Home Asides Crain’s: Ward’s PA job is safe

Crain’s: Ward’s PA job is safe

by Benjamin Kabak

It appears that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going to keep Christopher Ward in charge of the Port Authority after all. Despite a report yesterday of a chilly relationship between the new New York executive and the well-regarded head of the Port Authority, Crain’s Insider says today that Ward will remain atop the PA for now. Says Crain’s, “Foes of Ward in New Jersey are believed to have planted the rumor.” The governor, meanwhile, issued a perfunctory statement in support of the executive director: ‚ÄúThere are no plans to replace Chris Ward at this time.”

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Bolwerk June 3, 2011 - 12:18 pm

Hmm. Firing him always seemed very “WTF?” to me. I can understand that a governor would want his own guy in, even if he’s replacing someone already good, but Ward has been transformational.

Ray June 3, 2011 - 2:49 pm

Wonder who those “foes from NJ” may be?

Andrew D. Smith June 3, 2011 - 6:07 pm

Can someone explain why Ward is so well regarded? I’m not being snide. I’d simply like an article that explains his accomplishments.

Nothing I see that’s controlled by the PA works well. Ground Zero will end up about $10b over budget and several decades late. 1 WTC is being built at 1/5th the pace of the ESB. PATH just committed itself for several decades to new trains that don’t improve upon the old trains. (They look and ride nicer and probably use less power, but they offer no transformational improvements. They’re no faster. They’re not driverless. They’re not even articulated.) The airports are among the worst in the country. There have been no improvements I can see in the Hudson crossings.

Not that any of this reflects poorly on Ward, to my knowledge. All these things were true before he came and transforming a huge organization is incredibly hard. (I’m a pretty be Walder supporter, even though subway service has gotten worse under his watch. It would have gotten worse much faster under a worse leader.) That said, I’ve not seen any evidence that things would be much worse at the PA but for Ward’s brilliance. Anyone have some place to point me?

Tsuyoshi June 3, 2011 - 8:56 pm

I don’t have an answer to your main question, but I think PATH actually works pretty well, especially compared to other transit in New Jersey. I don’t see anything wrong with it.

Andrew D. Smith June 4, 2011 - 10:29 am

The PATH is worse in terms of trip speed and prime time service frequency than when it opened before WWI.

It closes down half of its routes after 11 every night and all day Saturday and Sunday, more than doubling the time of a trip between JC and midtown Manhattan or the time of a trip between Hoboken and WTC.

Trains come on a 15 or 20 minute schedule pretty much any time that isn’t prime time. That’s not mass transit. That’s commuter rail.

PATH will be spending more than $6 billion on what is basically a single track subway station.

A PATH train crashes into a PATH station at least once a year. This year, Hoboken. Last year, 33rd St.

Signal failures shut down PATH service for several hours every couple months.

Someone at PATH chooses to torture riders every day with unending public service announcements about broken elevators in some random station or Red Bulls games, every 30 seconds. Every 30 seconds. Every day.

PATH tries to excuse all its failures with constant terror alerts about how they’re trying so hard to keep you safe (which is why we can’t just run this thing properly, we’re spending all our resources on terror).

PATH pays its cops an average of $150k a year in total compensation to talk to one another. (Have you ever seen a PA cop help riders by telling a disruptive rider to shut up, let alone actually arrest anyone? How many felony convictions per year come from that police staff, which should just be abolished in its entirety? 10?)

I could go on.

Alon Levy June 4, 2011 - 4:20 am

The airports are actually okay. The problem with them is air traffic congestion. In the last few years I’ve learned to appreciate JFK, where I can show up to an international flight 35 minutes before departure and still get a boarding pass if I’m not carrying luggage.

Andrew D. Smith June 4, 2011 - 10:17 am

Obviously the PA can’t fix crowded airspace. But the PA can fix things like the security lines, which are worse at all three locals than at well run airports and the baggage claim speeds, which suck here. All three NYC airports always rank near the bottom of traveler surveys for reasons that go beyond delays that are out of the PA’s hands. (JFK is awesome for sheer international destination variety, but that is no more due to PA genius than air traffic is due to its shortcomings.) Are their problems terrible? Not to me. I’m just saying that they don’t seem to offer any proof that Ward is some sort of management god.

Alon Levy June 4, 2011 - 9:43 pm

Are the security lines really all that long? I’m asking seriously here; the only terminal I’ve had bad experience with is T3, and even there security takes only a few minutes.

Bolwerk June 4, 2011 - 12:43 pm

He has cut waste, which is already impressive, but he actually is one of the few regional officials with a smart long-term outlook and maybe the only one with an international outlook. He’s actually willing to take operational cues from Europe, for instance.


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