Feb
04

Port Authority unveils $1.5 billion PATH-EWR plans

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For $1.5 billion, I’d expect more.

Every time someone — the Port Authority, a media leak, anyone — discusses plans to extend the PATH train from Newark Penn Station to the airport a few miles away, the price goes up. When the plan first surfaced in September of 2012, the agency anticipated spending $600 million on design and construction. This past fall, Crain’s pegged the cost of the extension at $1 billion, and despite a report a few weeks ago that pegged the final price at $2-$4 billion, officially, the Port Authority predicts the PATH airport extension will cost $1.5 billion. It was officially unveiled today in a presentation to the Port Authority board, and if all goes according to plan, it will be open by 2024.

Before we start to ask questions surrounding the purpose and need for this project, let’s figure out what we can get for $1.5 billion. For some reason, Gov. Chris Christie has promised this extension to United Airlines in exchange for service to Atlantic City. It’s unclear why the airlines would be so keen on a PATH extension to the airport; it’s not likely to cause a significant increase in travelers flying out of the Jersey airport. But here we are.

So for $1.5 billion, the Port Authority expects to extend PATH from Newark along a pre-existing right-of-way to the Newark Airport station. This isn’t, you’ll note, a pure one-seat ride to the airport, but more on that soon. As part of the work, the PA will construct new platforms and bolster “associated station passenger infrastructure” to improve connections to the AirTrain. The agency will have to replace the rail storage yard near the airport — a significant driver of costs. They’ll have to make modifications to Newark for bidirectional PATH train flow, and they may look to find private dollars for a garage for non-airport travelers near the new station. An interim stop between Newark and the airport is not currently in the works.

What we don’t know is the cost breakdown of this project. There’s no explanation of how Port Authority got to $1.5 billion, and we have no idea if an agency that hasn’t been able to control costs and has built the world’s most expensive train station, hallway and office building can actually deliver something on budget. We also don’t know why this project is on the table. What are ridership projections? How much will PATH have to spend on rolling stock to maintain its current headways? What are the increased operating costs of sending trains a few more miles away from its busiest stations? Those are questions that won’t be answered today.

Furthermore, there seem to be some popular misconceptions about the plan. In its press materials, the Port Authority itself called this a one-seat ride to the airport, but it’s no more a one-seat ride than the A train to JFK. This is a one-seat ride through Lower Manhattan, Jersey City, Harrison and Newark to the AirTrain. Riders will then transfer to the AirTrain before reaching the terminal. That’s a two-seat ride, and it’s worth noting that both New Jersey Transit and Amtrak service, albeit imperfectly, the airport in a similar way. Is this the best use of at least $1.5 billion in an effort to improve airport access?

On the other hand, this project isn’t completely without merit. It will provide a direct rail link to Lower Manhattan via Jersey City. Both of those markets are growing, and both are without particularly convenient access to the airport. Plus, PATH offers a cheaper ride than New Jersey Transit and, potentially, more frequent service.

That said, I keep coming back to cost. Why does this cost $1.5 billion? What else can we do with that money to improve real transit issues? On my list of priorities, rail access to Newark ranks pretty low, and the Port Authority would be better off spending this $1.5 billion elsewhere. For the right price, this airport extension would be worth it, but anything beyond the mid-nine figure range is just too much. Too many questions, too few answers.



Categories : PANYNJ

135 Responses to “Port Authority unveils $1.5 billion PATH-EWR plans”

  1. Paul says:

    Do they mean one-ticket more than one-seat? Anyway it’s odd of them to call it one-seat on subway style cars with maybe 20 seats for 60 passengers.

    • Alon Levy says:

      Not to worry, with the dropoff in demand between Newark Penn and the airport, there will be plenty of seats.

    • Stephen Smith says:

      You might not get a seat to the airport, but you’ll definitely get one coming back – the ridership at this new station is going to be absolutely miniscule. You’ll probably get a whole car to yourself until Newark Penn.

      • anon_coward says:

        chances are this is for business travelers and will give them a choice of midtown or downtown trains as well as a faster and cheaper trip than taking a taxi

        cheaper to build this than expand Laguardia and JFK

        • Eric F says:

          Depending on design, this will also be a huge transfer point between NJCL/NEC trains and the PATH.

          Could also be a huge us-PATH transfer point.

          Don’t be so sure that the airport will be the main driver for ridership here.

          • SEAN says:

            It could easily serve duel functions – airport transfer & a mass transit connector if done correctly.

          • Joseph Steindam says:

            Is it likely to be any better than their transfer point at Newark Penn Station? Right now most NY-bound NEC/NJCL trains stop on Track 1 at Newark, which shares a platform with Track M, which hosts PATH service to NYC. At EWR, the logical place for the PATH station is in between the NEC and AirTrain Station, which would likely not feature the cross platform transfer.

            Also, about half of NJCL trains run express once they join the NEC and therefore skip EWR. Not that service patterns can’t be changed, I just don’t see how the added transfer point between NJT and PATH is the main benefit.

  2. Alon Levy says:

    EWR has around 50,000 O&D domestic passengers per day, if memory serves. A high but realistic mode share is about 20% (JFK’s is 17% as far as I remember), so 10,000 per day, say imputed as equivalent to 12,000 per weekday based on the subway’s year-to-weekday ridership ratio. If an airport rider is worth as much as an SAS user, then it means the project deserves no more than $300 million.

    Now as it happens it’s perfectly possible to build els this length for $300 million.

    • lawhawk says:

      In other words, this is a meritorious project but for the cost? And the PANY isn’t forthcoming over how and why it costs as much as they’re predicting – and why the cost estimates have increased so much in just the past two years since they first broached the subject.

      And considering that the authority has already broken out the costs for the other station improvements (Grove/Harrison) to make them 10-car platforms, then the costs are more likely associated with the Newark Penn improvements, the yard move, and then building out to EWR with a new intermodal station there.

      Don’t expect the Port Authority to be forthcoming about the costs or rationale. And even less from the Governors’ offices in Trenton or Albany.

      • Eric F says:

        The EIS will be a public document and will provide a ton of detail on property acquisition and design that will put costs in context.

        I don’t get why there seems to be an assumption that the PA WANTS to inflate costs on this.

      • Eric says:

        Almost every project is meritorious but for the cost.

    • AG says:

      I would be interested to know how many airport workers use airtrain as well. The airports are huge employment centers as well…. And all are contine to expand in some form (employees and travelers). As to costs – sigh….Los anyone surprised in this region (or country) anymore? Meanwhile in London – Tube workers are preparing to strike over layoffs

  3. Bolwerk says:

    Sheesh, for that price, you’d think they could at least get to Elizabeth or something.

  4. Andrew Marbach says:

    As a lower manhattan resident, I’m very excited for this extension. This adds new mobility for area residents, workers and visitors in a way that the billions spent on Fulton Center, South Ferry and the WTC Path Station did not. I agree the cost seems ridiculously high, and it should go directly to the central terminal area but at least we get one step closer.

    Once this is complete, I’ll consider flying out of EWR again. Right now, a 3 seat ride (IRT to NJT to AirTrain), a $75 black car, or the PATH to NJT local bus is not competitive with LGA or JFK when flying with just a roll-on, let alone with large luggage like a stroller, skis or golf clubs. I’ll pay more for a LGA or JFK flight so that I can avoid the hassle and expense of getting to EWR. I assume that is why United is supportive, they get to capture more of the overall travel budget of travelers from lower manhattan, jersey city and hoboken.

    I wonder what the station and platform alignment will look like. I could see inbound morning NJT riders switching early at EWR and not Newark Penn in order to have a chance of getting a seat to the WTC.

    • JJJJJ says:

      Theres $15 buses from PANY

      • Andrew Marbach says:

        And $25 cabs to LGA door to door, without having to deal with the misery of the PABT.

        • Ralfff says:

          Also where are you getting “$75 black car” from? Surely the rate for a yellow taxi is lower than that?

          • BruceNY says:

            It cost over $80 for a NJ “yellow cab” from EWR to the Upper East Side after tolls & tip, and this was eight or ten years ago. Thank goodness my employer paid for that. And the cab line seemed chaotic compared w/ LGA & JFK. No thank you–I’ll stick with NYC airports (and I grew up in N.J.)

      • Epson45 says:

        Its now $16 bucks.

      • anon_coward says:

        who in their right mind will take their bags from lower manhattan, to the bus station and then take a bus to the airport compared to calling a cab and going to LGA/JFK?

        • Ralfff says:

          You’re free to call a cab and go to EWR as-is. And it’s closer.

          And good lord, but the whining has become almost comical. So many parts of the city and region so poorly connected yet these precious snowflakes can’t see their way to riding the PATH to Newark Penn Station and getting on the 62 or 67 bus for a few stops. Let’s call this what it is: a refusal of the wannabe-elites to ride a bus.

          Partly the Port Authority is to blame for this: they should have clearly marked signs and maps at the airport, in multiple languages, telling people what bus to get on to get to the PATH, how and why they should buy a MetroCard at the PATH station, etc. There are a lot of transit options at EWR but it’s often not well-advertised.

          • Tower18 says:

            Sorry, but you’re never going to get business travelers onto the NJT 62 bus with all the crackheads. I’ve done the subway->PATH->62 trip before, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

            • Ralfff says:

              There are definitely better and worse runs, but it’s not the only bus that makes that trip either. Again I maintain that you gotta put better directions up at the airport and give it a chance. We’re talking about people who won’t pay for a cab (and it doesn’t help that EWR will rip you off if you try to pay for one by credit card), so let’s give them an option and see what they’ll put up with. And buses, for all their faults, avoid the horrible AirTrain.

              Bottom line: we’re talking about real money to make some suits comfortable when transit options (including rail only!) already exist. I don’t agree that extending PATH to Staten Island is a slam dunk, and I’m sensitive to SI issues. But this is such a non-essential idea on its face that you almost have to throw in something else like that to make it worth looking twice at.

              The one clear-cut benefit I can see for this is that it more clearly justifies the mandate of the Port Authority to run the PATH, and incentivizes it to run well, if it runs to a PA airport.

              • Michael K says:

                Getting rid of the hurdle of multiple fare media, systems, wait times for transfers by extending the PATH to the terminals directly would make EWR into the regions premier airport for all business travel.
                Literally get on the train in the city and get out in the terminal – no dragging a bag, no waiting for a missing connection by 30 seconds, no fumbling for multiple fare cards/passes.

                • SEAN says:

                  Well put.

                  • Eric F says:

                    The Air Train transfer is not a big deal. It’s also not onerous relative to other airport rail systems. Most have a required in-airport shuttle anyway. See: Denver, Atlanta, Orlando, etc. Doing the Air Train thing and then 2 or more transfers after starts to get absurd.

                    Moreover, anyone passingly familiar with PATH delays, which can bubble up from anywhere along a long, winding system, would not want to depend on it for very short headways to manage a terminal transfer. I certainly wouldn’t.

              • AG says:

                If you recall – the PA controls the WTC… It NEEDS high paying tenants. Having a PATH connection for business travelers to get directly from the WTC to Newark most certainly is the main driver in their thought process. PPl can say it doesn’t matter – but NYC is an international business center – and just about every other one in the world has a rail connection to it’s airports.

          • SEAN says:

            And good lord, but the whining has become almost comical. So many parts of the city and region so poorly connected yet these precious snowflakes can’t see their way to riding the PATH to Newark Penn Station and getting on the 62 or 67 bus for a few stops. Let’s call this what it is: a refusal of the wannabe-elites to ride a bus.

            I dissagree. Taking the bus through many parts of Newark is a risky proposition at best. Better to take the NEC in that case or PATH if it gets extended.

            • Ralfff says:

              It would be better to take the PATH if it were extended in the way proposed, yes. I would take it myself. I’m saying it’s not worth the money and the idea that this is some sort of game-changer is fallacious.

              Longer-term, scrapping AirTrain and a direct PATH connection to the terminals actually is a game-changer. That’s not to say I support doing that, right now, instead.

              As Tower18 said, the 62 in particular is not a commuter bus and it can get unpleasant. But a bus down Broad Street is not a risky proposition; it’s the main drag. Flight attendants ride that bus to the hotel every day. Part of changing the status quo here is marketing.

            • AG says:

              Again this is about the Lower Manhattan biz district…. Those businesses and “elites” like it or not pay a huge bulk of the revenues in the tri-state. Time is money in this world. It’s not egalitarian – but it’s the way of the world…. As an aside – most ppl I know of humble means don’t like transfers either

              • Ralfff says:

                This won’t reduce the # of transfers versus taking a bus from Penn Station, though it would probably reduce the overall travel time.

                And again, my point is, actual elites would just take a car or cab anyway. As others have pointed out, very few people will actually ride this to the airport. Flyers generally don’t take public transit to an airport, in my experience. They should but they don’t, and the Port Authority has shown little interest in getting people to ride the cheaper public transit options available to them.

                • AG says:

                  You’re missing my point… Penn Station is not in Lower Manhattan. The WTC is…

                  in your experience??? ridership to airports continues to go up wherever it exists…
                  how can you possibly tell who will take it and who won’t???

    • Nathanael says:

      Let me say, why is NY State even considering funding a project to make it easier for people to fly out of New Jersey rather than New York? Seems contrary to the attitude which caused LaGuardia to push for the construction of, uh, LaGuardia.

      Again, this seems like a project of the Port Authority of New Jersey And Not New York.

      I also do not see how 3 miles of railroad, elevated or not, costs $1.5 billion dollars.

      • anon_coward says:

        and how much will it cost to expand LGA? is it even possible to expand it?

        LGA is already at capacity. cheaper to send some people to EWR rather than expand it. and less of a political headache since the cab industry will fight any transit expansion there

      • Tower18 says:

        The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates all 3 airports. Plenty of people in New York use Newark as their airport. Border disputes are not a good reason to oppose this.

      • lawhawk says:

        Bistate agency is expanding service that enhances the ability to travel from Lower Manhattan to EWR, putting it in a position to take more passengers over the long run and reducing vehicle traffic for the same routing. LGA simply can’t handle more flights (they’re limited by FAA) and their terminal configuration can’t handle more – even with the pending central terminal reconfiguration plan, there simply isn’t room for more runways or air traffic there).

        Not that they shouldn’t work on a way to bring an AirTrain or subway to improve mass transit to LGA, but not doing so there is no reason to avoid improving EWR transit options.

        • SEAN says:

          One of the issues that relates to our crowded airports is the increasing numbers of smaller regional jets overtaking our airspace. It’s become so bad for the PA, that there have been restrictions placed on the number of slots alotted to them. They are driving up opperating costs without substantial benefit. Once a slot is taken by a regional, thats it.

          It would be better if the PA put it’s resources into projects that served the most people such as the PATH extention discussed, terminal upgrades & related infrastructure as aposed to squeezing in a few more flights from ALB or PVD.

          • Tower18 says:

            This is the airlines’ fault. They could use the slots for whatever they want, but for whatever reason, they think the best use of them is regional jets to nearby places. Maybe it is.

            This was helped somewhat a few years ago when US Airways gave up a bunch of slots to Delta…they had been holding on to dozens of slots and sending every-30-minute prop service back and forth to Philly. That was not a good use of slots. But then Delta took them over and added flights to places like Dallas, Chicago, etc. That seems like a win.

            • SEAN says:

              This is the airlines’ fault. They could use the slots for whatever they want, but for whatever reason, they think the best use of them is regional jets to nearby places. Maybe it is.

              From what I remember, there’s a restriction on the number of flights between the NYC airports & upstate NY & New England except Boston do to the number of regionals on those routes. They were clogging up the works.

              http://www.crankyflyer.net

        • AG says:

          The MTA was going to extend the subway to LGA – but the community grumbled and killed the project. That’s the money that paid for the Metro North Station at Yankee Stadium.

      • MLD says:

        I also do not see how 3 miles of railroad, elevated or not, costs $1.5 billion dollars.

        Getting a station designed by the ghost of Eero Saarinen ain’t cheap!

      • JR says:

        There is no port authority of New Jersey or New York. It is the Port Authority of New York AND New Jersey. It is one entity meant to service the entire region, so… why don’t you do a little research before thumbing your nose at our state, like all you fake New Yorkers who got here yesterday love to do.

        • Nathanael says:

          This was a comment in reference to the Port Authority’s repeated decisions to relocate port traffic away from the natural deep port of Brooklyn to the very expensive, dredging-intensive ports in New Jersey, which also require bridges to be raised.

          The PA’s preference for New Jersey infrastructure over New York infrastructure has caused it to spend many billions more than it should have, over the decades.

          • Nathanael says:

            In short, the supposed Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is consistently run for the benefit of New Jersey industry, and not New York industry. I have wondered why.

            • Nathanael says:

              (Maybe the New York government doesn’t really care about retaining industry in NY, and the NJ government does. For example.)

          • BoerumHillScott says:

            Where would you put modern port facilities in Brooklyn?
            You would have to bulldoze everything between the BQE and the water, including all of Red Hook to come close to the land they have in NJ for container operations.

            • Michael K says:

              or the lack of mainline railroad connections?

              • AG says:

                Yeah – that’s part of it too… that’s what the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel was supposed to be for… Still though even that idea was originally before containerization – Brooklyn would still not have the space for container operations that NJ and Staten Island have.

                • Nathanael says:

                  Ding ding ding. We have a winner.

                  The Brooklyn Army Terminal and the areas north of there to the Gowanus Canal are severely underused.

                  But, with no mainline rail, why bother. Port Authority decided not to build rail. Instead, spend a bazillion dollars raising bridges and dredging harbors.

                  I suppose if you believe that ALL ships are going to be the new extra-large ships, you’d have to do the NJ work anyway. They won’t be, though.

                  Meanwhile, the industrial-zoned area will slowly get nibbled away at, and eventually there *really* won’t be enough space for a big container terminal. I guess this is already happening a bit at a time, particularly in Red Hook. If the Port Authority had built the railroad tunnel it was supposed to build *decades ago*, this wouldn’t be an issue.

                  • Nathanael says:

                    On the current trajectory, all industrial facilities in New York will end up abandoned. And that makes no sense whatsoever for the Port Authority of *New York* and New Jersey.

          • AG says:

            That’s a bit of a mis-characterization. Container shipping is what did that (caused most port activity to go to NJ and even Staten Island)…. you need a whole lot more space than when longshoremen did everything basically by hand. Brooklyn and Manhattan’s docks have nowhere near the space needed.

      • ComradeFrana says:

        “3 miles of railroad”

        Not even that. Newark PATH tail tracks extend as far as South street and from there to Newark Airport Station it’s about 1.7 mile (2.7 km).

  5. JJJJJ says:

    No no no no no.

    Extend (improved) monorail to Newark Penn with a stop in South Newark.

    Newark Penn is the transportation center. Thats were everyone stops. It makes no sense to have people on NJT or Amtrak or bus get off at Penn, take PATH to Airport, and then monorail to terminal. The assumption is that the NJT and Amtrak trains would no longer stop at airport….which makes sense since it steals time and skipping the stop means faster commutes. It ONLY makes sense to avoid the airport if the passengers continue to have a one seat monorail ride.

    Extending PATH is the worst of both worlds.

    And by one seat I mean standing because its the worlds worst designed monorail. Its like 90% of the trainset is unusable space.

    The only PATH extensions that make sense are a small extension deeper into Newark (as a revitalization project) or an extension to Brooklyn…..and La Guardia. Airport to airport bitches.

    • Andrew Marbach says:

      100% agree scrapping EWR train station and extending the AirTrain to EWR is a FAR better alternative, but I don’t want a theoretical “best” option to get in the way of a “better than status quo” option that has political support and will get funded.

      Besides, where would the (new and improved) monorail fit in Penn Station Newark?

    • D.J. says:

      I completely agree, although it has been pointed out here before that AirTrain to Newark Penn would require a significant upgrade/replacement since the current airtrain’s capacity is so low and the speeds so slow. Extending PATH to the terminals would seem to be a best of both worlds (one seat ride from terminals to Newark Penn), but at a significant cost.

      • Nathanael says:

        Why not replace Newark AirTrain with PATH? I’m guessing the structure isn’t strong enough to carry PATH, and I know the platforms aren’t long enough. 🙁

      • Ned says:

        Maybe this is obvious to others, but why did the PA source completely different technologies when they developed the JFK and EWR AirTrains? I’m not familiar with the history, but I imagine JFK came later, was more expensive on a unit cost basis, but a higher quality (and less dinky) system was sourced because of what was learned at EWR.

        If the EWR AirTrain was like the JFK system, the capacity and speed to extend to Newark Penn would seem to be there… and Jamaica looks to be ~50% further from JFK than Newark Penn is from EWR, roughly speaking. If only this had been considered in the 90’s during EWR Air Train planning. But a new station on the NEC would have certainly seemed easier, and maybe the Amtrak link seemed more important then (?).

        • al says:

          The JFK AirTrain was built at $250 million/route mile. It might be best to contact Bombardier and replace the Newark Airtrain monorail with the Bombardier automated LIM system. It would be cheaper and faster than both the PATH extension monorail extension options.

    • Ryan says:

      No, no, no, no, no.

      Scrapping EWR Rail Station is an awful idea and should not be seriously considered under any circumstance, unless you want to scrap EWR altogether as a “New York” airport. (And if you want to do that, come out and say so.)

      Getting rid of EWR Rail Station represents a massive devaluation of the airport because its link to the Northeast Corridor is now gone and nothing – not even the 7 or the L or both – is an acceptable substitute for that.

      As we begin to actually enter the modern era, we need to be thinking about how medium- and high-speed surface transportation integrates into our airport networks. Expanding the United-Amtrak codeshare agreement (and/or adding other air partners) to allow for “flights” on the Northeast Corridor to replace short-haul shuttle runs under ~650 miles (NYC-RDU, NYC-SAV, NYC-ATL, NYC-YMQ, NYC-YTO, etc.) is absolutely something we should be striving to do. We want to free up those slots for what they can be best used for: medium- and long-haul runs to centralized hubs over spans of 750+ (if and when maglev becomes a proven technology and mature enough for wide-scale deployment, 1350+) miles, where surface transportation just can’t compete with air travel.

      EWR is practically on top of the Northeast Corridor and is the only option for integrating rail-air travel in NYC that doesn’t involve a massive diversion of the corridor onto an alignment that’s best described as “psychopathic” AND requires the Sunnel an iconic landmark bridge over the Long Island Sound, and centralizing air travel around a NYC hub offering Philadelphia in 45 minutes makes far more sense than the ridiculous Vision Tunnel (or a massive detour over legacy rail) to hit PHL. Further, when EWR is up for terminal renovations again, there’s a number of probable scenarios that end with the terminals being a short walk (or long people-mover a la PVD) away from the rail platforms and in that scenario the monorail has no more reason to exist. Mass transit links like an extension of the 7/L, PATH, or continued NJT service are more than appropriate for moving people between EWR, downtown Newark, and Manhattan and with less than 3 miles separating Newark Penn and EWR Rail, skipping Newark Penn in favor of EWR on limited service codeshare HSR runs (NYP – EWR – PHL -> perhaps once an hour if NYP – NWK – PHL -> runs 4~5 times an hour, twice if it runs 6~8 times an hour) is much less of a disaster than, say, skipping 30th Street in favor of PHL Airport.

      And, of course, regardless of whether or not a direct air-HSR transfer happens here, lower speed regional rail and medium-speed intercity rail should continue providing expansive service to the terminal so that it (along with the 7/L/PATH) continues to be a legitimate “New York City” airport.

      • Ryan says:

        NYC-ATL and NYC-SAV are actually outside of that because I was thinking of DC when looking at southern cities.

        The point is still valid if you figure that the two major air-rail connections are going to be EWR and one of DCA/BWI.

        • SEAN says:

          I didn’t think about it in those terms, but it makes so much sence. The issue with EWR is crowding & passenger flow causing delays of all sorts. There needs to be a total redevelopment of the terminals that includes a replacement of the monorail with PATH trains. Maintaining a connection to the regional rail network is a MUST for airport growth. LGA has a tight footprint that cant easily be expanded & JFK no matter how the terminals are redistributed, there cant be anymore than 153 total gates. That’s why Delta splits their hub opperations between LGA & JFK.

      • adirondacker12800 says:

        the people mover for Philadelphia Airport has a station at Amtrak’s 30th street station in Philadelphia, upstairs on the SEPTA level, it’s called the Airport Line, formerly R1 and it’s really neat the way it continues onto Suburban Station, Market East and Temple.

      • Bill says:

        Ok, EWR Airport People mover needs to move people between EWR terminals. A better people mover (faster, more capacity) would be great. I have always advocated extending the people mover to NWK Penn as the best option, as it would provide the same connections as Path to EWR, plus all the other options you get at the NWK hub that you won’t get without 2 transfers by extending PATH. But whoever made the point that scrapping the NEC airport station made a good point. Too bad it was built in the first place, but now that it’s there, I still say extending the people mover to Penn is the best option. But don’t scrap the Airport station, instead, use the land around it to build hotels, a conference center, and a location for buses to come and go. I can’t imagine a better place for hotels and conference center to advertise their direct access to the airport using that spot. And with the NEC station still there, it becomes even more attractive, meanwhile, the station becomes better utilized.

        OK, so there are a couple of hotels already there, but it doesn’t appear as though they have any direct access to the train or people mover. And there appears to be a good bit of space for more stuff. Wouldn’t it make sense to develop that land?

    • Ralfff says:

      The “AirTrain” is so slow you could probably beat it on a bicycle. And if it were to actually be a success it would probably overcrowd quickly.

    • AG says:

      This is all about the WTC – which the PA controls… The Port Authority does NOT have the same mission as the MTA or even NJ Transit.

  6. John-2 says:

    Can’t the Port Authority just sell the PATH headhouse/shopping mall at the WTC to Larry Silverstein? Based on the construction costs there, that should net about $4 billion for the EWR link (I kid! I kid!).

    Actually, the main positive thing I could see here is if the EWR station is successful and manages in some way to alter patters on day commuters away from LGA to EWR, it might spur the MTA to take a new look at a subway link to LaGuardia — either by butting heads again over an N extension from Astoria, or splitting the 7 line around Willet’s Point and sending some of the trains along the shoreline of Flushing Bay to the airport.

  7. Michael K says:

    Eliminating the Airtrain and having PATH directly service each terminal is a plan worth something. This just aggravates me. Enough with the terrible transfers.

    • BoerumHillScott says:

      Having 10 car platfroms at each terminal, plus the parking areas would be a huge waste.

      Multi-terminal airports don’t really have the traffic patterns or geometry for direct transit service to all terminals, and all large airports need additional systems to get people betwen councourses and to parking/rental facilities.

      • Andrew Marbach says:

        What about one airport station in the middle, (say under Terminal B short term parking) and then underground moving walkways to each of Terminals A and C?

        • Nathanael says:

          One at C, one between A & B, one between the two rental car locations….

          • BoerumHillScott says:

            At $250 million per station (based on Harrison rebuild price), plus costs for guide way in a crowded airport, you just spent an extra $800 million+ and still skipped 2 parking areas served by Airtrain today.

            I would much rather spend a few hundred million making the current Airtrain better/faster while keeping the stations.

            It is too bad they chose the monorail instead of a more standard system.

            • SEAN says:

              One at C, one between A & B, one between the two rental car locations….

              I think you got something there, but United is the airline you need to cater to most since they are the hub carrier.

              • SEAN says:

                At $250 million per station (based on Harrison rebuild price), plus costs for guide way in a crowded airport, you just spent an extra $800 million+ and still skipped 2 parking areas served by Airtrain today.

                A justifiable price concerning the other options out there.

                I would much rather spend a few hundred million making the current Airtrain better/faster while keeping the stations.

                The problem is the AirTrain it self. I don’t know how you could reconfiggure the existing service without substantial modifications. By that time, you might as well replace the entire thing with PATH & be done with it.

      • Michael K says:

        Having ten-car platforms at each terminal and parking area is feasible since converting from 200′ platforms to 550′ is not that big of a deal.

        This is a game-changer for airport access in our region.

  8. Epson45 says:

    They might as well send PATH train to Staten Island.

    • Ryan says:

      I didn’t think it was possible to come up with a worse idea for mass transit on Staten Island than converting SIR into a branch of the regional rail network.

      And yet, somehow, we ended up here. Discussing PATH to Staten Island.

      I’m not convinced that extending the R across the Narrows and having it merge into the SIR before Grasmere is really all that bad of an idea, and the expected headways on the R are going to be limited enough that you could have an equal level of service provided on the existing SIR run with a southern extension to Perth Amboy and an northern extension to Bayonne as the newly-rechristened I train. Hell, that bypasses St. George, so you could even run yet another S train between St. George and Bayonne.

      Even if full-tilt NYCT subway service spread out across two full lines and a shuttle is too much to swallow (fiscally or otherwise) – you could extend HBLR over the Bayonne Bridge, and from Mariners Harbor, start branching out into a SILR network.

      If you absolutely, really, definitely wanted a Regional Rail option – there’s no need to choose between “commuter rail” or “freight rail” and you can run existing rolling stock over existing trackage between Mariners Harbor and Middlesex via South Plainfield OR the Raritan Valley Line; or between Mariners Harbor and any number of other locations with minimal new connecting track needing to be laid.

      Hell, there’s no good reason you can’t do a pick two or all three if the money and willpower is available! None of it is mutually exclusive. But cannibalizing the SIR so that we can feel good about running M8s or Arrow IIIs or whatever along that route heading for any number of far-flung places makes no sense, and dragging PATH all the way down to SI so that we can feel good about running PATH trains instead of icky HBLR (or reskinned HBLR) makes, similarly, no sense.

      • Ralfff says:

        Without getting into the finer points of your argument, which I mostly agree with; the sense PATH makes is this: if and only if PATH is integrated into New York City Subway, the trains are similar enough: PATH, subway, SIR— that we’re talking about condensing three different networks to one and consolidating railyards and maintenance costs etc. And we’re not putting any new kinds of vehicles or infrastructure within the MTA’s purview. Eventually, once could foresee getting rid of PATH-sized cars and making them BMT width (when the current cars reach end of lifespan, say).

        That said I agree it’s not on the table, not politically realistic, possibly not doable for a reasonable price, not that desirable today, and there are other legal considerations; for example even within the MTA the SIR is driven by train engineers, not motormen, and they have a separate union. And it’s still less desirable if PATH is stopping at EWR. But that’s the argument, such as it is.

        • Ryan says:

          My understanding is that the SIR already uses BMT rolling stock, will be updated to modern rolling stock as part of a B Division fleet procurement, and is effectively identical to any given B Division line in the system right now, so it’s more like condensing two networks into one plus reconnecting a long-severed branch of one of those networks.

          I agree that folding PATH into the subway system (and long-term replacing PATH stock with NYCT subway stock – I’d argue that replacing PATH with A Division trains makes more sense but that’s another conversation entirely) is a laudable goal. However, I don’t think we need PATH to SI to accomplish that.

  9. Brandon says:

    The only advantage of this plan is that people can get to Newark cheaper than NJT. Not sure why the Governor of NJ wants to undermine NJT though.

    • Eric F says:

      This doesn’t undermine NJT. Not that it matters, but NJT hates stopping at teh airport. The dwell times slow down trains and it’s basically a roadblock. Ever notice that Amtrak stops there as little as possible?

  10. Scott E says:

    “they may look to find private dollars for a garage for non-airport travelers near the new station”

    If there’s any near-justification for the investment, this is it. Turn it into a Park-and-Ride, serving NJ and PATH (and possibly Amtrak) but limit it to 24-hours to avoid it becoming airport parking.

    Though I agree, the logical idea is to extend PATH to the terminals – I’m sure the fare-payment details could be worked out somehow.

  11. Eric F says:

    Observations:

    There’s no “existing right of way”. Scout out the area. There’s no fallow right of way. If there was, this would cost much less. You are making up cost inflation under a false premise.

    First extension of PATH in basically forever. First heavy rail expansion of any kind in NJ since Midtown Direct. Very exciting.

    PATH will also be enhanced by the Harrison and Grove Street rebuilds. They did not say that this gets you 10 car trains, but that’s clearly the implication. I hope that takes less than 10 years but I doubt it.

    A park and ride there would be key, to get rid of the use of CBD Newark as a park and ride. This would be a very nice benefit to Newark’s revitalization.

    In terms of cost control, does the PA actually have a problem? I’m not saying they don’, but the WTC craziness seems sui generis, and I wouldn’t use that as a yardstick for anything.

    Overall the capital plan was really lame. The most exciting aspects are the PATH work and the previously authorized Goethals Bridge project, which they hung a 2017 completion date on. There is nothing in there about improving the PA bus terminal operations, nothing about replacing the awful Outerbridge, nothing on Holland Tunnel approaches, really not much at all. Looking at NYC in 2024, it’ll look pretty much like it does now.

    • Nathanael says:

      There is fallow right-of-way from the end of the current PATH tracks all the way to Newark Airport station. There’s a messy bit trying to get across McCarter Highway, the railyard, the intersecting railroads, and I-78.

      • Eric F says:

        Adding an elevated section next to a 100+ year old viaduct, threading a line by Route 21, etc. sounds tough to me. But maybe it’s easy, in which case I’m sure somebody will provide a low bid.

        • adirondacker12800 says:

          elevate over the NEC, elevate over Route21/McCarter Highway and elevate over the freight portion of the Raritan Valley line is not going to be as cheap as throwing some rails down on an existing right of way. The costs include the shiny new station too. And the yard space they will have to find and create. The current PATH tracks between Penn Station and South Street are used as yard off peak.

          • Nathanael says:

            Yard space not a problem, put it next to the station, which will be next to the AirTrain station.

            The problem is getting across Route 21, I-78, and the Raritan Valley Line. (Uh, and the NEC, because you’d be on the west side trying to get to the east.) It might be easiest to tunnel, but that seems messy too.

        • Nathanael says:

          Adding an elevated section next to a 100+ year old viaduct is easy. You just widen the viaduct. Or sink some piers if you prefer.

          As I say, there’s a messy bit at the highway and railroad junction — maybe that’s where the money is going?

          South of that there’s an open green field (literally) on the east side of the Northeast Corridor.

    • Bolwerk says:

      What Nathanael said. Between existing developed ROW (PATH tail tracks, maybe the NEC itself), unimproved ROW (e.g., room along the NEC that doesn’t have tracks), and greenfield airport property, there is precious little to drive costs up to subway levels.

      • Eric F says:

        Awesome. I hope the PA reads these comments and scuttles the project, announcing that it’s cancelling the rail extension at the behest of rail enthusiasts.

        • VLM says:

          I realize you’re being intentionally obtuse and, for some reason, overly confrontational, but you do realize there’s a public comment period for a purpose? If the PA took a long, hard look at costs and ridership projections, there would probably be a good reason to deprioritize this project, and not just at the behest of rail enthusiasts who, if you read closely, are generally supportive of the idea.

          • Eric F says:

            Irony: The same people complaining that NJT cheaped out on the Meadowlands spur are horrified at the idea that a PATH extension would cost so much.

            • VLM says:

              That’s a complete non sequitur to my point, but if NJ Transit had spent three times as much on the Meadowlands spur as they did, that project still wouldn’t have cost half as much as the proposed PATH extension.

        • Bolwerk says:

          FFS, Eric, think you can do better response than pugnacious teenager sarcasm for once? What did I say that was wrong? Why should this cost nearly an order of magnitude more than a similar project anywhere else?

          You said to scout the area. As much as I could, I actually did. Even on foot a little.

          • SEAN says:

            Can you describe what you found as you went along the route including general conditions?

            Thanks.

            • Eric F says:

              There was a good point up there, by the way. It may very well be that this is a long-term aspirational project to mollify Christie that is very much de-prioritized down the line and cancelled for lack of funds. That would not be shocking.

              What I saw is a viaduct that narrows along 21, and must be expanded and requires some way of vaulting over some very complex, crucial and seriously used infrastructure, presumably leaving room for future NEC expansion and RVL flyover. When and if they ever design the sucker, you’ll be able to see what it entails. My guess is, rather a lot.

              • SEAN says:

                Not easy when you are legally blind.

                • Bolwerk says:

                  Actually, Eric is basically right about the conditions in Newark. Probably a kilometer of urban grade separated ROW is needed; I suspect it would have to be elevated. That should be the expensive part. The obvious follow-up question is: what is the other ~$1.3 billion+ for?

                  • SEAN says:

                    Oh, lets se –

                    . station construction
                    . envirenmental assessments
                    . right of way aquizission
                    . new rolling stock
                    . road work
                    . security elements – being near an airport
                    . payments to the mafia

                    I think that should cover it.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      Going down that list:

                      Station: Let’s go crazy: $50M for one above ground station? $100M seems nuts.

                      Environmental assessments: Got me there, but I would think seven figures. This one is silly, but you’re probably right that it is needlessly expensive.

                      ROW: Perhaps $0, as the present PATH ROW, NEC, airport, and public space in Newark are all already publicly owned. I’m not sure what would need to be taken near the airport.

                      Rolling stock: Maybe $30M/train-set. How many more trains are needed? 5 or 6 tops? So, $180M maybe?

                      Road work: Negligible, part of ROW acquisition.

                      Airport security: Meaningless on landside.

                      Mafia: Whatever is left over after the above and below.

                      You missed something that may actually be sorta big: the current PATH ROW south of Newark Penn is used for storage. That would need to somewhere, probably in greenfield space near the airport. Probably an eight figure expense.

                    • SEAN says:

                      Yeah I forgot that last one, but here’s one other – angry NYMBY’s with there unessessary legal filings & there associated costs & delays.

                    • SEAN says:

                      I realized as I was typing my last comment, you may have made an error. You are assuming only station may get built, but what if more than one station gets constructed or the AirTrain gets reconfiggured to carry aditional passengers? We’ll find out once more details come out.

                    • Bolwerk says:

                      @SEAN: NIMBYs belong under “maifa.” You didn’t forget.

                      It looks like one station is planned. Another station in the south side of Newark might make sense, but it’s an industrial area and would probably be a very expensive build for little additional ridership.

                      I actually do like the idea of going to Elizabeth.

                  • lawhawk says:

                    Port Authority built JFK Airtrain for $2 billion along the Van Wyck ROW, including several miles of elevated track over serious infrastructure. That includes all aspects from the yards to stations.

                    Why this would cost almost as much for a significantly shorter routing is troubling. What are we missing here in the cost (and which the PANY documents are lacking at this point)?

                    • SEAN says:

                      Perhaps there are road & terminal upgrades involved? The PA is notorious for constant airport terminal construction & renovation projects. As we speak, Terminal 4 at JFK is being expanded in a multi phased project for Delta. As a result, terminals 2 & 3 will be demolished. Infact, terminal 3 is already gone.

  12. Wainscott says:

    Why not just expand PATH to Staten Island at this point. And to Atlantic Terminal-Brooklyn.

    • AG says:

      Well the plan after 9/11 was to build another tunnel to Atlantic Terminal that would allow both LIRR and an AirTrain type unit to go directly to connect with the WTC (and Fulton Center)… when Gov. Spitzer and Paterson took over they didn’t prioritize it and the Federal Government took the money off the table that was there.

  13. pschorf says:

    This is great news for North Jersey residents. My current transit option to get to Hoboken from EWR is AirTrain -> NJ Transit -> PATH (to JSQ) -> PATH (to Hoboken), and I’ve never taken it. A straight PATH connection, although long, would be enough of an alternative for me to take it over a taxi.

  14. Phantom says:

    When you look at that map, it sure looks like you could consider stretching PATH further to the northwest corner of Staten Island, where it might link with the North Shore Railway / Busway if that is ever built.

    It is an astonishing fact that there are nearly no mass transit links between SI and NJ, despite the fact that many people commute or otherwise travel between these places.

    I would think that this shortcut to the airport and to NJT and NJ generally would be very popular among Staten Islanders. While providing another way to get to Manhattan which would actually make sense to those who live in the NW corner of SI.

    • Eric F says:

      Why not extend the SIR to Perth Amboy NJT station?

    • Wainscott says:

      Maps also reveal that a connection off of SIR by Richmond Valley lines up for a bridge to the Kinder Morgan Perth Amboy plant, with connections seemingly easily made to other rail rights of way.

      http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/.....id_Transit

    • BenS says:

      Far more effective would be an extension of the HBLR. The far northwest corner of Staten Island by the Goethals Bridge is uninhabited anyway–the closest residents live just west of the Bayonne Bridge.

      There is a right of way that could extend the North Shore line into NJ through Linden and Roselle that meets up with NJT at Cranford station.

      • BenS says:

        Alternatively, it could be directed north along the NJT starting in Linden (but well north of Linden station) to reach EWR and Newark Penn.

      • Phantom says:

        I’m genuinely surprised that you never hear talk of transit west from SI.

        Its probably the biggest totally unserved corridor in the Northeast. Zillions of cars day and night over grossly inadequate bridges and not one bus or train.

  15. Phantom says:

    Eric F

    An interesting idea. Which would restore the long lost mass transit that had existed between Tottenville SI and Perth Amboy ( the ferry )

    http://www.nypl.org/blog/2008/.....ille-ferry

    • Eric F says:

      Unfortunately, the coast line is rather slow, but I’d like to see it. It would allow a train to the airport and to Newark events, but it would be an arduous connection for Amtrak. Ideally, you’d have ARC/Gateway or something which would speed up the NJ coast line. More intriguingly, if you ever extended the S.I.R. to Manhattan under the harbor, it’d be really useful to have a westward extension into NJ as well.

  16. Spendmor Wastemor says:

    1.5 Billion to lay down track on existing roadbed. I am outraged!
    Clearly, they stolen the patented expenditure embiggenation method from Spendmor Consulting LLC.

    I shall sue!

  17. Michael says:

    Just imagine, direct from the newly built World Trade Center, there are the following airport connections:

    a) via PATH trains to/from Newark Airport
    b) via the MTA “A-Trains” to/from JFK Airport
    c) via the MTA “E-Trains” and the M60 bus to/from LaGuardia Airport

    Yes, at both JFK, and at Newark such a rider would have to use the local terminal connectors called, AirTrain, but let’s look at the big picture. This extension IS A Good Idea for several reasons. One is the pure hassle of just getting both to and from the airports. Mysterious and not well publicized public transit methods simply does not help the public. Taking several differents combinations of trains, buses, and/or rail commuter systems all with different fares and schedules, and then add on top of that getting to the airport early to deal with the dreaded TSA agents – could lead a lot of folks to not want to deal with those kinds of hassles.

    Yes, there is the question about the projected costs, the designs and other important details. Hopefully more information will be coming out sooner than later. And yes there is the issue about the “on time construction issues”, as well as the management of the whole project, especially given some current projects. Again more details to come, and yes those details are important.

    None of the above concerns negates the idea that this is a good idea.
    Mike

    • VLM says:

      I largely agree with you that this is a very good project, but I’m just curious as to your life philosophy. Is anything ever a bad idea?

      • SEAN says:

        Cant Michael just be happy in trying to find the good in transit projects even if they are misguided? Even poorly executed transit projects may have worthwhile elements within them.

        Sometimes the wining on here gets a little heavy & isn’t all that constructive.

        Sean –

  18. Clarke says:

    If you believe the $1.5 billion price tag, I have a cross-harbor freight tunnel to sell you

  19. erictb says:

    To eliminate the two seat ride, I used to always say they should simply extend the new PATH guideway right into the middle of the parking area the terminals arc around, and then have moving walkways radiate out from it to the different terminals.
    But now I see there is a Mariott there. Is that new; I remember it being flat parking space. Anyway, they could probably still build a terminal somewhere near there.

    Even without that, it would still be easier to get there for people not paying for the railroad or express buses with the direct transfer to the monorail.

  20. Bill says:

    It would seem to me that the best option would be to extend the AirTrain People mover at EWR to Newark Penn Station. That would give the same effect for everyone using PATH to get to EWR as extending PATH to the existing Airtrain station on the NEC: just one transfer to get to the airport. But it would also provide a one seat ride for everyone in downtown Newark, plus a one transfer (instead of 2 currently) for everyone going to the airport from ALL NEC Amtrak and NJTransit trains, all Raritan Vally NJT trains, North Jersey Coastline trains, the Newark City Subway, and the numerous bus lines that serve Newark Penn. It would still take 2 transfers to get to Morris and Essex, Boonton, Spring Valley and Bergen line NJT trains unfortunately, but a later extension to Newark Broad Street could remedy that in part.

  21. Alton Henson says:

    Any rail-based expansion of the NY-NJ network – especially one which will improve mobility with in a troubled Newark – will improve regional mobility, access to local jobs, and quality of life. The people of Newark deserve it. For decades they’ve been pretty much shut out of the benefit of the airport in their backyard, while dealing with the noise & air pollution it generates. Let’s consider them for a change. It’s a clever reuse of the surrounding area, and a win win for the entire region. Besides, NO one wants to lug bags onto already crowded buses. Let’s a lil get real, and get on board.

    • Bill says:

      For reasons I and I think others have pointed out let me ask this: What would extending PATH to Newark Airport accomplish that extending the Newark Air Train to Newark Penn not accomplish? And if the answer is little or nothing, then which is cheaper? Extending the People Mover rather than PATH makes lots more sense as it means fewer transfers for far more people.
      Even people coming from WTC and other PATH served stops will have to transfer to the People Mover (Air Train) unless PATH goes directly into EACH terminal at Newark, and yet the Air Train not only does that but also goes to Rental Cars and parking lots.

      • Alton Henson says:

        The PATH is ubiquitous with NY-NJ as a whole. EWR AirTrain is ubiquitous with EWR. Also, PATH boasts a higher capacity. It just makes more sense from a regional standpoint.
        Also, people are already clamoring for AirTrain to be replaced. No such discussion is in the works for PATH.
        Also, AirTrain is an airport people-mover, while PATH is a regional rail network.
        We cannot ask AirTrain to be more than it is, yet we can ask for more from PATH. The price to extend PATH does sound prohibitive, and it sounds like the people who made those bids are a bit greedy. However, A new round of bidding, and a few tweaks to the project itself should bring this cost down to a much more reasonable threshold. In this case we should be thinking Regional connections, not just a new connection to an airport. It’s about Job linkage and job creation. I think I covered all of those points in my post.

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