Home 7 Line Extension Challenges and benefits of a Secaucus-bound 7

Challenges and benefits of a Secaucus-bound 7

by Benjamin Kabak

Could the future route of the 7 train take it across the Hudson River? (Via The Wall Street Journal)

By dropping word of his support for a Secaucus-bound 7 train this week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg reminded us once again of his ability to draw a spotlight. With New York and New Jersey transit advocates largely despairing 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 intentions behind the plan.

On Wednesday, after The Post’s story made the rounds, the Mayor faced the New York press corps and went on the record with some support for a trans-Hudson rail crossing. “We want better transportation from here to all the markets, all of the places that people live that want to come into this city to work and to shop and have their entertainment,” he said. “This is something where the economics seem to make some sense. The subway extension is on budget, on time pretty much, coming down the West Side, and you could probably continue it over. There are some economic arguments that it would be justified and that we could work with New Jersey and the federal government and the state government here to get some money to do it.”

For now, we don’t know what the Parsons Brinckerhoff report will say. It’s still only a preliminary report and only those in the city government have seen it. When it’s released, we’ll have a better sense of the road ahead. Right now, though, if Bloomberg is serious about getting such an ambitious plan off the ground, he’ll have to work fast to secure funds for an environmental impact study and the project itself. He has 26 months.

Already, we’re seeing some of the benefits and challenges this project face come into view. Over at WNYC, Andrea Bernstein gathered some info. For starters, the city believes it could put together a broad coalition of funding partners that would include the city and state, New Jersey, the Port Authority and the MTA. That is, apparently, news to those entities.

The MTA is facing a set of very familiar problems. With Joe Lhota coming in, the new CEO and Chairman has a directive from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to cut costs and save money. The current capital plan has no leeway for funding such a project, and the MTA would rather see through the Second Ave. Subway before it looks to New Jersey. So far, MTA officials have tried to distance themselves from this idea. Noting that the MTA has no cash, a spokesman told Metro, “We’re focusing on the three capital projects we have now.” Transit officials said yesterday they would have no comment until the engineering study is released.

Beyond that significant obstacle, the city and PB are reportedly bullish on the popularity of such an extension. Initial estimates say the 7 extension would draw around 125,000 riders per day, thus significantly increasing crowding along the 7 line throughout Midtown Manhattan. Somehow, the IRT Flushing line stations would have to handle increasingly large crowds. In a similar vein, though, the ridership estimates show how this project would be a draw for the real estate business. As Alon Levy noted via Twitter, sending the subway through Hoboken and to Secaucus would be “a bonanza for developers.” Construction companies and landowners on both sides of the Hudson — and especially those at Hudson Yards — would be thrilled. A subway that passes under Hudson Yards from both New Jersey and the rest of New York would vastly increase the area’s popularity.

Still, despite this seemingly rosy outlook, the challenges are immense. Early reports say it could cost less than ARC as the tunneling requires no new Manhattan terminal. Rather, the MTA would simply start digging west from the tail tracks of the 7 line extension near 26th and 11th Ave. Some estimates, however, peg the cost at as much as $10 billion. With federal ARC dollars long since disbursed, any funding from DC would have originate from a new effort to drive transit dollars to the region, and this 7 line extension would just be one more megaproject competing for bucks.

Furthermore, what of the rolling stock and IRT-sized subway cars? Even though the 7 comes equipped with 11-car sets, capacity is limited by width. In an ideal world, it might make more sense to send a spur off the 8th Ave. line with its spacious IND cars to New Jersey. Bu we live in a world of practical realism. With a development at Hudson Yards spurring the discussion, the Mayor will focus only on the 7 line. Its tail tracks bring it close to New Jersey, and mighty political forces are lining up behind it.

Yet, for all of this talk of support from Bloomberg, a reticent and reluctant MTA and a project that doesn’t even have a public scoping document yet, we’re likely jumping the gun. Maybe the Mayor can deliver billions of dollars and a firm joint commitment to this project while somehow drawing a cost-conscious MTA on board. Maybe he can placate constituents throughout the five boroughs who would rather spend transit dollars on improving interborough rather than interstate access. Maybe he just won’t care about the politics because he’s a lame duck and wants a legacy. It wouldn’t be the first time Bloomberg has pushed through something he wants more than anyone else.

For now, enjoy the proverbial ride. This project has had more legs than it ever should have, and maybe one day the next stop on a Secaucus-bound 7 line will be across the river in New Jersey.

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pkyc0 October 27, 2011 - 12:18 am

i’ve always wondered why doesn’t the government fund these project by selling air rights?

Boris October 27, 2011 - 12:46 am

or tax increment financing. Or any other myriad ways governments around the world finance projects like this. New York politicians have neither knowledge of other places nor imagination to invent something on their own.

Christopher October 27, 2011 - 8:40 pm

Thanks for saying that. You know? There’s nothing wrong with transportation helping development. New roads do this, trains did that, and subways as well. I always that argument suspect.

But as you say there are ways to finance this so it at least appears a little more equitable. DC is builing an extension to Dulles that is partially TIF (or similar) funded. They built an infill station with similar funding.

Phil October 27, 2011 - 1:15 am

It would be more beneficial to run the 7 down 11th and turn down 14th and meet up with the A/C/E/L, making the Meatpacking District and West Chelsea more accessible by subway. Further, this would be the first instance of the subway going outside of the city; how would funding be determined? How much would New Jersey contribute to the MTA? Further, what’s the benefit since it’s not a one-seat commute for riders who would have received additional service via ARC? Just redo ARC but integrate it back into Penn Station, not with a new terminal.

al October 27, 2011 - 1:33 am

Or how about running the 7 back east to Queens under 23rd st or 34/33rd st. $10 billion could build an entire new section along the LIE corridor, LIRR Montauk Branch, Port Washington Branch, or Main Line.

Heck $10 billion might be enough to modify the tunnels to run B division rolling stock on the Flushing Line.

Russell October 27, 2011 - 8:42 am

I’d run the 7 under 23rd St towards Brooklyn. I’d run the L up 11th Ave., and then east under 34th St., and then along the LIE corridor.

ajedrez October 27, 2011 - 10:56 am

If the money isn’t used for a tunnel connecting Hudson County to Manhattan, it will go back to the federal government. It won’t go towards another project in NYC.

Russell October 28, 2011 - 9:42 am

If an extension of the 7 train is the only option, then it might be better to send the money back. Once this is up and running, how will government subsidies from two state governments be worked out? I see future legal battles over the 7 train if it goes to New Jersey.

Bolwerk October 30, 2011 - 4:09 pm

Accountants can work it out. It’s not much of an operational concern. No matter what, it’s cheaper operationally) than using the commuter rails or a road capacity option for both New Jersey and New York.

Alex C October 27, 2011 - 10:50 pm

An L going down the Long Island Expressway should seriously be studied eventually. While building in Manhattan would be rough, the Queens portion would be much easier with a BART/WMATA-like highway median subway. The only issue is then actually extending the stations in Brooklyn and Manhattan to platform 600-foot trains.

Bolwerk October 30, 2011 - 4:10 pm

In other words, use transit to subsidize driving? It sounds like a bad idea, and it’s had mixed results at best where it’s been tried.

Transit should go where people live.

Douglas John Bowen October 27, 2011 - 9:04 am

Benefits come to a different sector of the riding public, most dramatically Bergen County denizens, which at the moment make up a huge plurality of bus riders using the Lincoln Tunnel XBL.

A question of funding contributions is a valid concern, but that also argues in favor of a No. 7 extension. Too many New Yorkers are reflexively bemoaning the lack of funding for any project, then they launch a wish list of other (equally worthy and within the boroughs, ’tis true) projects that would require money from fewer sources (i.e., not New Jersey). Butter one’s bread or don’t, but let’s keep consistent with the objections to this project, please.

Amusing, once again, to see folks on both sides of the Hudson Ocean bewail the impervious border that is New York and New Jersey. But light rail spans the Mississippi in the St. Louis metro area; zounds! It can be done!

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 9:25 am

Think about the international examples. The city of Strasbourg, in France, is developing its light rail system to cross over the Rhine into Germany. IIRC, a commuter line in Zittau, Germany, crosses Poland to get to the Czech Republic; a commute to work requires travel in three countries.

Adirondacker12800 October 27, 2011 - 3:05 pm

The MBTA operates in two states. The MTA operates in three states, though they contract west of Hudson rail service to NJTransit. NJ Transit operates in three states. Septa operates in three states. The WMATA operates in two states and the District of Columbia. MARC operates in Maryland and DC. NICTD operates in two states.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 9:14 am

ARC was only a one-seat ride to Penn. It wasn’t a one-seat ride to every destination in Midtown. Getting to 42nd Street and Third Avenue from NJ by rail is a three-seat ride under that scenario: commuter rail, transfer to A/C/E/1/2/3, and then take the 7 or Times Square Shuttle east to GCT.

Under the 7 to Secaucus proposal, it’s at least a two-seat ride: commuter rail to the 7, get off at GCT.

AlexB October 27, 2011 - 1:06 pm

It may be a 3 seat ride from NJ to East Midtown, but it’s still faster and fewer stops than taking the 7 from Secaucus. In other words, if you can get a one seat ride to Penn, you aren’t going to catch the 7 at Secaucus. Also, this problem of access to East Midtown should be solved by connecting GCT and Penn, as in Alt G of the ARC alternatives, not a subway extensions. A subway extensions would be great, but this is not the right way to do it.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 2:21 pm

Even if it optimistically takes 10m from Secaucus to Penn, the walk to the subway is long, and then there is another long transfer. A well-executed Flushing Line extension could at the very least match that in speed and exceed it in comfort and capacity, and it cuts the number of transfers at least down to one.

I agree the NJ-to-GCT tunnel makes a lot of sense. But I don’t think the higher throughput and lower operating costs of the subway, given our options, can be ignored.

Eric F. October 27, 2011 - 9:22 am

I bet they’d do it like the airtrain, with a special souped up charge to use it, likely akin to whatever the charge is now to take NJT from Secaucus to Penn.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 9:38 am

Or running the L to meet at Hudson Yards. It would solve the 8th Ave issues.

Sam October 27, 2011 - 12:27 pm

Or at least run the 7 down to 14th (with stations at 10th Ave. and 23rd St.) before diverting it west to New Jersey. Maybe the L could even be extended to meet it there.

pea-jay October 27, 2011 - 2:49 am

If this project is going to result in the spending of Port Authority dollars and open new stops across the Hudson open to NYC subway users, why cant the PATH system be integrated into the rest of the fare card system as well? I know I would venture west of the Hudson much more if there was a single fare structure between PATH and the MTA

As for leaving a legacy, what’s the chance of Bloomie writing a check to cover some of this? $1B would be a good starting point…we’d certainly remember him for that.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 2:22 pm

Good question. The two people who maybe understood that, Ward and Walder, are gone now.

Walter October 27, 2011 - 4:08 am

There are just too many questions with this thing, and it’s just not the cost. Will it just go to Secaucus or might it have a stop in Hoboken? Any transfer to the HBLR? Why not just bring it to Newark? Or, why not build on both ends, building out to Newark Airport and a branch to LaGuardia?

It’s not just that the money spent on this could be used everywhere else in the city, but that there are legitimate imaginative scenarios for a subway extension to New Jersey that will never be proposed because Bloomberg wants this done fast. Just add it to the myriad of missed opportunities characterize the region’s transportation system.

Anon256 October 27, 2011 - 5:16 am

There’s no way the environmental and other preparatory paperwork will be done for this before Bloomberg’s out of office. By then, whoever is next won’t care, and so this proposal will end up in the dustbin along with all the other poorly-though-out mayoral pet projects (N to LaGuardia, JFK rail link, etc).

BrooklynBus October 27, 2011 - 11:48 am

You don’t know what political deals will be made before he gets out of office. All he needs is for the project to get enough of an impetus to get it off the ground. It isn’t necessary for him to be in office when construction starts. The key is how much opposition will there be against the project. If the federal money involved cannot be used for anything else, that’s a good start. Use it or lose it is very powerful. I wouldn’t rule it out so fast as improbable.

Anon256 October 27, 2011 - 6:40 pm

Federal money can’t be awarded until the environmental paperwork is done, and any federal money not yet awarded is subject to the whim of an increasingly capricious Congress. Even with a credible use-it-or-lose-it commitment, it’s a lot easier to kill these projects than to keep them going; consider congestion pricing, or ARC.

Boris October 27, 2011 - 6:44 pm

Why not avoid environmental paperwork altogether through a categorical exclusion, like what was done with so many stimulus highway projects? It seems only fair.

Chris October 27, 2011 - 6:56 am

If Jersey wants more Hudson River rail crossings, let them extend the PATH system and connect with the #7 line on the West Side. New York’s limited funding for mass transit should go towards extending East Side transit – by building the Southern parts of the Second Avenue line to Hanover Square. (I have no skin in this game – I arrive in NYC at Grand Central, and take the shuttle to the Seventh Avenue line before going downtown.)

Other needed connections would be a subway line extension to LGA (yeah, we know the criticisms of this), pushing the 7, E or F lines into Eastern Queens, a Staten Island tunnel to allow SIRT to connect with the subway (this probably can’t be justified on its own), and maybe a branch off the #6 line to Throggs Neck…. There are so many ways transit dollars can be spent in NYC, we shouldn’t be pushing a project for the greater glory of Mayor Mike….

Douglas John Bowen October 27, 2011 - 9:33 am

We Jerseyans tried this with the downtown PATH/Lex proposal, which would have capitalized on the (relative) reduction in tunneling due to the open wound in the neighborhood. The tunnel and equipment specs for the IRT East Side and PATH line up surprisingly well. But the political weight was too much to move too quickly, perhaps understandable given the post 9/11 angst. But: We tried.

Not sure a similar connection to the No. 7 would be any easier.

Far be it for this writer to exonerate New Jersey from its regional responsibilties, but as diplomatically as one can: The mayor of NEW YORK is proposing this. It’s not any sort of nefarious Jersey plot, so it’s not (at least at the outset) any “greater glory” for us Jersey folk.

Adirondacker12800 October 27, 2011 - 3:08 pm

That and the annoying little problem with the Lexington Ave line being at capacity.

Russell October 28, 2011 - 9:46 am

Yeah, connecting PATH to the the Lex was a non-starter for that exact reason.

Russell October 28, 2011 - 9:48 am

Any PATH extension in Manhattan needs dedicated tunnels. The existing IRT lines are at, or close to capacity.

Alon Levy October 29, 2011 - 1:28 am

First, the IRT lines are at capacity in the opposite direction, i.e. southbound from the UES. By the time the trains reach Lower Manhattan, they’re effectively reverse-peak.

Second, the 6 terminates in City Hall, so it wouldn’t burden any existing lines to connect the Lower Manhattan PATH to it.

Streetsblog New York City » Today’s Headlines October 27, 2011 - 8:49 am

[…] Chris Christie Touts 7 Line Extension; No Funding in Sight (WNYC, Post, 2nd Ave Sagas) […]

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 9:08 am

[W]hat of the rolling stock and IRT-sized subway cars? Even though the 7 comes equipped with 11-car sets, capacity is limited by width. In an ideal world, it might make more sense to send a spur off the 8th Ave. line with its spacious IND cars to New Jersey.

Is this really a problem? 125,000 more riders/day in that direction hardly holds a torch to the, what, 700,000 who use the line from Queens? The important feature of the 7, which other alternatives don’t provide, is it brings people to the parts of Midtown that most commuters are heading to. That’s why the Canarsie and the Eighth Ave. lines aren’t especially good options.

Bgriff October 27, 2011 - 9:29 am

And moreover, the crowding shouldn’t be an issue–the people coming from New Jersey and heading to midtown Manhattan will be completely segregated from the people coming from Queens and heading to midtown Manhattan, other than that there may be more people standing on the Manhattan platforms waiting for a train during the afternoon rush.

Given the very high frequency of service on the 7, one potential issue is that a poorly designed new terminal (a la Jamaica on the E) could force capacity cuts for the entire line. But if that’s going to happen, it would already be a problem for the new west side terminal.

Jeff October 27, 2011 - 11:01 am

That’s going to be the biggest issue – the platforms on 42 St are already too narrow to support all the people waiting for trains, especially when there’s a delay. Additional NJers waiting on those platforms might create potentially dangerous situations.

Eric F. October 27, 2011 - 9:39 am

700,000 people in Queens use the 7? No way. That means about 40+% of the entire population is riding one train line. That can’t be right.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 10:00 am

Well, if that’s the right number, probably closer to 350,000 because they’re riding twice usually. Plus I’m sure a good portion of its ridership is between GCT and Times Square.

I pulled the # off the top of my head, so maybe I’m overstating it. I can’t find an exact figure in a cursory Google search, but it’s got to be in the mid six figures, in any case. I do know the four-track Lex lines have over a million daily rides, so at least one of those three services probably has ridership well over 333,000. If you believe Wikipedia, up those numbers to 1.3 million daily Lex riders and at least one of those services having ridership over the average 433,000 riders per service designation. Yet, I think the 7 is the single busiest service designation, so logically it wouldn’t be inconceivable for the 7 to push 500k/day in its present service configuration – still a lot more than would come from NJ, in any case.

Eric F. October 27, 2011 - 11:15 am

That’s a ton. I do recall that the 7 out of Queens would clear out a bit at Queens Plaza. Perhaps suprisingly, it was more crowded before QP than in the stub Queens part and Manhattan section after. That could have changed, or may change in the future with the extension and related development and yuppie developments in L.I.C.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 2:12 pm

All true. It seems, at least, the 7 manages pretty good seat turnover. Much better than the L, which is heavily weighted towards Manhattan-bound travel.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 1:43 pm

Most of the 7’s riders are GCT and east. A w/b train really empties out at GCT. And the transfers at Queensboro Plaza and Jackson Heights are quite busy too.

Anon256 October 27, 2011 - 6:48 pm

A total of 294821 riders entered the system at one of the 7’s Queens stations on an average weekday in 2010. Of course, some people entering at Queensboro Plaza and Jackson Heights presumably did not set foot on the 7; also there is no way to know how many people transferred between the 7 and other lines.

Bolwerk October 28, 2011 - 10:12 am

Yeah, I always wondered how they got those figures for the Lex, honestly. But they’ve been bandied about for years.

pea-jay October 27, 2011 - 10:05 am

it might be the ride count and not discrete passenger count. A typical passenger will ride a line twice, going to and from their destination.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 10:10 am

That’s what I took it to be, but Ben doesn’t make that clear. But even if it’s 125,000 riders in each direction per day, it’s still a fraction of 250,000+ that must use the Flushing line in each direction now.

Larry Littlefield October 27, 2011 - 10:08 am

Per NYMTC, on an average fall business day 90,000 people entered Manhattn via the Steinway tunnel.

Perhaps the 125,000 is a two-way count. In any event, let NJ pay, not NYC, and let it cost $4 billion not $10 billion.

This is something the building industry wants, because they will have bankrputed the MTA by 2013 and they will run out of work. There was an article on Crains about that yesterday. So damn it, cut a deal with Christie for a discount.

Bolwerk October 27, 2011 - 10:15 am

That little? That sounds awfully low. Of course, a lot of people seem to catch the 7 at Queensboro Plaza, so how many end up passing through the Steinway Tunnel might not be a good indicator of the 7’s peak load points.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 1:46 pm

More than Queens residents ride the 7.

Alon Levy October 28, 2011 - 1:15 am

In case anyone cares, 350,000 people lived in Queens and worked in Manhattan in 2000. Those can be assumed to have overwhelmingly ridden the subway.

Douglas John Bowen October 27, 2011 - 10:01 am

Concur with Bolwork; this is a semi-manufactured problem (some would call is a “specious” one) that can be addressed, in part, by frequency, certainly for most of a given day, even if peak-hour rush crowds are a legitimate problem/concern.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 9:35 am

The L train is the best candidate from a capacity perspective because it will soon be able to run 20 tph and would no longer be burdened by lack of capacity at 8th Ave and the it already points to NJ. Add an exit at 9th Ave. Plus the trains are wider (albeit at 8 cars/train), but since it doesn’t connect Hudson Yards, it won’t happen.

The study of many potential rail corridors would yield the same numbers. The L mentioned above would connect Union Sq and Williamsburg directly to NJ. The Utica Ave subway would see similar numbers and a Queens extension of most any line would be the same.

There should be 3 tracks for the 7 with the same peak express service pattern. The local can make 2 stops at Kennedy Blvd-Bergenline and HBLR while the express can run directly to 11 Ave.

And how about the speed restrictions? Would they be removed from the 7 to permit faster speeds out to “The Swamp” (actually a marsh)?

John-2 October 27, 2011 - 10:39 am

To get the capacity advantage with the L train over the 7, the MTA would have to lengthen the platforms on every L train stop from Eighth Ave. to Rockaway Parkway to handle 600 foot trains. While this would make the folks in Williamsburg hipster land happy, bringing the line in from New Jersey and across 14th Street wouldn’t have the advantages bringing it in and across 42nd Street does, because the business destinations aren’t there (and for Hoboken-bound NJT riders, PATH already serves 14th St. You’d just be swapping exiting at Hoboken Terminal for the 33rd St. train for exiting at Secaucus Junction for the L). The 7 is the more logical choice because it goes to where more people want to go with a single-seat subway ride, after transferring from trains or buses on the New Jersey side of the river.

The main question to any 7 extension is going to be how to divvy up the costs, based on the benefits each governmental entity expects to receive. The ARC plan, with its Batcave terminal and no option of eastward extension, got little backing financially from New York because it would have provided little benefit to its residents, and the station would have made land and platformed in a fully developed commercial area. A 7 extension provides more benefits for people in New York, and the real estate around Hudson Yards, but the prime beneficiary is still going to be New Jersey. Any interlocal agreements on the project, minus whatever federal funds both states can get, needs to take that into account when deciding who pays what, and how the line would look once it reaches New Jersey (express to Secaucus, or stops in-between on the north side of Hoboken).

Larry Littlefield October 27, 2011 - 9:35 am

First of all, Giuliani slashed NYC support to the MTA in the early 1990s recession (while Pataki did so for the state) and Bloomberg never restored it. And when the MTA said the city should contribute to the Second Avenue Subway, that was met with silence.

“Initial estimates say the 7 extension would draw around 125,000 riders per day, thus significantly increasing crowding along the 7 line throughout Midtown Manhattan.”

Currently 74,000 people take NJT trains into Manhattan. Clearly the idea is for more of the city’s middle class to move out.

“I’ve always wondered why doesn’t the government fund these project by selling air rights? or tax increment financing.”

All the air rights and tax increments for the Hudson Yards area have already been encumbered to pay for the EXISTING extension. All of them. There is none left! The money would come out of other transit spending.

Douglas John Bowen October 27, 2011 - 12:41 pm

Not clear at all to this Jersey resident that a No. 7 line is *designed” to accelerate middle-class flight from the boroughs … especially since, across the Hudson Ocean, there’s a discernable inbound or counter-flow taking place (subtle, but it’s there). But let’s grant that the assumption is in fact correct or viable. What fills the vacuum? Lower-income folks? Higher-income folks? Based on what factors?

Meanwhile, to reiterate a Jersey point of view on this: Part of the idea is to give inbound Bergen County and/or Jersey workers (and other riders) currently not on the train, but instead on the bus or even in an automobile, a rail option.

John-2 analysis above is pretty well thought out and (for the size of the entry) pretty comprehensive, as well.

AlexB October 27, 2011 - 1:13 pm

Accelerate middle class flight from the boroughs? What decade are you living in? Suburban flight is not the cheap option it once was. Besides, anything that can lower the demand for NYC apartments, and therefor rent, is a good thing in this city.

Stu Sutcliffe October 27, 2011 - 9:36 am

I wonder when people in Northeast, Eastern and Southeast Queens are going to start complaining.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 9:54 am

Building the line is 1 thing, but who is going to pay for the extra subway cars needed for this? Plus, 6 & 7 are going swap cars at some point.

SEAN October 27, 2011 - 10:11 am

I recently road NJT’s 129 route to Secaucus Junction & it’s rediculous. The route circles around Secaucus by passing Harmon Cove Towers twice before reaching the train station.

The 7 extention would do a few things not mentioned…
1. A more direct route through Secaucus wich bus lines 2, 78, 85 & 129/ 329 don’t currently offer.
2. A chance for Secaucus to turn itself into an enormous transit village by redeveloping many industrial properties & perhaps have a 7 stop near them.
3. A reimagined Secaucus train station. The current structure is fine, but with some creative development you could bring in jobs & maybe just maybe get the HBLR line extended all the way to the Medowlands as in visioned a few years ago.

J B October 27, 2011 - 11:02 am

Bloomberg’s eagerness to build this smells fishy to me. Subway extensions should be built on the basis of benefiting the maximum number of people per dollar spent, not because the mayor falls in love with the idea. Why the 7 to Secaucus and not any one of the other possible projects- Staten Island’s North Shore Line, Triboro RX, Nostrand or Utica Avenue extensions… the list goes on and on. Oh, and how about finishing the 2nd Avenue line we’ve been waiting for for seventy years?

Jeff October 27, 2011 - 11:26 am

Its not “fishy”. Bloomberg’s intent on this is clear – improve transportation, and create opportunities for economic growth in a large scale. Basically kill two birds with one stone.

Its clear that he only intervene with MTA affairs when there is a key benefit to the city coffers – in this case it is the same as the first 7 train extension, which is the development of the Far West Side. Access to NJ would obviously make this new development far more attractive to real estate developers and companies looking for space.

Eric F. October 27, 2011 - 1:23 pm

It’s “fishy”? Yeah, it’s probably a convoluted, highy unethical and illegal plot to enable Bloomberg to become a billionaire. See if you can spot the flaw there.

Al D October 27, 2011 - 1:55 pm

The ‘fishy’ part you refer to is his single-mindedness when it comes to developing the far west side. First it was a Jet’s stadium. That went away and now its the huge development he’s pushed for there. So if you add another direction of travel to and through Hudson Yards, the potential exists for more foot traffic and greater commerical and residential interest. That’s why he’s buying them (the developers) a subway extension with no concern whatsoever for adding a stop at 10 Ave/41 St. And now he wants the feds, NJ, PANYNJ and anybody else to help foot the bill by doing the same from the other direction.

Chris October 27, 2011 - 3:57 pm

I don’t really think its about the far west side in particular… that’s just one of the few places left in the lower half of Manhattan where massive development would be possible. If the any of those other projects included plans for monumental new construction, it would probably be the focus of more funding. Compare the 7 extension with the SAS: Hudson Yards is set with tens of millions of square feet in new office space to greet the subway. Locals at 86th and 2nd can barely be persuaded to allow construction of the subway entrance itself, so it’s safe to say new 80-story towers are off the table.

J B October 28, 2011 - 9:03 am

Yeah, I think I can spot the flaw- there are a lot of unethical things politicians can do that don’t involve making money. Following your logic, all we need to do is vote rich people into office and corruption will never be a problem again.

Nathanael November 11, 2011 - 4:40 pm

To take this comment seriously, it has been documented that one often gets better results from a House of Lords type operation than from a House of Commons type operation, because fairly often the idle rich have no personal stake, are not pandering to anyone, and are perfectly willing to do what is best for everyone.

The problem comes when they DO have a personal stake, or a personal bias. Which is frequent, and often regarding matters absolutely critical to the entire population of the country. So it doesn’t really work.

But the worst of both worlds seems to come from corrupt semi-representative systems. We’d probably be better off if we replaced the undemocratic US Senate with a House of Billionaires, in which all the billionaires of the country were personally seated (good behavior only comes if they’re there personally, not ever if they send representatives). Then they might stop bothering to steal our elected offices. 😛

J B October 28, 2011 - 9:06 am

I’m not convinced the first 7 extension will benefit the city coffers, given its cost and the collapse of the real estate market, and I’m even less convinced this extension will either.

R2 October 27, 2011 - 11:23 am

Exactly, the current extension has already been bonded.

Now, if the developers want to kick in, I wouldn’t stay no but good luck on that. NJ could attempt a similar tax increment financing scheme on the Secaucus side. Of course, developing too much on marshlands…yeah not sure about that. I’d presume a stop near the light rail with more development there too but still too early to talk about alignment where same scheme can be tried.

Question is: how do we sucker the PA into kicking in $$$ here? I imagine this project would steal bus traffic going into the XBL/Lincoln Tunnel thus leaving more room for private and commercial vehicles which might be more profitable to PA than the buses. I’m not sure of the arrangement between NJ Transit and PA on this so I hope someone can clarify this.

I imagine NYCT floating revenue bonds on the projected ridership. And the Jersey stations would have to charge extra on top of base fare (soften the blow by emphasizing free transfers to rest of subway, duh) but beyond that, good luck.

Wouldn’t it be nice if NY State just nixed the Tappan Zee and get the Fed $ to this? Of course, that still leaves the question of what to do w/ the TZ. It ain’t falling apart but maintenance isn’t getting any cheaper. Ugh….why doesn’t the construction industry agree to a haircut?

Mike October 27, 2011 - 12:55 pm

Sure hope they build a stop at Union City. That ridge is dying for good transit to Manhattan; it’s right across the river, but has no good access.

William M October 27, 2011 - 11:05 pm

Union City is too far north. The 7 extension to NJ would only serve Hoboken and Secaucus.

UESider October 27, 2011 - 4:06 pm

And what happens when ridership is lower than forecast and too low to justify NJ’s share of the cost? NJ stops paying and we’re stuck with either a useless tunnel, trains that have to run an extra 20 mins in each direction and other unforeseen problems.

If 90k people come in from NJ via NJT, how can they possibly forecast 125k on a new rail? Some riders will switch from NJT, some will switch from buses, so question is how many NET NEW riders will there be to hold up the cost?

I don’t see the revenues doing it, just a few fat cats getting a new pad in NJ with a sweet ride on a not crowded train coming direct to midtown.

Agree that it doesn’t make sense to be so important to Bloomy given the current state of the MTA unless he has developer and construction friends making bank off the deal or hedge fund buddies looking for a subsidized new commute on a personal train

jim October 27, 2011 - 4:13 pm

Streetsblog: No Funding in Sight.

That’s the truth. Christie may praise the 7 extension, but he isn’t going to contribute to funding it. He has no money. He’s balanced the next few years by cancelling ARC and pushing some costs off onto the Port Authority, but after that there’s a black hole. MTA is worse than broke. New York has no money. The Port Authority got squeezed by the governors into picking up near-term costs the states should have covered and then they cut its toll increases. It has no spare money. It’s a fair bet that FTA isn’t going to pay for anything with New Jersey in its name, not after the ARC mess. Indeed Christie’s endorsement of the 7 extension may have been the hug of death.

Donald October 27, 2011 - 5:20 pm

NJ Transit would never allow for the 7 train to go to NJ. How many people would stil ride NJ Transit when they can ride the 7 for a fraction of the price?

Mike G October 27, 2011 - 7:34 pm

when the MTA built the Archer Ave extension, how many people get off the LIRR at Jamaica and then take the E to 34th street? The $2.25 subway fare is cheaper than the LIRR Zone 3 to Zone fare, I would imagine those numbers must be available somewhere

SEAN October 27, 2011 - 9:19 pm

Hell that’s what I do when I go to the island. It’s easier to catch a train in Jamaica anyway.

ajedrez October 29, 2011 - 3:17 am

If you’re just traveling from NYP to Jamaica, then the subway is obviously cheaper, but if you’re coming from all the way out in LI, it is barely more expensive to stay on the train, and it’s actually cheaper to stay on the train if you have a monthly pass.

Here’s a fare table: http://mta.info/lirr/about/Tic.....RFares.pdf

For instance Zone 1-7 pass costs $254, whereas a Zone 3-7 pass costs $193. That means that for an extra $63, you don’t have to transfer or pay the subway fare (which is around $90 per month if you work 22 weekdays, unless you use the unlimited at $104)

Alon Levy October 28, 2011 - 5:09 am

The main challenge is that a regional rail-to-urban transit transfer, and one that’s neither timed nor fare-integrated at that, is very inconvenient for passengers. Go to my post on the subject, which barely even mentions construction costs (thanks, Bolwerk) but cites literature on transfer penalties. The subway-to-subway transfer you’re used to doesn’t port well to the situation of the 7 to Secaucus, or for that matter Hoboken and Secaucus today.

Today’s Headlines | Body Local October 28, 2011 - 12:37 pm

[…] Chris Christie Touts 7 Line Extension; No Funding in Sight (WNYC, Post, 2nd Ave Sagas) […]

Anon256 October 28, 2011 - 2:43 pm

While we’re in the fantasy map department, how about an aerial cableway from Lincoln Harbor or Port Imperial to the 7 station at 34th and 11th? In combination with the HBLR extension to Tenafly, could take significant pressure off the Lincoln Tunnel. South American metrocable systems reportedly have a capacity of about 4000 per hour per direction, so you’d need several cables in parallel (with shared structures) to have enough capacity to make a dent in tunnel/rail crowding, but it might still be the cheapest way to provide new service across the Hudson.

SpendmoreWastemore October 28, 2011 - 6:07 pm

Funny how no one questions where ten billion $ goes.

One billion is a thousand million. One million represents twenty thousand hours at $50/hr, or over thirty thousand hours at wage/benefit bundles tons of unemployed people would fight over.

ONE of those billions represents a thousand people working thirty thousand hours each, or about 17 years.

How do you spend ten billion to bore a hole and lay thin ribbons of steel through it? Consider that you need 7 people to operate a TBM… in Spain). NYC uses 25. Thanks, union rules agreed to by corrupt management. How much goes to Tony Soprano (the real version, duh), how much to somebody’s cousin, how much to said cousin’s stupidity, and how much for someone to push buttons in an elevator?

Ten billyun. That’s over 1000 for every warm body in NYC and about 2000 for every taxpayer. Pay up, sucker!

Bob Schwartz November 18, 2011 - 9:10 am

But 7 to Secaucus won’t reduce train congestion in the tunnels to Penn Station, which is the key problem! It is no substitute for ARC or what ARC could have been.

Yes, some AM commuters would get off at Secaucus to take the 7, but the only way there would be less congestion in the tunnels would be if some NJT trains turned around at Secaucus; that’s very unlikely.

Why the 7 to Secaucus Won’t Work | Pedestrian Observations December 7, 2011 - 9:27 pm

[…] proposal to send the subway to Secaucus is generating buzz and speculation about the ability to secure funds. Missing from this discussion is any concern for whether more people would actually transfer at […]


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