Home 7 Line Extension Report: Bloomberg set to push for 7 to Secaucus

Report: Bloomberg set to push for 7 to Secaucus

by Benjamin Kabak

Could the 7 trains, seen here in Flushing, be bound for Secaucus, New Jersey? (7 trains galore by flickr user SpecialKRB)

When it comes to transit planning, the concept of legacy is a dangerous one for New York politicians. Instead of finding new funding sources or promoting transit investment that improves the current system based upon need, politicians prefer something flashy that will carry their names well beyond their term-limited time in the New York arena. That is, after all, one of the reasons why Mayor Bloomberg is funding the 7 line extension to the Hudson Yards area while the Second Ave. Subway struggles to move beyond Phase 1.

Now, the Mayor is poised to push forward on a plan to extend the 7 line westward, past the boundaries of New York City, under the Hudson River and to Secaucus. It would be a monumental project with a price tag today of around $10 billion and a construction time of ten years. It would represent the first extension of the New York City subway to areas outside of New York City. With various stakeholders — including the city, New Jersey, the Port Authority, the federal government and the MTA — it has the potential to be a complicated project, but according to a report in the The Post, the mayor wants to get it off the ground before he leaves office in 2013.

This tale began last November when the city, without notifying the MTA or anyone else really, floated a plan to send the 7 to Secaucus as a potential ARC replacement. The move would provide a one-seat ride from New Jersey to midtown and would further spur growth at the Hudson Yards area. The city paid Parsons Brinckerhoff $250,000 to conduct a feasibility study, and apparently, Bloomberg likes what he’s seen from the preliminary report.

Calling this subway extension “a heck of a lot better” than the ARC Tunnel, one source in the Bloomberg administration said things could move forward quickly. “This is a really good project,” the source told The Post. “The mayor wants this.” Whatever Mikey wants, Mikey gets.

The Post has more:

Mayor Bloomberg is pushing forward with a proposal to extend the No. 7 train to New Jersey and get the project locked in before he leaves City Hall in two years…Although noncommittal in public, Hizzoner is now a fan of the concept and is looking to announce the next planning steps in the coming months, sources said. Bloomberg would then be able to go public with a formal proposal by the end of 2012, in a bid to get the New Jersey-bound No. 7 tunnel on track by the close of his third term, Dec. 31, 2013…

The next steps in the process are a full business plan and environmental-impact study, which have not yet been commissioned. During his weekly radio appearance on WOR Friday, Bloomberg didn’t reveal his enthusiasm for the project, saying only, “If there’s money for it and it makes sense, I’d certainly support it.”

But yesterday, Bloomberg spokeswoman Julie Wood sounded a more optimistic note: “Since we began exploring this idea, we continue to think it has a lot of potential as a way to cost-effectively improve regional transportation and also create thousands of jobs.”

Officials in the Christie administration and the Port Authority are working with City Hall on the No. 7 concept, but insist that the mayor take the lead. Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said yesterday, “We have been intrigued all along by this as a potential alternative.”

The issues, of course, focus around the money. Where will anyone find $10 billion for the project? Would the Port Authority be involved in a cross-Hudson project that uses MTA services and rolling stock? What would New Jersey contribute? How would New York City fund such an expansion — and should the city even be looking at an out-of-state subway line when so many routes within the five boroughs could use the attention?

For their part, MTA officials were silent on the news. Speaking after the MTA Board meeting this morning, Transit president Thomas Prendergast didn’t offer up too much. “We have to see what results of the study are,” he said. “It would be premature to comment on it.”

Ultimately, as The Post notes, though, this move is all about Bloomberg’s legacy. Moving forward with such an ambitious project would cement his place in the annals of city history. He would be the mayor who delivered the subway to New Jersey. Yet, whether we need this subway extension, whether the dollars are there and whether they could be better spent remains to be seen.

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Marc Shepherd October 26, 2011 - 12:39 pm

This strikes me as an awfully good project — a home run, really — if Bloomie can get it funded.

Of course, legacy infrastructure projects have a terrible track record of getting built, because it takes years to get them off the ground, and the next mayor is seldom interested in pursuing his predecessor’s agenda.

But in terms of the merits (which is all we can assess), I wouldn’t be so down on it.

CosmoNYC October 26, 2011 - 12:50 pm

I find it unbelievable that anyone would think this is a good idea. As the Mayor of New York, Bloomberg should want to expand transportation to parts of HIS city that help spur economic development, like say, a station for the 7 train at 41st and 10th Ave.

I’m sure in the $10 Billion it would cost to build out to NJ we can find better ways to serve subway riders – starting with building the station that was previously abandoned.

Benjamin Kabak October 26, 2011 - 12:51 pm

That’s what really makes this a joke. The Mayor can’t find $500-$800 million to build a station at 41st and 10th Ave. but will somehow show up with a few billion to send the subway to New Jersey. Brilliant.

Jim Kingdon October 26, 2011 - 1:20 pm

Most of the subway-to-secaucus plans I’ve seen have included the 10th Ave station (in fact, I suspect that figuring out a way to pay for that station is part of what gets people interested). I don’t know better than anyone else whether subway-to-secaucus idea has legs (in terms of finding new money, rather than just fighting it out with other MTA projects), but budget battles can get very odd, so who knows?

Benjamin Kabak October 26, 2011 - 2:02 pm

If that’s the case, then the biggest barriers remain money and politics. I’d rather see the dollars spent within New York City, but there is no denying that (a) funds will be available here that otherwise wouldn’t be if it’s cross-Hudson and (b) we need a new cross-Hudson rail link. If Bloomberg and NJ can figure this out, that’s a pretty big accomplishment.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 2:17 pm

I have no idea how you’d finance this. The PA has no unobligated money, NJ’s trust fund is bankrupt, and I can’t see NY paying much toward this project even if it had unobligated funds for it. Unless Uncle Sam drops mana from heaven, it’s a mystery as to how you get enough money together to do it.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 2:23 pm

The other point not touched on is the bus angle (isn’t there always a bus angle?). I’d rather the PA build a separate bus tunnel from the Meadowlands under the Palisades to its bus terminal, but in the absence of that, this project would effectively make Secaucus the largest regional bus terminal. It’ll take people about a week to figure out that they can greatly enhance trip reliability by taking a bus to Secaucus and then hopping on the 7, rather than roll the dice on a 90 minute trip through the Lincoln Tunnel, at which point they are likely transferring to a subway anyway.

al October 27, 2011 - 1:34 am

$350 million.

Marc Shepherd October 26, 2011 - 1:49 pm

Is it not obvious? The bang for the buck of this project dwarfs that of the 41st/10th station, and if you do it right, New Jersey and the Port Authority will even pitch in, something they wouldn’t do for a project inside the city borders.

The need for more trans-Hudson capacity has been recognized for decades. This project would cost less than the ARC tunnel, and in many ways it will be better, as it would have better transit connections and would go to the east side, where most of the midtown jobs are. Mind you, I am not defending the cancellation of ARC or the 41st/10th station, but those decisions are in the past.

Now, it might be an interesting argument whether there is a better transit use for $10 billion. But to say you can’t even see the merits of this particular idea just shows you aren’t trying very hard.

Alon Levy October 26, 2011 - 10:37 pm

You’re misusing the term “bang for the buck” rather horribly: you’re talking about the bang, but not the buck. Yes, the 7 to Secaucus is more useful than the 41st/10th station, but is it 10 times more useful?

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 1:50 pm

At least in theory, New Jersey, or other financial sources besides New York, would help fund a 7-to-Secaucus project. So the analogy to the 10th Avenue Station’s fortunes is inexact, at best.

Amusing how elected officials are damned when they don’t (care at all about rail transit) and damned (with faint praise at best) when they actually advocate something, however flawed.

CosmoNYC October 26, 2011 - 3:34 pm

It’s also amusing how little support major politicians have for projects that transit experts and advocates support (7 stop at 41st and 10th, ARC, Tappan Zee Bridge transit, SAS, etc.) as opposed to those that fit their political agendas.

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:44 pm

Often, but not always. In New Jersey, Burlington County officials were vociferous in their unwavering support for what is now the RiverLINE, countering Camden County officials (opposed) and swaying Camden City officials (supportive but relatively powerless). Then again, agreeing with CosmoNYC, a lot of transit “experts,” not to mention one NJ Transit executive director, trash-talked the RiverLINE. We hear that trash talk a lot less these days.

Bolwerk October 26, 2011 - 7:14 pm

It’s hard for politicians in the NY region to prioritize. That’s because any time they shift resources in another direction, someone cries. Crime has dropped and dropped and dropped, yet we can’t get rid of cops we don’t need. A few NIMBYs cry about curbside access on 34th Street, so we can’t have BRT – even though BRT would save so much time for so many people. Even on the transit/transportation system, there are so many examples of things we could be doing better if only we redirected our resources: token booth clerks or toll collectors could clean subway stations, conductors could drive trains (even fantasy LRT trains). And you can find examples in other places too, like the schools.

Marc Frasier October 26, 2011 - 1:16 pm

I can think of a host of other ways the MTA could use that $10 BILLION! Here are my top five:

1. Finish the Second Ave Line in its entirety (with feasible extensions to the outer-boroughs).

2. Design and complete first ever rail transit connection to Staten Island (via Manhattan and/or Brooklyn!

3. Create a new Garbage Division to help with the system’s ever-popular rat problem!

4. Help provide more efficient train service throughout the entire system!

5. Allow better access to the region’s multiple airports! (Because the M60 bus is truly the bane of my existence).

*Honorable Mention
-Extend the 2,3,4,5,C,E,F and M trains to better serve the communities of Eastern Brooklyn and Eastern Queens.

Andy Battaglia October 26, 2011 - 4:25 pm

This is a useless list with a useless point since the MTA wouldn’t be paying for this at all and the city would only be contributing a portion of that 10 billion dollar price tag. You can’t have New Jersey contribute money to a Manhattan – Staten Island rail link or the second avenue subway.

Josh October 28, 2011 - 12:16 pm

You could if the Staten Island rail link continued into New Jersey.

Alex C October 26, 2011 - 5:31 pm

I second the Second Avenue Subway idea. If they can find $10 billion for this, they can find $10 billion for an actual important project in the city. And that 10 Ave station on the 7.

Rob October 26, 2011 - 1:30 pm

One of the great things about the NYC subway is that the infrastructure is owned by NYC and only exists within the city’s limits to serve people within the city. If you look at a city like Boston, where the rapid transit system is state owned and operated, the only expansions for the past 40 years have extended its reach far outside of the city. The Boston “subway” has become more of a commuter rail system with park-and-ride garages by highway exits, up to 13 miles outside of city limits. In fact, a large portion of the rapid transit system runs parallel to commuter rail lines making a sort of local/express system with spacing similar to the Queens Boulevard line. Some of the far reaching stations South of Boston have absolutely no TOD and only serve a thousand or so people who are able to park there.

I’m not very familiar with the geography West of the Hudson, but why not utilize PATH, which is already a bi-state subway/commuter rail system and build a spur to Secaucus and/or an additional Hudson crossing? I think it’s very important to add additional rail capacity under the Hudson, but the 7 train extension would turn into a de facto commuter rail line, and open the door for additional outward expansion in the future.

AlexB October 26, 2011 - 1:43 pm

I am pretty sure the subway is owned entirely by the MTA, which is an authority effectively run by the state. The reason the subway doesn’t cross the city’s borders could be because the city used to own the subway, but that hasn’t been true for decades. Regardless, there would have to be a deal with New Jersey which would have to help with the costs to build and operate the extension.

Rob October 26, 2011 - 1:51 pm

From what I understand, NYC actually owns the infrastructure, whereas the MTA operates the subway as a state agency. I think it’s a similar arrangement in Connecticut, where ConnDOT owns the Metro North ROW for operation by the MTA.

Marc Shepherd October 26, 2011 - 1:59 pm

PATH’s two existing Hudson crossings go no where near Secaucus, and could not logically be made to go there.

If you are building a new Hudson crossing, the question is where to put it. The beauty of this plan is that the #7 will already be practically at the water’s edge, at 11th Avenue. What made ARC so expensive was the need to construct a whole new subterranean station cavern beneath Herald Square. This project wouldn’t need that, because the Manhattan stations would already exist.

Mind you, like most transit advocates I was not happy to see ARC cancelled, but its moment has passed. The only question is what to do in lieu of it.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 2:25 pm

Agree, and I’m not sure this project would eliminate the need for ARC anyway. It certainly does not eliminate the need for some “Gateway” type project to enhance commuter/interstate train capacity into NY.

Alon Levy October 26, 2011 - 10:42 pm

A Manhattan station already existed for ARC. Per platform it was underused, too. The problem was 100% agency turf battles: separate ticketing, separate concourses, no through-service, long dwell times, poor punctuality.

Russell October 28, 2011 - 9:56 am

A spur could be created after Journal Square to Secaucus. Additional money could be spent to lengthen all PATH platforms, and to buy more rolling stock. My guess is that this would cost far less than $10 billion.

Frank B. October 26, 2011 - 1:36 pm

“Yay!” Say the people of New Jersey, who pay nothing into New York State Taxes, who now have subsidized sprawl in the form of a Subway in New Jersey.

“Boo!” say the people of Queens, Staten Island, and Parts of Brooklyn, who, despite actually living in New York City, and paying City taxes, have a commute that’s longer than some New Jersey commuters.

“Boo!” say the people who stand the corner of 10th Avenue in Midtown, waiting for a train that will never come.

Listen, if we could fund all the projects in the region, it would be absolutely great. But quite frankly, we don’t even have enough money to fund our own capital programs, let alone fund more.

If we’re going to spend money we don’t have, it should be for a Gateway Tunnel, The Staten Island Tunnel, or The North Shore Line, or Triboro RX.

And those projects are just off the top of my head.

Thanks for your wonderful legacy, Bloomberg. See you in Hell.

Marc Frasier October 26, 2011 - 1:40 pm

I love the cattiness!

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 2:28 pm

It’s misplaced anyway. NYers “use” a lot of NJ stuff as it is, judging from a quick check of license plates around the region. In the same way, that a check of license plates show NJers using the Merritt Parkway and the Gowanus. NY certainly won’t be harmed by greater inter-regional mobility. I can think of abseball team in Queens that would love to see this project happen, as well as a football team in Jersey.

WilletsPoint-SheaStadium October 26, 2011 - 3:40 pm

Not to mention the U.S. Open…

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:32 pm

Here’s one New Jerseyan who pays taxes to both New York City and New York State, and does not resent it.

It’s understandable that an “only if it benefits us New Yorkers” advocacy surfaces. After all, it’s barely old news that we got a Staten Island-to-Manhattan MTA bus to stop in (the horror!) New Jersey. So far, that exchange (New Yorkers working in Jersey, Jerseyans working in Manhattan) seems productive enough.

Stewart Clamen October 26, 2011 - 4:44 pm

“Yay!” Say the people of New Jersey, who pay nothing into New York State Taxes, who now have subsidized sprawl in the form of a Subway in New Jersey.

NJ folk who commute into NY to work pay NY State taxes on that income (and vice versa for the NYers who commute to Jersey City)

Scott E October 26, 2011 - 8:40 pm

Not exactly, Frank. NJ residents who work in NY file income tax returns with both states. Then New Jersey gives them a “credit” for taxes paid to other states, and since NY taxes are higher than NJ, their tax obligation to NJ is zero. So in reality, New Jersey — not New York — loses out (tax-wise) on residents who work in the city. The benefit to NJ is that these commuters are generally NJ consumers and spend the money they earned in the Garden State.

Al D October 26, 2011 - 1:44 pm

Maybe if we buy a subway for NJ, they’ll buy a LRT for SI (extension of Hudson-Bergen) to SI Mall, or, gasp, Hylan Blvd!

TP October 26, 2011 - 2:31 pm

I actually think it’d be a perfect swap to have the 7 extend to Secaucus Junction and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail extend across the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island. Enough artificial political borders.

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:37 pm

Concur. And some New Jerseyans already are quietly working to advance that HBLRT extension into Staten Island. After all, when borough residents point *not* to “LRT,” but specifically to “HBLRT,” it’s time to try to lend a political hand (just to be clear, even before talk of any “swap”).

Clarke October 26, 2011 - 4:39 pm

Yes, here is a $10b rapid transit tunnel for you. Please paint a few highway lanes and run buses you probably already own in exchange. That’s a very fair deal.

AlexB October 26, 2011 - 2:09 pm

This could be a good project if it existed in a vacuum, with no other options. There are two huge reasons why it’s a terrible idea:
1. There are other projects with comparable costs that would be a much better use of cash. Prioritizing this over the remaining phases of the second avenue subway should be cause for New Yorkers to revolt against this.
2. The Gateway project or ARC (one of which must be built eventually) would free up capacity for almost all NJ commuter lines to have one seat rides into Manhattan. It’s easier/faster to get to the East Side from Penn than it would be from Secaucus via the 7. This would be a hugely expensive redundancy and would end up with very low ridership after Gateway is finished.

If you want to extend the 7 to New Jersey, it could be a good idea, but it should be done as a shorter route to Hoboken/Weehawken/Union City/etc. People in these areas now have to take a bus to a train to another train, etc. This is a major problem considering these neighborhoods are more dense than many areas of Brooklyn and extremely close to midtown, yet have much worse transit options. Operationally, they could be another Downtown Brooklyn, Long Island City, or Jersey City.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 2:31 pm

“It’s easier/faster to get to the East Side from Penn than it would be from Secaucus via the 7”

Why is that? The 7 to Secaucus would replace two subway transfers on cramped platforms, with one transfer at a new jazzed up station built more or less without spatial constraints. I would think that the commuter trains would be faster getting to the WEST side (no transfer and faster trains), but tha could depend on what sort of speed a 7 train out in the swamp can get up to.

Alon Levy October 26, 2011 - 10:46 pm

Eric, Secaucus may not have spatial constraints, but it’s still an awful transfer. It requires riders to go up, pass through faregates, and then go down again. And the trains aren’t timed to connect, so there are a few extra minutes of waiting. Waiting and transferring times are not friendly to passengers; transfer penalty literature has passengers rating a minute spent waiting or transferring about twice as long as a minute spent in motion when making their commute choice.

Spiderpig October 26, 2011 - 2:26 pm

It’s gonna be hard to find the money, but something that could be factored in is charging more than the standard subway ride at the station in New Jersey. If you have a price that is similar to the round-trip PATH train ticket, the subway would still be used more based on convenience and the free transfer.

Larry Littlefield October 26, 2011 - 2:31 pm

If New Jersey wants to pay for it fine.

But our transit system will be collapsing, as the city residents pay taxes for an improvement for New Jersey commuters that New Jersey was unwilling to pay for itself. The message is, move to New Jersey or pay for those who do.

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:47 pm

Please widen your despair (or disparagement) to include all New Jersey riders, not just
“commuters.” That word really, really hampers the cause of rail advocacy, more than many can imagine.

Again, from some New Jersey residents’ perspective, this is indeed a project that New Jersey certainly should assist in funding. Some of us, at least, aren’t looking for, nor assuming, that Gotham should carry the load alone.

John-2 October 26, 2011 - 2:45 pm

The MTA operates the Port Jervis line (or will again, starting next month) under agreement in New Jersey, and the Port Authority has financed the purchase of buses for the MTA in the past, so the inter-agency differences can be bridged on the tunnel, if the will was there and the financing could be found.

From the city’s standpoint, the main benefit would be increasing the attractiveness of the Hudson Yards project, by making access to the area bi-directional from both Queens via the Grand Central-Times Square area and New Jersey — that was one of the keys to why the World Trade Center was placed where it was by the Port Authority back in the 1960s. And the more attractive the area is for new commercial construction the more real estate, sales and income taxes the city can potentially receive in the future (the 41st-and-10th station died because it didn’t have enough business backing — residential building owners have some power with politicians, but not like those looking to make profits from commercial real estate construction).

Any areas on the north side of Hoboken between the Hudson and the planned terminal at the Secaucus transfer station also would figure to benefit from a one-seat ride to and from Manhattan, in the same way the areas around the PATH stations near the Hudson have boomed over the last 25 years. But it does come down to money, and how much skin New Jersey’s willing to put into the game on a project that will help New York, but overall would be a bigger benefit for New Jersey commuters.

Larry Littlefield October 26, 2011 - 2:52 pm

Read my Room Eight post. The extension already underway was supposed to generate the commercial development to pay back the city’s bonds. No double counting.

Also, to the consultant/construction complex that has Bloomberg’s earn, if the city can sacrifice its own residents in a time of austerity to pay for a $10 billion tunnel, why can’t the industry build it for $4 billion and leave the city alone?

John-2 October 26, 2011 - 3:42 pm

I don’t disagree with the private option, though since Mr. Steinway built the tunnel on the other side of Manhattan for the No. 7 train, the idea of private construction/operation of mass transit lines has gone out the window (though I supposed Bloomberg could toss a billion or so of his own earnest money into the pot if he really wanted to get this this going).

The main thing would be if a bi-direction link would fill up the Hudson Yard real estate faster with office space than a single-direction line. That wouldn’t be so much double counting as getting the buildings and the people and businesses in them on the tax rolls faster than if the access ran in just one direction. (It took two decades for the WTC complex to really fill up all of its available on-site and surrounding space following construction, so there’s no guarantee a Hudson tunnel to 34th and 11th would make that site fair any better. But eventually the income generated to the city downtown did surpass what it would have gotten if Radio Row and Hudson Terminal has remained intact, and part of the attraction was the direct connection to New Jersey.)

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 3:31 pm

“Any areas on the north side of Hoboken between the Hudson and the planned terminal at the Secaucus transfer station also would figure to benefit from a one-seat ride to and from Manhattan, in the same way the areas around the PATH stations near the Hudson have boomed over the last 25 years.”

This assumes it won’t be a non-stop run from the river to Secaucus, which I wouldn’t hold my breath for.

Bloomberg doesn’t seem to understand how transit works. He thinks in terms of “extend to X” without thinking of places in the middle.

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:51 pm

But for all that, some of us think the mayor’s support is a good one, because privately, he has acknowledged that it’s not his idea alone. Others have advanced this, off and on and over the years.

It’s probably wise not to assume where New Jersey stations might be built too quickly, but from a New Jersey political perspective it seems unlikely that Hudson County would acquiesce to a line underneath it, serving only Secaucus Junction and its (mainly) Bergen County draw, without some sort of quid pro quo, such as a station stop in the county where people live, and not just in the swamp where (admittedly a lot of) people transfer. We’ve seen subway stop spacing like that work.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 4:15 pm

Or there could be quick bus access to Secaucus from several points in eastern Hudson County. This would probably require updating the woeful local road network with some sort of comprehensive connection to County Road.

Alon Levy October 27, 2011 - 4:41 pm

Why would anyone want to take a bus west to Secaucus to get on a train to Manhattan, when they can take PATH?

Al D October 26, 2011 - 4:40 pm

A stop/transfer to HBLR would be useful.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 5:23 pm

I wonder about that. It would slow the train down, assuming it’s a one track in each direction alignment. Eastern Hudson County already has pretty solid, quick bus service into Manhattan. Buses from that area don’t have to endure the slog through 495. So there’s that, and I can’t think of any HBLR station, other than Liberty State Park that could handle a crush of morning traffic dropping off people without leading to a huge tie up on local through streets. That’s why I have a hard time imagining a station in North Hoboken.

Alon Levy October 27, 2011 - 4:43 pm

An intermediate stop delays a subway train by about 45 seconds.

Barock October 26, 2011 - 2:50 pm

This is INSANE. The rest of the 2nd Ave Subway will never be done. Even worse, they are now funding the unfunded part of the Phase 1 on a credit card…

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 2:56 pm

How would the 7 extension solve any rail capacity problems? It might relieve pressure on Penn Station and maybe Hoboken, but would it allow NJ Transit to provide more service at Secaucus? NJ Transit currently cannot run any more trains through Secaucus without continuing to Penn or Hoboken.

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 3:17 pm

In other words, this would only really add cross-Hudson capacity if it provided service to points between Secaucus and Manhattan. It will not help relieve lines to the north and west, since NJ Transit cannot increase service to Secaucus without also increasing service to Penn or Hoboken.

Larry Littlefield October 26, 2011 - 3:33 pm

That could change, if NJ just added a couple of yards at Seacaucus to allow trains from elsewhere to terminate there.

Again, the issue is who pays. I wouldn’t mind having NYCT operate the service. But NYC and the MTA should NOT pay to build it.

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 3:56 pm

Yards wouldn’t be enough. NJT would have to build new terminal platforms as well, plus new tracks from Newark Penn to extend the Raritan Valley Line. Joe Brennan suggests that an extension to Hoboken would make more sense. http://warofyesterday.blogspot.....ersey.html

In any case, I’d argue that this is an ill-conceived plan, even if the money were readily available.

Douglas John Bowen October 26, 2011 - 3:54 pm

It supplements and offers an alternative to the Lincoln Tunnel XBL, already at Level F or “Failure” mode at the rush and often outside it.

And for the New York-only crowd, that’s a fiscal consideration that’s worth considering. “Move across the river” is a great rejoinder, but doesn’t truly tap the purchasing power of all those evil Jerseyans who would otherwise have trouble accessing Manhattan.

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 4:07 pm

So the primary benefit would be increasing total bus service by running new service to Secaucus to connect to the 7. I’m not sure whether that’s worth $10 billion, but it’s a concrete capacity improvement, at least.

John from Bklyn October 27, 2011 - 9:30 am

The Secaucus Junction site was originally envisioned as a “transit village” with commercial and residential development similar to the Newport section of Jersey City. None of that has ever been built.


The 7 train to Secaucus seems like a half-baked idea by some real estate company trying to develop the swamp and brown fields surrounding the train station in the middle of nowhere.

If you were interested in building a more useful subway connection in N.J, one might want to build a line that crossed the Hudson north of the Lincoln Tunnel and ran down Kennedy Blvd. from North Bergen, through West New York, Weehawken, Union City, Jersey City and on to Bayonne. You could connect it with the PATH at Journal Square and possibly extend it into Staten Island. I don’t know if that’s physically possible to do because of the geology of the Palisades and already existing infrastructure, like I-495, but would be more useful in densely populated parts of Hudson County than at a train station in the swamp no one uses.

Matthew October 26, 2011 - 3:45 pm

This is ridiculous! The 7 is not the train to extend to NJ. It’s too narrow and too short. If any subway train is extended to NJ it should be one of the full length lettered trains.

I agree with the above comments that the $10 billion would be better spent on a full-length Second Avenue Subway with connections to the Bronx and a tie-in to the Fulton Street Subway in Brooklyn.

Al D October 26, 2011 - 4:44 pm

It is 1 of the more narrow trains, but it is 11 cars in length, and with its frequent service (minimal headways), it could do at least as good as PATH if not better.

Matthew October 26, 2011 - 5:20 pm

The 7 at eleven cars is still shorter than a full length lettered train (565 feet long vs. 600 feet long). So it is too small in both directions, width and length.

Another oft-proposed extension of the L would be the same problem. It is wider but even shorter than the 7 train (480 feet long vs. 565 feet long).

John October 26, 2011 - 9:03 pm

Like Al D. says, you’re looking at this the wrong way. The 7 train is one of the most frequent subway lines, and it will be the second line to be equipped with CBTC which will improve frequency even more. It also goes crosstown to the most popular destinations in Manhattan such as Time Square and Grand Central where it connects to just about every other subway line there is out there.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 4:48 pm

It’s narrow, but it’s also the one that happens to be getting to 11th avenue.

Chet October 26, 2011 - 3:57 pm

I agree, as well, with those who say the money, if ever found, is being wrongly spent.

Should the 7 train go to NJ? Sure, in a perfect world. The same could be said for doing work to make the “Second System” reality, or a subway to Staten Island. It’s all a matter of priority. In my mind, getting the SAS complete should be number one on that list. Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the T is just a four stop extension of the Q line.

Oh, one other thing, for future expansion, the T should go from Wall Street to a stop on Governor’s Island to Red Hook, and then express to Staten Island via a dual deck tunnel that would replace the Gowanus Expressway.

normative October 27, 2011 - 12:40 am

That is some good quality, creative thinking. That would be a dope line then.

Lawrence Velázquez October 26, 2011 - 4:14 pm

It’s also worth considering whether the narrow platforms at Times Square, Fifth Avenue, and Grand Central could handle a second rush hour load from/to New Jersey. If not, expanding those facilities would add significantly to the final sum. As is, Grand Central can barely cope with the Queens crowds.

John-2 October 26, 2011 - 4:37 pm

While Fifth Ave. and Times Square are more problematic, Grand Central on the 7 does have space for another platform exit on the east side of Lexington Ave., to funnel people away from the ramps and escalators connecting with the Grand Central 4/5/6/S complex — there’s a pretty long gap between the stairs up to there from platform level and the exit near Third Ave. on the far east end of the station.

jim October 26, 2011 - 4:42 pm

If there is to be another rapid transit Hudson crossing, the appropriate location in Jersey is Hoboken and it should connect to one of the lettered MTA lines, perhaps the N,R at Cortland St. to join the Q running up Second Ave.

It should be entirely paid for by PANYNJ. That’s their charter.

There really is no point running the 7 to Secaucus. There’s no there there.

Eric F. October 26, 2011 - 4:50 pm

“It should be entirely paid for by PANYNJ. That’s their charter.”

Unless they can set up a phenomenally profittable leomonade stand, I think this will have to be a deep dig into states’ general revenue.

jim October 26, 2011 - 6:19 pm

Not really.

Seriously. Hoboken terminal is right next to the river. Cortlandt St. is closer to the river than the 7 train ever gets. The river is fractionally narrower at that point than at the 40s. This would just be an underwater tunnel and a station at Hoboken. Compared to extending the 7, there’d be no tunnel under the park, no tunnel through the Palisades, no segment into Secaucus, no rebuilding Secaucus Junction station; compared to ARC there’d be no tunnel through the Palisades, no tunnel under the park, no tunnel across to 6th Ave., no massive cavern station: $2B to $3B tops. The Port Authority was prepared to come up with $3B for ARC. If New York and New Jersey want the New York subway extended into Jersey, the PA should be able to come up with the scratch.

Boris October 27, 2011 - 1:18 am

Then why not extend NJ Transit from Hoboken to NYC? The original discussion was about commuter rail anyway. Run it under Houston St. and then into Brooklyn and down to JFK. There’s plenty of abandoned right-of-way that could be reactivated there.

jim October 27, 2011 - 9:04 am

Hoboken terminal to Atlantic terminal is about four and a half miles. That’s a long tunnel which has to run under two rivers and through lower Manhattan. Hoboken terminal and Atlantic terminal would need at least some reconstruction to accommodate it and there would need to be a station in lower Manhattan (near the World Trade Center to get PA money?).

The Atlantic Branch is just double tracked and the LIRR trains are scheduled to take 20 minutes to run the 8 miles between Atlantic terminal and Jamaica. If NJT is to run through to Jamaica to connect to JFK there would need to be some upgrade of that branch.

Hard to see it coming in below $10B. Perhaps substantially above.

There was talk some time ago of LIRR running from JFK into lower Manhattan via a tunnel from Atlantic terminal, but the costs kept rising and the idea was abandoned. Hoboken would be even more ambitious.

Bolwerk October 26, 2011 - 5:32 pm

At the risk of preempting Alon’s usual battlecry, it’s a fine idea at sane prices. Why on Earth should this cost $10B? The acknowledged price of ARC’s theoretical tunnel to Grand Central was only $3B or so – say $4B with inflation. And those are already presumably inflated prices.

From what I can tell, this tunnel is to go west of the Palisades into some rather empty swampland to an underutilized train “junction” – and adds, what, two stations tops? One station at 41st St. and one at the new terminal?

Larry Littlefield October 26, 2011 - 6:11 pm

What new terminal? Just a loop, a single platform, and some ramps down to Secaucus Transfer. It would require a new yard and some additional rolling stock, but still — $10 billion?

Bottom line, the construction industry is worried about where its money will come from. From today’s Crain’s New York Business:

“All told, the publicly funded construction of everything from schools and transportation facilities to environmental projects has grown to more than 60% of the total. University and school projects accounted for about a quarter of all the key projects on the list. In addition, four of the top five companies on the list were working on World Trade Center-related projects.”

“But nothing lasts forever. Although the New York Building Congress is forecasting a stable level of work over the next two years, after that it is predicting a steep decline in public projects.”

“In 2013 numbers will fall off the cliff,” Mr. Anderson said. “Public work will decline more, and private work is not picking up slack.”

THAT is what is driving this. OK folks, how about a little discount to the massive run up in what you are charging?

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 8:37 am

Uh, Larry, that would still be a terminal, as in the new end to the line.

Caelestor October 26, 2011 - 6:15 pm

Why can’t anybody propose a reasonably priced Penn Station crossing? Heck, the North River Tunnels are only at capacity because NJT has to terminate there instead of GCT or continue onto Long Island (granted LIRR uses third-rail, but still there exists solutions to that). The only possible reason why you need new tunnels is perhaps their age or to implement NEC HSR when that happens.

Side Note: I was at Penn the other day, and the fact that passengers aren’t allowed to enter the platform until 10 minutes before departure time baffles me (congestion delayed the train 5 minutes, though I’ll confess that because of the delay I actually got on).

jim October 26, 2011 - 6:23 pm

The tunnels are at capacity peak in peak direction because NJT runs a lot of trains. That’s not fixable, but it can be worked around.

The tunnels are at capacity peak in counterpeak direction because NJT can’t store enough trains east of the Hudson and to clear the platforms has to send trains back into Jersey. That’s fixable.

JE October 26, 2011 - 7:04 pm

That’s a lot of mileage for only two tracks to operate, no? Living and working in DC, there is nothing more frustrating about Metro than the all-too-often one-tracking during breakdowns and weekend construction work. (The broken escalator epidemic is a close second.)

UESider October 26, 2011 - 8:08 pm

I really don’t see the economics of this idea…

Why don’t we reduce the debt load we already have crushing us, then focus on some projects that are desperately needed – like rebuilding Penn Sta into something akin to GCT rather than the dungeon it feels like today…

Increase our current service, clean up the trash and rebuild our existing infrastructure before it completely crumbles. There should be a law preventing new tunnels until rain above ground does not mean rain below ground

Sheet, guys!

Brian October 26, 2011 - 8:47 pm

Goddamn it, if they can’t maintain the 7 line stations here in Queens, where half of them are falling apart, how could they do so in NJ? Bloomie might be thinking in the long term, but he’s not thinking about the average commuter, the average immigrant who boards the train at Junction Blvd or 103rd St- they doesn’t care if the 7 line is proposed to be extended to NJ-hell no. All they care about is about having good trains, good service, and trains that are on time.. And sadly, that is what is lacking on the 7 line right now. You can do much better, sensible things then extend this line to NJ. This line is already one of the most overcrowded in the system. This problem will grow even worse if this plan is done, with all the crush of commuters potentially overloading the 7 line to take a direct line to TSQ, 5the Ave, GCT, and 42nd St-Midtown in general from NJ (Secaucus Junction more specifically). Revive the ARC, better maintain the system HERE in NYC, instead of throwing money at this.

John October 26, 2011 - 9:07 pm

No, because commuters from NJ would be traveling in what is now off-peak direction, so the extension will not be adding to the current overcrowding much at all. Keep in mind that the 7 line duplicates the 42 Street shuttle in Manhattan too, so the only people who will really be traveling in that direction would be the NJers.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 8:55 am

This isn’t really changed much by the addition of an extension to Secaucus, but Joe Korman brought up an interesting point about how Times Square capacity gets effectively cut by the inability to platform two trains when you extend the 7 toward Javits.

Alon Levy October 27, 2011 - 4:48 pm

The argument’s pretty bad – Queens-bound and Javits-bound traffic peak at different times.

However, I agree that the L should be extended, because that would instantly take care of its terminal capacity limit; thus people in both Brooklyn and Jersey would benefit. The problem is the extra transfer for 42d Street-bound passengers.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 10:51 pm

It’s not bad if the Javits area sees significant residential development; then at least GCT and TQ will see heavier weighted peak uses. GCT’s present conditions suggest it’s manageable, but it seems like a tremendous asspain given that Times Square is a pretty damn busy station.

Of course, since that was written, it’s looking less likely there will be significant residential development soon.

Brian October 26, 2011 - 9:35 pm

And when Hudson Yards fully develops- then what? Also, do you really think people will walk up the stairs through the mezzanine, all through the busiest subway station in NYC just to transfer to a shuttle? No they won’t. The extra passnegers will overcrowd TSQ, 5th & GCT, and they are overcrowded enough already. It won’t just be a few riders from NJ, it will be a stream of riders wanting to get to 42nd St/Midtown for work, and not just for work, but also just to go for NYC in general- food, shopping, entertainment-, and yet, with the amount of money that is being proposed to build this thing, you could much more practical things, as some people have suggested, like building out the rest of SAS with outer-borough connections, extending some of the other lines into areas that really do need service here in NYC, such as 2/5, or finish out the Archer Ave. Extension, or even build some, if not all of Triboro RX. There are much better things you can do with this money then to just waste it on a useless extension, that would better be served by a revival of ARC.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 8:44 am

I don’t see how this isn’t better than ARC. ARC brought people to a rather isolated deep station. A Secaucus 7 extension brings people to the biggest commuter destination in the city.

It’s not just how much money is spent, but it’s also who is spending it. If the costs are distributed reasonably, NYC and the MTA pay little.

Brian October 27, 2011 - 9:06 am

ARC actually involved NJT, increasing capacity for them in much larger terms then a puny extension of the 7 line to Seacucus could do. Isn’t Penn the biggest commuter destination in the city? What about the cost of maintenance? How much will NJ pitch in? You saw what they did with ARC, will they fund this at least? And what about the crushload of commuters? The 7 already struggles to handle it’s currently route+crowds already with IRT specs, it will almost certainty falter if has to go to Seacucus Junction and receive the load of commuters wanting to get to 42 St. And again, after Hudson Yards develops and people want access to the subway via the 7- then what? And the MTA, no matter how little, is also struggling trying to fund the Capital Program. Asking Little from them might be just too much. The same also applies to NYC’s fiscal situation.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 10:04 am

Penn is a commuter node, not a commuter destination. But if you mean the neighborhood is a major commuter destination, sure it is, but the GCT neighborhood is probably a much bigger commuter destination. And I think the capacity argument is a little misleading. In practice, the 7 with more standing room, shorter dwell times, and 20th* century fare collection has better throughput than a commuter rail line. I don’t really see how the 7 being extended west really causes crowding issues. If Ben’s 125,000/day number is correct, it’s a fraction of the crowd that is coming from Queens (whatever that is).

As for how to pay for it, who knows? I agree with you there, at least insofar as poison politics will make it difficult to come to an equitable arrangement. I think the idea has merits, but I sure didn’t say I think it’s likely to happen. Also, while ARC was ridiculous, I totally agree two more tunnels to Penn are called for – but they should be just that, not two more tunnels plus a huge new complex.

* as opposed to 19th!

Challenges and benefits of a Secaucus-bound 7 :: Second Ave. Sagas October 27, 2011 - 12:03 am

[…] over the lack of transit on the new Tappan Zee Bridge, Bloomberg seemingly us a bone with a show of support for the 7 plan. If anything, the timing has helped restart the debate over the practicality, feasibility and […]

Sergio October 27, 2011 - 1:26 am

The only thing that TRULY bugs me about this is that an MTA subway train is going out of the city. Why can’t they create a PATH line from Secaucus to Midtown to Long Island City. If they can do that instead of the 7, then I can forgive them for the rest of their stupidity.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 8:46 am

Uh, how is that better? PATH doesn’t go anywhere near Long Island City. The 7 is already right there.

The REAL stupidity is how PATH and NYCTA don’t honor each other’s fares and transfers.

Why the 7 to Secaucus Won’t Work | Pedestrian Observations October 28, 2011 - 5:07 am

[…] expressed support for the now $10-billion proposal to send the subway to Secaucus is generating buzz and speculation […]

Urban Omnibus » The Omnibus Roundup — No Bins, CityBench, Secaucus 7, Parking Reform, The Civilians on OWS and Urbanized at IFC October 28, 2011 - 5:36 pm

[…] Photo by Flickr user SpecialKRB | via secondavenuesagas.com […]

On the allure of Manhattan-centric transit growth :: Second Ave. Sagas November 1, 2011 - 1:00 am

[…] making noises about another Manhattan-centric subway project. Mayor Bloomberg, as we know, wants to build an extension of the 7 train to Secaucus. Doing so would funnel more workers from Hudson County, New Jersey, into Midtown via the Hudson […]

A Hoboken-based idea for the 7 extension :: Second Ave. Sagas December 7, 2011 - 12:22 am

[…] plans to send the 7 line to Secaucus. In October, we heard reports that Mayor Bloomberg will push to get the $10 billion extension off the ground before he leaves office in 2013. It would be his shining transit moment and could transform […]

Eye Sores and Eye Candy: The Impact of Zoning on NYC | MetroFocus | THIRTEEN January 3, 2012 - 6:28 am

[…] demolishing existing residential buildings. The 7 line extension was scaled back in 2007, but was altered to include a different extension into Hoboken by 2013. The first phase of Hudson Boulevard, a city park planned to shimmy between 33rd and 42nd […]

Urban Omnibus » The Omnibus Roundup — No Bins, CityBench, Secaucus 7, Parking Reform, The Civilians on OWS and Urbanized at IFC November 4, 2012 - 4:03 pm

[…] BENCHES! Weary pedestrians take note. This week, DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan introduced CityBench, a PlanNYC project to install 1,000 new benches on the sidewalks of New York City. The benches will strategically be located adjacent to major transportation nodes that mostly attract seniors and mobility impaired or physically disabled individuals. They also will enable social encounters across local communities and will bring people together in a collective effort to improve their own neighborhoods, as local residents can help determine the location of the benches simply by calling 311. Meanwhile, as part of their “Building of the Day” series, the folks at the Archtober blog reminded us of the Rogers Marvel-designed flood mitigation streetscape installations, already in place in certain locations around the city. In response to subway shutdowns caused by intense storms back in 2007, the MTA and the DOT were charged with finding a way to prevent similar service interruptions in the future. The benches serve a utilitarian double function as they manage overflow depths and provide outdoor seating for pedestrians. Photo by Flickr user SpecialKRB | via secondavenuesagas.com […]

Arturo Ortega Olive September 8, 2016 - 10:46 am

Me encantó tu página: http://bkabak.wpengine.com/201.....-secaucus/. Sin duda pienso que el futuro de los libros son aquellos, no crees?


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