven’t added a NJ-NY rail connection in over a hundred years.
And though we’re building the $100M+ Amtrak gateway tunnel BOX now, I haven’t seen anything about funding the actual Hudson River Gateway tunnels themselves.

Rob Durchola September 12, 2013 - 10:31 pm

What a waste of money!.

1. PATH is already at capacity on the Newark – World Trade Center line in the peak.

2. More importantly, there is direct bus service between Newark Penn Station and the three Newark Airport Terminals on NJ Transit’s No. 62 bus – currently $1.50. Operates 24/7, often as frequently as every 10 minutes; but at a 30 minute frequency through the night. In the overnight period (roughly Midnight – 5 AM) buses are timed to give a good connection to/from the PATH overnight 30 minute headways. NO AIRTRAIN CONNECTION involved. Except during peak hours, this is time competitive with an Airtrain connection to NJ Transit rail service.

3. And, as mentioned previously, the Newark Airport Express (Olympia Trails/Coach USA) to/from midtown Manhattan also operates all night and does not require a transfer to/from Airtrain.

Joey September 13, 2013 - 12:04 am

If a PATH extension meant the elimination of this bus service, that would be rather unfortunate as well, given that many transit services that stop at Newark do not stop at the airport.

A similar situation happened in the San Francisco area when BART was extended to SFO: Before there was a frequent shuttle service directly from the Millbrae CalTrain station to the terminals. Now it’s an additional transfer to BART and then the AirTrain. Sometimes two more transfers, as BART doesn’t always run directly from Millbrae to the airport.

The net result: it’s actually harder for many people to get to the airport.

Phantom September 14, 2013 - 7:26 pm

The 62 bus will not go away. A huge part of its ridership consists of Newark residents who would still need it, not all of them going to the airport, but also to other parts of Newark, to hotels on the way to the airport, or to a mall past the airport.

Joey September 15, 2013 - 1:46 am

I hope you’re right. We’ve seen a lot of useful local service removed in the context of transit megaprojects, but maybe you’re right in this case.

Alon Levy September 15, 2013 - 6:55 pm

I think what you’re saying about local service is truer of California than of the New York area. The pots of money used to fund capital and operating expenses in New York are different – often they involve completely different agencies. In this case, PATH involves Port Authority and the buses involve NJ Transit.

Rob Durchola September 15, 2013 - 10:08 pm

@Alon – While it is technically true that the Port Authority and NJ Transit have separate budgets, the governor of NJ has a major influence in controlling the spending of both agencies.

Hypothetically, if PATH were extended to the Airport and the NJ state budget was tight, the governor could order NJ Transit to save money by killing the No. 62 between Newark Penn and Newark Airport, especially since there is a second route that passes through the Newark CBD to the Airport (and serves Broad Street Station, as well), the GO 28.

If one understands the details of how the GO 28 and the 62 function, killing the 62 would require a significant expansion of the GO 28, probably negating most of the savings from killing the 62; but most governors and other politicians are not interested in the details of how public transit works at the route and passenger levels.

Phantom September 13, 2013 - 9:25 am



If you don’t have big luggage, the 62 bus, once you learn it, is the better option to Newark Penn than the Airtrain / NJT option. One ride instead of two, and it runs more often. And cheaper too.

If a Newark Airport PATH only were to connect to the same small, slow, inadequate Airtrain, I wouldn’t even bother extending the PATH. You’d have significantly more passengers, and an Airtrain link that simply couldn’t handle it.

Karm September 13, 2013 - 3:56 pm

JFK to Lower Manhattan seems to have lost it’s window. After 9/11 there was a plan by Schumer and Pataki and some money was allocated… but then things were “side-tracked”.

Well to La Guardia – we know it’s the community opposition… though the new MTA head said he still wants to make it happen.

That said – a one seat ride to Newark to the second largest business district in the country is certainly useful.

Anon256 September 14, 2013 - 5:29 am

NJT’s existing service to the Newark Airport station is anything but “regular and frequent”; there are gaps in the schedule of over 30 minutes in the middle of the day on weekdays, and over 45 on weekends. By contrast, the Q70 to LGA runs ever 15 minutes at midday, and subway+Q70 gets me from midtown to the airport faster than NJT+AirTrain (at less than a fifth the price). It’s not clear that a PATH extension is the best way to address any of these issues, but I don’t think it’s correct that improving connections to LGA is a better use of money – LGA is already better-connected than EWR.

Anon256 September 14, 2013 - 5:31 am

How about spending a billion on improving NJT off-peak frequency? The North River tunnels are only really at capacity at peak, right?

Phantom September 14, 2013 - 1:47 pm

That’s now where the need is. And it would do nothing to relieve the PATH / NJT tricky transfer.

Anon256 September 14, 2013 - 3:17 pm

The transfer’s not that bad (in one direction it’s cross-platform), and as Alon notes not that many airport travellers are going downtown anyway. The real problem with EWR whether you’re going to midtown or downtown is NJT’s shamefully infrequent off-peak schedule, and a billion dollars could buy a lot of improvement for that, benefiting midtown-airport travellers, downtown-airport travellers, and regular commuters alike.

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 9:26 am

I seem to recall reading – perhaps less than 2 years ago – that the proposed PATH extension was to have at least one other station added besides the airport. Perhaps somewhere in the South Ironbound?

Anyway, that might explain at least some of the projected cost. Newark Penn to EWR seems like a long way to go without throwing in another station or two. Has anybody seen the plans for this thing?

Joey September 14, 2013 - 2:40 pm

A station at South St would be a good idea, but the same could be said for NJT, and there’s already structures there to support the platforms.

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 10:30 am

OK … I’ll try this again. Here – I hope – is the same north Jersey light rail loop map, only this time with the existing Newark Light Rail, and the HBLR connections, also highlighted.

This would link not only Hudson and Bergen Counties, but Passaic and Union as well. The population densities would justify its creation, the low hum of light rail isn’t likely to distress the NIMBYs, there are very few at-grade crossings in high traffic, and 95% of it would run along already existing ROWs. I suspect its utility would far outweigh its costs.

If Chris Christie wants to be ahead of the mass-transit curve, he could promote this idea, or one like it, in his campaign. OR someone running against him could.

JJJJ September 14, 2013 - 3:14 pm

If anything, it should make sense to get the light rail up to Newark via ironbound

Nyland8 September 14, 2013 - 4:53 pm

It seems like the HBLR is already on its way there.

They just need to put some swing bridges across the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers.


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