Home 7 Line Extension A Hoboken-based idea for the 7 extension

A Hoboken-based idea for the 7 extension

by Benjamin Kabak

Should the 7 line head to Hoboken instead of Secaucus? (Map via The Wall Street Journal)

It’s been a few months since we’ve heard much about the city’s nascent 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 cross-Hudson commuting.

But what if sending the train to Secaucus is only half of a good idea? Maybe the 7 should cross the Hudson, but maybe it should have a different destination. Last November, we heard rumblings of this thought as the region’s planners offered their opinions on the Secaucus extension. At the time, former Transit planner Bob Previdi suggested sending the subway to Newark Airport or even Hoboken, a major hub for New Jersey Transit service that is even closer than Secaucus.

This week, for Crain’s New York, Previdi trumpets a refined idea: The 7 should go to Hoboken instead of Secaucus. He writes:

There are three important reasons to consider Hoboken over Secaucus. First, extending the No. 7 to Secaucus would take 21,000 feet of construction, while Hoboken Terminal sits only 9,000 feet away, which would incur billions less in construction costs.

Second, Hoboken Terminal is a huge facility with plenty of spare capacity. It sits on 50 acres, has 17 platform tracks and is used by only 32,000 passengers a day. By comparison, New York’s Penn Station sits on two blocks, has 21 tracks and is used by over 500,000 passengers a day. It has no spare capacity. Third, the original ARC project was designed to double NJ Transit’s rail ridership—Secaucus is not capable of accomplishing this without major track changes. Only two tracks lead into Secaucus from Newark, which is why it is a major choke point on the Northeast Corridor.

Mr. Bloomberg’s initial response to the canceled ARC project would work brilliantly in Manhattan because it uses spare capacity on the No. 7 to avoid building a station under Macy’s. By the same token, Hoboken has spare terminal and track capacity and is much closer to the 7 than Secaucus. Marrying Hoboken Terminal and the 7 would cost half as much as the other projects, or less.

As the finer points of the engineering study for the plan to send the subway to Secaucus have yet to be released, it’s tough for me to pass judgment on Previdi’s idea. It’s worth noting too that Hoboken already has a subway system in PATH that connects to Manhattan. I can say however that Previdi presents an intriguing competing plan. He is very much in support of the mayor’s pet project, but he wants to see something realized that will help with New Jersey Transit’s capacity problems. Ultimately, that might be too tall an order for a subway extension, but if someone is going to sink $10 billion into a trans-Hudson tunnel, it must deliver returns.

It’s been 15 months since Gov. Chris Christie torpedoed the ARC Tunnel. At the time, as Previdi notes, he promised to “consider more reasonable solutions to meet NJ Transit’s goals.” Maybe throwing New Jersey’s support behind a subway extension will be considered a more reasonable solution, but maybe the 7 can’t do as much as the region wants and needs. Still, if this project is to move forward, we must consider all possibilities, and Hoboken is indeed out there, awaiting its attention and perhaps a subway stop too.

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SomeGuy32 December 7, 2011 - 12:29 am

why Hoboken? PATH already goes from Hoboken to both midtown and the WTC.

al December 7, 2011 - 1:44 am

The PA is already going CBTC for PATH. That should boost 33rd St terminal another (maybe) 10k passengers per hr, 20-30k per peak period, 40-60k per workday. The 7 to Hoboken should be on hold until there is a demonstrated need beyond what the modernized PATH could handle. Its also apparent that getting the (federal, state, agency) funds lined up will take a long time.

Marc Shepherd December 7, 2011 - 8:40 am

You can’t put the 7-to-Hoboken on hold, because it doesn’t exist. It’s just an idea in a newspaper article.

But I am a amazed that readers here don’t see the merits of the idea. The whole point is to provide a 2-seat ride to East Midtown, where neither PATH nor NJ Transit currently goes. This has always been the Achilles heel of both systems. Recall that early ARC designs had trains continuing to Grand Central; and decades ago, PATH proposed an extension to Grand Central that was blocked repeatedly by the city. Think how much better the transit system would be, if that had gone through.

Let’s assume the premise of extending the 7 to New Jersey, as a far less expensive alternative to the now-dead ARC. If you don’t understand why providing expanded trans-Hudson capacity is worthwhile, then I can’t help you. In any event, there is no point in discussing the merits of Secaucus vs. Hoboken if you don’t favor a westward extension of the 7 at all.

But if you accept the premise of extending the 7 to NJ, Hoboken is much closer (hence, far less expensive to reach) than Secaucus. It has more capacity than Secaucus. And any NJ Transit train can get there. Hoboken would become a much more popular terminal for passengers destined for the East Side (which is Manhattan’s main business district), because the 7 would be a much more attractive option for those commuters than going to Penn Station and then taking 2 subways (or walking).

The fact that Hoboken already has PATH is irrelevant. PATH doesn’t go to the East Side, which is the whole point.

Al D December 7, 2011 - 9:05 am

There already is a 2 seat to East Midtown. It’s the E from Penn or PA Bus Terminal.

The M42 also provides a 2 seat from Port Authority and the M34a +SBS+ also serves East Midtown from Penn and the Port Authority, the M34 +SBS+ from Penn.

There are already a number of 2 seat options out there.

Tsuyoshi December 7, 2011 - 9:50 am

Except getting to Penn Station is already a two seat ride for some routes. Trains terminate at either Penn or Hoboken, and right now many people change at Secaucus to get to Penn.

Al D December 7, 2011 - 10:02 am

That sounds like a problem for NJ to solve?

Marc Shepherd December 7, 2011 - 2:41 pm

Ummmm….no. The tri-state economy is inter-dependent. That’s why the Port Authority exists. Trans-Hudson transit capacity benefits both New York and New Jersey.

Oh, by the way, many of those changing at Secaucus are, in fact, New Yorkers using the Port Jervis line.

Al D December 8, 2011 - 11:05 am

I’d say few are NYers, even though there are some.

Mr. Christie does not feel the same way about the tri-state economy, and if that’s why the PA exists, then why is the City proposing to extend a city subway line and not the PA proposing instead?

It’s because the only entity around here that cares about the city is the city. Certainly not the state of NY or MTA, a state mismanaged authority. Not NJ or NJT although at least NJT has the foresight to see the benefit of additional trans-Hudson capacity. So much for tri-state kumbaya.

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 2:42 pm

The Port Jervis Line’s ridership doesn’t exactly break the bank.

ajedrez December 7, 2011 - 10:52 am

One word. Buses.

In all seriousness, growing demand is better off being accomodated by trains than buses.

Bolwerk December 7, 2011 - 12:52 pm

Great, buses. On 42nd and 34th Street. Why not just tout the horse and buggies too? Obviously speed doesn’t matter to anyone….

ajedrez December 8, 2011 - 12:20 am

I was talking about capacity under the Hudson, not within Manhattan.

Bolwerk December 8, 2011 - 2:58 am

I was responding to Al D, not you. Although, significantly more buses under the Hudson is as silly if not sillier. The amount it would cost to get sufficient buses probably exceeds ARC, and that is mainly so you can spend more per rider (for fewer riders) to service the people desperate enough to take a bus.

As for the Manhattan surface routes, buses at least make some sense. The usage levels and boarding times lend themselves more to the surface rail (or BRT, since we like paying more for an inferior product), but that wouldn’t be so great either as long as nothing is done about the intractable traffic situation on Manhattan cross streets.

Al D December 8, 2011 - 11:19 am

I see that you’ve not heard of the M34+SBS+ 🙂

Clarke December 8, 2011 - 12:48 pm

(Praying that that’s sarcasm)

Rick Altabef December 7, 2011 - 3:52 pm

If east midtown acces for Jersey Transit riders is what this is all about, wouldn’t it save a cool fortune just to continue the Path train north on 6th Avenue and turn it eas under, say 50th St.?

al December 7, 2011 - 4:41 pm

Herald Square is incredibly congested underground. You have 4 tracks running to the east out of Penn Station under 33rd and 32nd st. The BMT Broadway and IND 6th Ave pass under Herald Sq. There are also City water tunnel 1 and other utilities. The cost of extending PATH while the rest are in operation would be daunting and could easily make 2nd Ave subway Phase 1 look cheap.

bob previdi December 7, 2011 - 8:49 pm

Thank you Marc, you got it.

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 2:44 pm

Marc, at no cost, they could tear down the walls between the two halves of each local station under Sixth Avenue, providing cross-platform transfers from PATH to the F and M. It doesn’t get rid of the transfer penalty, but it gets rid of the waiting and walking penalties.

Andrew December 11, 2011 - 11:10 pm

I assume you’re referring to 14th specifically, since the platforms are outside the tracks at 23rd. But isn’t PATH below the IND local tracks at 14th? PATH is also further south; if there’s an overlap at all, it isn’t very long.

Sexy Subways December 10, 2011 - 11:59 am Reply
Sexy Subways December 10, 2011 - 11:57 am Reply
Jared December 10, 2011 - 6:20 pm

There are no transit access points in the northern part of Hoboken. There is high density there and only bus service down Washington Street to Hoboken Terminal, where NJT, PATH, and HBLR is available. The 7 can come across at 23rd Street in Manhattan, turn south at 14th Street/Washington Street in Hoboken, and either terminate at the terminal or continue on and terminate at Secaucus. This would dramatically change the dynamic in Hoboken, vastly improving connections north and south and setting the stage for higher density.

Thunderfoot January 28, 2012 - 12:10 pm

Hoboken? The BRT had plans to extend the 14th street line to Hoboken close to 100 years ago.

Dan December 7, 2011 - 12:51 am

Another factor is that Secaucus is really a transfer for people going to either Hoboken or Penn Station. I wonder how many riders would want the #7 there, especially when there might be a few stops between Secaucus and 34th/11th.

If many current PATH riders from Hoboken are walking to Times Square or Midtown East/Grand Central (or transferring) at Herald Square, perhaps the #7 (which presumably would go direct to West 23rd or 34th/11th) might be more appealing.

I don’t know though.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:26 pm

When the Lincoln Tunnel XBL achieves a backup of 45 minutes or more during the rush, increasingly common, some Bergen County transit riders will certainly consider “change at Secaucus for the No. 7 ” as a viable option. And that’s allowing for the artificial constraint that such a project will only attract “commuters.”

Eric December 8, 2011 - 12:50 pm

How about extending the 7 THROUGH the Lincoln Tunnel? Of the three two-lane tunnels that make up the Lincoln, one tunnel could be given to rail, replacing the XBL and one more traffic lane.

This would be MUCH cheaper than the other 7-extension options – no new under-river tunnel would be needed. Just a couple blocks of tunneling, not under buildings, in Manhattan. On the New Jersey end, the 7 would follow the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail ROW south to Hoboken. The overall cost could easily be under a billion dollars.

And of course, a subway would have much higher capacity than the current arrangement…

al December 8, 2011 - 1:39 pm

More likely would be a PATH train or the HBLR through one of the Lincoln Tunnels to a terminal at PA Bus terminal. The north tunnel would be best due to larger turn radius and a relatively straight feed into the Bus Terminal. The maximum grade is 3.8%. PATH trains can make that.

However, modern underwater rail tunnel standards and Port Authority revenue concerns might trump tunnel conversion.

Eric December 8, 2011 - 6:06 pm

Extending PATH would probably be easier politically than extending the 7. But it would create yet another Manhattan dead end, lose the benefits of through-running and do nothing to minimize transfers, all of which the 7 would avoid.

Of course, any rail through the tunnels would be about 10 times cheaper than the brand-new tunnels that have been proposed, for similar benefit.

As for PA revenue: Given the capacity of a subway vs. a road lane (roughly 10 times higher), I suspect the revenue from subway service would not be much lower than from car tolls. However, apportioning it would be harder.

al December 8, 2011 - 11:28 pm

There is also a problem with do you replace the XBL with the rail conversion or do you supplement it.

During AM peak the XBL carries lots of passengers. It brings as many bus commuters (~62,000) into Manhattan as NJ transit into Penn Station. Add on the HOV and single occupancy vehicles and that is a impressive 66,000 commuters. PATH and Flushing line can’t carry much more than that until CBTC is done.

A replacement scenario (without flipping a lane against peak direction or turning the Lincoln into peak only operations during rush hrs) crams 3 car lanes into 2 during am peak and midday.

Eric December 11, 2011 - 5:53 am

Replace. A full 7 would carry about as many passengers as the XBL at rush hour, and many more the rest of the day. 2000 people/hour fewer could drive through the tunnels each hour, but the number of people wanting to drive would decrease by much more than 2000 due to the convenience of the subway. I believe NJ Transit is limited by tunnel capacity, not demand.

al December 8, 2011 - 11:35 pm

There could be a case to be made for sending the Flushing Line to Port Authority (or joint MTA/PA operation). A elevated spur off the 7 to LGA away from residential areas would seem to be one of the cheapest and most politically likely of options.

David in Astoria December 7, 2011 - 12:53 am

Holy Jersey Sore!
There already is a train from NYC to Ho’Broken so why spend Billions more so that Mr. Christie’s BIG Jersey Executives get easier access to NYC and its Billions For Billionaire Program?
Oh yeah, all that money has to go to a few well-connected Republicans. Should take decades too…

Phil December 7, 2011 - 1:25 am

It’s the New York City Subway, not the New York City-and-a-random-destination-in-NJ-that-is-a-worthless-replacement-for-an-extra-set-of-tunnels-Subway. Extending the 7 down through West Chelsea would serve more people with far less construction and money, as would a stop at 10th Avenue.

Bruce M December 7, 2011 - 3:14 pm

The 7 tunnels already extend into West Chelsea–all the way down to 26th St. Am I the only one that thinks it absurd that they simply didn’t extend it two more blocks + platforms in order to have a 23rd Street station? As for this business of needing layup tracks after 34th Street: how is it that they’ve been able to have trains turn around at Times Square for decades without them?

John-2 December 7, 2011 - 4:20 pm

The factor is how close the bumper blocks are to the end of platform. As construction of the extension has revealed, the 7 tracks ended at the platform wall of the lower level IND station at 42nd St., so trains could arrive at Times Square at regular speed, because even if there are some breaking problems, you’d have to be going like a batouutahell coming out of the Fifth Avenue station to overshoot the station all the way to Eighth Avenue.

Stations like Eighth Avenue on the L, Chambers/WTC on the E of Hoboken on PATH have a lower approach speed, because the bumper blocks are within the station. The tail tracks south of 34th on the 7 extension are designed to allow the trains to maintain the ability to arrive at the terminal at normal speed, while adding extra space for storage. If the line is ever extended to Secaucus, Hoboken or just down to Lower Manhattan, the same set-up will be needed to maintain the line’s current TPH numbers during rush hour.

David December 7, 2011 - 6:16 pm

Guys, check out this really cool Subway idea I saw a few days back…

Chris December 7, 2011 - 1:52 am

Phil –

You are right. Extending the #7 downtown would serve more New Yorkers, AND prevent the subway from being involved in interstate commerce, where the Feds would have a say-so in the running of the NYC subway. I’d like to see the #7 brought all the way downtown – or, at least within walking distance of the WTC complex.

With that being said, I will continue to question the need to keep all lines underground. We lost a golden opportunity with the High Line project to reuse the viaduct for mass transit. If Chicago has above ground Els in the heart of its business district, might it make sense to build them in areas with crappy mass transit in NYC? They are cheaper to set up, and have an aesthetic which fits some of the grittier areas of the city….


Joe Steindam December 7, 2011 - 7:27 am

You’re certainly right to question the need for all transit lines to be underground, the cost of the Second Avenue Subway is a significant enough argument that not all future construction should be underground. But the High Line was never a viable option for renewed subway service. The structure was crumbling and beyond repair (bringing the High Line to a state of repair for trains would’ve cost more than the repairs made to make it safe for a park). More importantly, the line runs through buildings and in alleys behind buildings, which would likely not be tolerated for a mass transit line with 6-8 minute headways at rush hour.

Newer elevated construction uses concrete supports which minimize the sound issues of our existing elevated structures (although it loses that gritty flair that the other elevated lines have), which is why it should be considered for extensions to the subway outside of Manhattan, where there is more space to bring the tracks above ground in the first place.

Rick Altabef December 7, 2011 - 4:02 pm

The great resource that ‘s going unsed for extending subway service is the Amtrak open cut from 34th st to 72nd st and the under Riverside Park. The open cut is wide enough for three tracks and Amtrak barely uses one. The opencast location between 10th and 11th Aves would bring service to the far west 40’s, 50’s and 60’s for the first time.

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 8:05 pm

It would bring service to Riverside Park, not so much to the Far West Side. There’s a major elevation difference on the UWS, and in the 50s, having service that detours through Penn Station is suboptimal.

Rick Altabef December 9, 2011 - 12:53 am

A new 10th Av service using the Amtrak opencut (with absolutely no new tunnel construction anywhere) can be connected to the 8th av subway at 31st St. Downtown “C” trains could terminate at 34th St — the middle platform is perfect for this — leaving two full 8th Av tracks south of 34th St to accommodate 10th Av trains. Going north, 10th Av trains would turn west from 8th av just south of the 34th St statiion, go through the train yards and turn north into tthe Amtrak open-cut, and then make stops at 34th St, 42nd St, 50th St, 57th St, 65thSt and 72nd St. A third track would be added to the opencut to accommodate both northbound and southbound Amtrak trains, the handful that ltravel each day between Penn Station and Albany.

Alon Levy December 9, 2011 - 8:22 am

If C trains terminate at the middle platform, where do A trains go?

Rick Altabef December 10, 2011 - 1:23 am

On the outer tracks. The idea is split two of the 8th av line’s track at 31st St. South of there, these two tracks would carry 10th Av service; north of there, the C train runs on these two tracks. The 8th av line’s other two tracks would continue carrying the A and E trains. The A and one 10th Av train could continue into Brooklyn south of Chambers Street while the E and the other 10th Av train would terminate at World Trade Center.

Alon Levy December 10, 2011 - 7:58 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t this mean making the A and C cross each other at grade?

Rick Altabef December 11, 2011 - 1:38 am

Yeah, and that would cost some money to fix. To avoid it, you could use the same basic scheme but let it be the southbound E that terminates at the 34th Street station’s middle platform.. Let the A cross onto the local track south of 50th St and continue south with the C train on the outside track. E train riders heading to lower Manhattan would have a cross platform change at 42nd St — a small price to pay to enable an entire 10th Av line.

Andrew December 11, 2011 - 10:30 pm

There’s no crossover from local to express south of 50th St., and threading a new one above the E would be structurally challenging (in other words, very costly).

And how does your proposed line get past the southbound local track “with absolutely no new tunnel construction anywhere”?

Rick Altabef December 12, 2011 - 6:09 pm

Then cross the A onto the local track south of 59th St, where there’s already a switch track. Now there’s ABSOLUTELY no new construction — just
The little matter of connecting the new 10th Av line to the middle tracks of theb8 th Av line south of 31st St. But think of the money the city will make from this with enhanced real estate values along the 10th Av corridor. The west half of Hell’s Kitchen will be Manhattanized at last. And let us say Kaching.

Andrew December 12, 2011 - 8:01 pm

The switches south of 59th lead to 6th Avenue. That’s not going to help.

The A could cross to the local track north of 59th, but then it would be merging with the B as well as the C. There isn’t enough track capacity for all three at their current headways, and, even if there were, merge-and-then-diverge moves lead to unreliable service.

You appear to have no conception of the engineering difficulty (i.e., extreme expense) in underpinning an existing subway track to allow two new tracks to run underneath it.

How would this enhance real estate values? Unlike the 7 extension, this line doesn’t serve the Midtown business district at all. It does serve lower Manhattan, but at the expense of the E. And it seriously degrades Central Park West service, which carries far more riders than your proposed line ever would.

Rick Altabef December 12, 2011 - 9:01 pm

Is it that big a deal to add a switch track south of 59th St? The service would be to the West 40’s and 50’s from Brooklyn and lower Manhhatan,;and from Queens and Grand Central with a transfer from the 7 extension.

Another way the Amtrak open cut can be used to create 10th Avenue serice in the 40’s and 50’s is to have the 7 extension branch both north and south at 41st and 10th Avenue.

The Silence December 7, 2011 - 2:08 am

Pervidi seems to assume that the IRT would be able to use extra space on the surface level of the station.

Last time I checked the FRA would put a stop to that, probibly before anyone who suggested it could even finish thier sentance. There’s a reason the HBLR station if off in a corner.

BoerumHillScott December 7, 2011 - 7:43 am

As I read it, the extra capacity refers to the fact that more NJT trains could be run to Hoboken, where people would transfer to a new 7 line.

There is no way that a line deep enough to cross the river could come to the surface in such a short distance.

Al D December 7, 2011 - 9:17 am

That’s kind of the problem with HBLR in Hoboken. It skirts the city. Instead, the route should have been down Washington, at least in 1 direction, with the reverse direction on a nearby street. It’s like a 15 minute walk from HBLR Hoboken station, around through the terminal to get anywhere in ‘downtown’ Hoboken.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:16 pm

HBLRT’s current route also helped grow the western portion of the Mile Square City, so many of us, even those of us who wanted it to go east and/or down Washington Street, don’t see this as an all-or-nothing “problem.” It was an alternate route, one that many in the western portion of the city testified they wanted. Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, we rail advocates weren’t all-powerful; we tended to let LRT go where it was welcomed. No regrets on that score–and Hoboken’s tax-base certainly can’t complain with the final decision.

Hoboken is in the initial stages of considering a streetcar for Washington Street, FYI.

Justin December 12, 2011 - 10:31 pm

Is that an Ian Sac’s pipe dream, or something more?

bob previdi December 7, 2011 - 8:57 pm

I would propose the station be built under the plaforms – physically separated.

Ham December 7, 2011 - 2:53 am

Reading this got me wondering if anyone’s done any studies to determine if there might be a greater utilization of the PATH trains if they were labeled as part of the NYC subway system and if the double fare could be eliminated so people could transfer for free from the subway to PATH and vice versa? Or is the PATH already running close to capacity and thus encouraging ridership would only lead to overcrowding? It seems that with maybe $100 million in station improvements and some sort of revenue sharing agreement between the MTA and the Port Authority, one could lay the groundwork for expanding the NYC subway and better integrating the region. Clearly someone must have thought of this at some point, and I’m curious as to why it has never happened.

TP December 7, 2011 - 9:18 am

I don’t have numbers off the top of my head but the PATH is frequent and crowded during rush hours so I’d assume it’s close to capacity during those times. Frequency and routing on weekends and late nights is pretty terrible though, and I think they could boost ridership during those times by simply running more trains to make trips more convenient.

To get to Jersey City from the 33rd St line on weekends you have to go via Hoboken–they consolidate the routes– so the train just sits in Hoboken station, which is frustrating and I think discourages ridership then.

As far as station improvements? PATH stations are in very, very good condition compared to MTA subway stations. They’re clean, well lighted, and functional if not a bit utilitarian and sparse, which probably makes them easier to keep clean.

Nyland8 December 23, 2011 - 8:07 am

It seems to me that integrating the PATH into the subway system offers TREMENDOUS advantages to anyone who looks at the systems in terms of regional needs, and not provincial desires. Several PROFOUND improvements in regional transportation can be relatively easily spawned by such an integration.

For one, PATH operates under modified FRA regulations – just as the Staten Island Railway does – and since the MTA already intends to reopen the Staten Island northern corridor, AND the PA already intends to run the PATH two stations further south to Newark Airport, connecting those two systems on the New Jersey side would cost BILLIONS less than tunneling under the Narrows between Brooklyn and S.I. So right off the bat, the fifth borough could suddenly, and finally, be annexed to the rest of the city. The MTA could operate that new FRA regulated S.I.R./PATH hybrid as a “C” division. Contrast that with the fact that even if the MTA came up with a plan, and the money, to extend the “R” train to S.I., it still couldn’t integrate that system with the S.I.R. Which means you’d have to make that extension a terminal and still have a minimum two-seat ride into Manhattan.

Also, by extending the already existing PATH train bell mouth at the 9th Street station (the trans-Hudson line had always intended to go cross-town to the 4,5,6) up over to Union Square, you be offering East Side access to those users. That system is already at the proper lower grade, and it wouldn’t require crossing any other subways on its one-stop Union Square journey – which already has a lovely underground connection between 4,5,6,L,N,Q & R trains.

Finally, the WTC PATH line can be extended ONE STOP and junction with the soon-to-be finished “T” train – 2nd Ave line – again giving the new S.I.R/PATH hybrid even further east side access.

So we see that in something as simple as getting the PA to divest itself of its subway, suddenly all kinds of serious regional transportation improvements become within relatively easy reach.

After subsuming the PATH into the MTA …
Cost of Union Square access to Newark Airport and S.I. = the cost of tunneling ONE STOP.
Cost of creating “T” train link to WTC and beyond = the cost of tunneling ONE STOP.
Cost of finally integrating Staten Island to the rest of the boroughs with a one-seat connection to midtown = the cost of a rail bridge across the Arthur Kill, use of existing right-of-way up to Elizabeth and running the proposed Newark Airport PATH extension further south by ONE STOP.

It would mean that all mass-transit using New Yorkers – i.e. most of us – would have access to our region’s busiest airport with the swipe of a MetroCard. It would mean that all New Yorkers would have cheaper, faster two-seat access to Jets and Giants football games. It would mean that Staten Island would finally stop being the bastard step child of the boroughs … and it would do all of that WITHOUT creating another major trans-Hudson or trans-Narrows tunneling project – which always take more time and cost billions more than surface solutions.

But it all begins with subsuming the PATH system into the MTA.

John-2 December 7, 2011 - 3:16 am

Since we’re in the “Money is no object” stage of tossing out proposals right now, it is possible to do both Hoboken and Secaucus — if you assume any Flushing Line extension to New Jersey would branch off somewhere near the south end of the tail tracks at 11th Avenue and 26th Street, the line would cross the Hudson and hit the north end of Hoboken, around 11th Streeet, and from there could be extended west to the Secaucus Transfer Station. You wouldn’t want to put too many stops along the way, but one at Washington St. would serve the Stevens Institute area, and you could put one other stop above the Palisade and possibly one just below it, to connect up with the HBLR”s Ninth Street station.

Connecting HBLR to the new line there makes more sense than running it down to the Hoboken Terminal, because as noted above, you’ve already got PATH service to Herald Square there. Of course, any of this fantasy routing would have to be on New Jersey’s dime, since the more stations the line has in the Garden State, the more New Jersey and the property owners, businesses and residents around the new stations stand to benefit.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:23 pm

John-2 essentially gets it right, at least from Hoboken’s perspective and (as well) from the perspective of many of us Jersey rail advocates. Until we get to the money, there’s no “either/or” for us concerning Hoboken and Secaucus. John-2 is also right in noting the biggest bang for Hoboken would NOT be anywhere near Hoboken Terminal, but somewhere in the northern reaches of the Mile-Square City. His options for Hoboken stops, while not the only ones possible, make sense as well. A Ninth St./Congress St. Station subway stop to tie in with HBLRT has been bandied about by officials here, with much interest.

One certainly can respect assertions that Manhattan and/or other New York boroughs should receive New York subway service first before New Jersey, or even the belligerent stance that New Jersey can’t join the party at all (even if it pays for the privilege). But this writer hopes the opinions being voiced here about Hoboken’s potential, such as it might be are being advanced by people who actually know something about the city, and not (just) from a “Manhattan-centric” perspective.

Bolwerk December 7, 2011 - 1:00 pm

I think Ben said it a few blog posts ago: if a regional planning committee were making these decisions without respect for borders, some kind of extension to that part of NJ would be a no-brainer before an extension to Staten Island – and that’s not to say (I think) Staten Island can’t use a subway, because I think it really can.

But there is no official funding mechanism in place here. Obviously New York isn’t wholesale paying for New Jersey’s railroad, though perhaps funding tunneling to the border under the river would be a fair contribution for the city to make. Beyond that, if the city finances this, I think there should be a financial return for the city – which is certainly feasible.

John-2 December 7, 2011 - 2:14 pm

I would think if anything like this ever happens, New York’s payment-in-kind would be mostly focused on modifying the stations within the city, especially Times Square and Grand Central, to handle the bi-directional rush hour traffic that a 7 extension to New Jersey would bring in.

There’s certainly room on the Grand Central platform between the stairs to the Lex and the near-Third Avenue exit for a new street access point on the east side of Lexington Avenue, but as we’ve sadly learned from the Fulton Transit Center costs, just putting in a few new exits nowadays can be massively expensive. While you can expect NYS via the Port Authority also to end up getting involved, New Jersey still needs to be the one bearing the bulk of the costs to connect up the line between wherever on the west side of the Hudson and the tail tracks at 26th and 11th.

Bolwerk December 7, 2011 - 2:36 pm

I don’t know about the the idea that huge reconfigurations are necessary. Volume at those stations isn’t exactly anemic, but it’s not crushing now either. For NJT riders bound for the east side, Bryant Park will often be as good as GCT. And there are already other decent enough ways to other critical east side points that avoid the Lex, so I don’t know that dumping more traffic on the Lex is going to be a big issue like it is for ESA (unless it’s induced demand, anyway).

Larry Littlefield December 7, 2011 - 7:12 am

I can’t believe we are talking about using New York City money to expend the Flushing Line to New Jersey when a decision has been made to shut down subway lines in New York City due to age and deterioration.

What? You say no such decision has been made? YES IT HAS.

The decision has been made to run up the debts. This has been followed by a non-decision to end ongoing normal replacement of critical systems in what was the MTA capital plan.

And that will be followed by a non-decision to shut down lines when the aging equipment makes service impossible. Can’t happen? There was a 20 year outage on the Manhattan Bridge.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:53 pm

Sure it could happen, in a transport vacuum when only passenger rail transit was in play. But other forces–and perhaps stronger ones–are being leveraged against rubber-tire travel. If New York City’s subway service survived (however precariously) the dark days of the 1970s, it’s a pretty safe bet it will soldier on, however imperfectly, during the first half of the 21st century.

As the old saying goes, for better and for worse, New York has been where the rest of the nation is going.

Larry Littlefield December 7, 2011 - 4:01 pm

Roger that. I, for one, am not looking forward to the return trip. But preparations are made. I’m a real railfan, but I ride a bike to work and many other places most of the time now.

And let me tell you, the past couple of months every time I’ve been on the subway it has stunk. Crushloading after delays.

BoerumHillScott December 7, 2011 - 7:40 am

I think that if New Jersey is willing to fund and subsidize the majority of the project, it is a great idea.

PATH does a great job getting people to the WTC/WFC and Penn Station areas and a decent job getting people to the Times Square area.
However, it does a poor job getting people to the largest office space market in the country: The Midtown East area around GCT.

Although many people hate to admit it, we live in a metro area that extends well beyond the borders of the city or state, and for NYC to continue to grow and thrive as a business center we need to continue to grow the ability to get people who live outside the city into the core business districts.

Linkage: Blake Lively Returns to 225 Fifth; 7 Train to Hoboken?; More! - The Broker Buddy December 7, 2011 - 9:15 am

[…] eye on the Drake site [NYP] · New site CityMaps is almost done mapping New York [NYT] · Should the 7 train be extended to Hoboken, not Secaucus? [SAS] · Tudor City cul-de-sac could become pedestrian plaza [DNAinfo] Monthly […]

sakj December 7, 2011 - 9:34 am

There is no need to extend the 7 to NJ. The issue of connectivity is Jerseys issue, not NYs. Since we are just imagining possibilities, the best option would be to extend the Path terminal in Hoboken up Washington St north and then curve West to Union and Secaucus. The Path is underutilized and there is greater need to the north in Hoboken and in Union and Secaucus. There is plenty of capacity in Path trains as it stands.

Scott E December 7, 2011 - 10:02 am

Given the exerpt from the article posted, I can’t understand how this idea can even be taken seriously. Let me go point by point on the three items discussed in the excerpt.

1. “Extending the No. 7 to Secaucus would take 21,000 feet of construction, while Hoboken Terminal sits only 9,000 feet away”
Actually, extending to Hoboken would be more difficult. If the river-crossing were to be near Secaucus, the subway would need to take a southern turn in New Jersey and tunnel deep beneath the dense developments of Weehawken and Hoboken, resulting in all sorts of street closures and building condemnations for vent-shafts, much like we’re seeing on Second Avenue. To got to Secaucus would involve, for the most part, an at-grade routing. If, conversely, the 7 would head down the Manhattan side before crossing to New Jersey, it would have to negotiate the narrow streets snd existing tunnels near the PATH Christopher Street Station, and still be able to accomodate a sufficient curve to then head west beneath the river to Hoboken. Very expensive and disruptive.

2. “Hoboken Terminal is a huge facility with plenty of spare capacity. It sits on 50 acres, has 17 platform tracks and is used by only 32,000 passengers a day. By comparison, New York’s Penn Station sits on two blocks, has 21 tracks and is used by over 500,000 passengers a day. It has no spare capacity”
What’s the relevance of comparing Hoboken Terminal to NY Penn Station? I seriously doubt Penn Station-bound NJT passengers would change trains at Secaucus to head to more southern-Hoboken Terminal, just to hop on a subway and then go back north of Penn Station to Midtown-East. One of the reasons Hoboken has so many track is because it’s a stub-end terminal: trains must approach at very low speeds, and then sit there before departing in the direction from where the came. It’s not as efficient a structure as Penn. (I’ll also add that Hoboken is partially outdoors, has only low-level platforms, would require a very deep descent to reach a subway that was ready to cross a river, and has no room for an adjacent rail-yard for the 7 trains.)

3. “Third, the original ARC project was designed to double NJ Transit’s rail ridership—Secaucus is not capable of accomplishing this without major track changes. Only two tracks lead into Secaucus from Newark, which is why it is a major choke point on the Northeast Corridor.”
Again, what’s the relevance? If the Hoboken plan doesn’t touch the Northeast Corridor, it won’t relieve congestion on the Northeast Corridor. Isn’t that the whole point?

Finally, as many have pointed out, Hoboken has PATH (also the ferry and HBLR, by the way). PATH offers a one-seat ride from Hoboken to 33rd & 6th and to WTC. A subway would be redundant, and conjures images of the days when the IRT, BMT, and IND built infrastructure strictly to compete with one another. A subway line here would be incredibly wasteful.

Unless the motive is to keep west-of-hudson MNR riders (whose trains terminate in Hoboken) on MTA facilities throughout their entire journey — which would be more politically than practically motivated (and thus certainly believable), I just can’t see the merits in such a project. And if that IS indeed the motive, give those folks a crossing on the new Tappan Zee, which would provide real, tangible improvements.

The 7-to-Secaucus makes sense. It provides relief from a Midtown-West crossing with a Midtown-East crossing.

Charley S December 7, 2011 - 11:10 am


Nice post, I agree with all your points, except having a train yard on the NJ end of this extension is unnecessary – lines in our system only have yards at one end of the line, and the existing 7 train yard in Flushing should do just fine.

If this project ever sees the light of day – and I doubt it will – I’d also like to see the 7 train utilize the Meadowlands stub route from Secaucus Junction so that people can “take the train to the games” at MetLife Stadium or even visit that eyesore of a mega-mall.

Assuming that the tracks are already suitable for 7 train rolling stock, I think this idea would provide a significant accessibility improvement for one of the largest sport stadiums in the country for the relatively low cost of 3rd rail electrification.

Andrew December 11, 2011 - 10:54 pm

Actually, most lines that have substantial peaks in both directions have yards near both ends. Doing without a yard increases operating costs. And if Corona Yard isn’t large enough for the additional trains needed for the longer line, building additional yard space is probably cheaper in New Jersey anyway.

Transit services to sports stadiums are very busy before and after events but are otherwise dead (unless, of course, there are more stable traffic generators in the area). Running trains to the Meadowlands on a 2-minute headway every rush hour is plainly wasteful.

Justin December 12, 2011 - 11:07 pm

Once “American Dream Meadowlands” is open, a subway there would have regular traffic. It’s larger than the Mall of America.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:36 pm

Not all of us agree that a “7 to Secaucus” must exclude Hoboken, and this writer doesn’t see an extra interim Jersey stop (or even two) as a fatal flaw. But Scott E is correct in stating that Secaucus is the prize to be had with any such extension, the much more valuable exchange point for passengers. Hoboken’s inclusion is of secondary value.

jim December 7, 2011 - 1:48 pm

1. The proposal is to extend the existing tail tracks down 11th Ave and run diagonally under the Hudson. That’s where the 9000 ft comes from. The underwater crossing is somewhat longer than the crossing to Secaucus, but everything else is much cheaper.

2. The idea is that a 7 to Hoboken would generate ridership between other NJ areas and Hoboken. Additional NJT trains would be able to come into Hoboken instead of Penn Station. Which makes the excess capacity at Hoboken relevant.

3. There is trackage between Newark Penn Station and Hoboken. It isn’t powered, but could be fairly cheaply. Currently an occasional NJCL train runs into Hoboken via those tracks. Electrify them and NEC trains could, too. NJT doesn’t send many trains from Newark to Hoboken because the main attraction to commuters is PATH, which is available in Newark, too. Add NYCT availability to Hoboken and it makes sense to send trains there.

From the point of view of NYCT, 7 to Hoboken makes more sense than 7 to Secaucus Junction. Hoboken is a real place that also happens to have NJT connectivity. All Secaucus Junction has is NJT connectivity.

7 to Hoboken also makes possible an additional station in Manhattan at the Chelsea Piers.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 3:29 pm

Well, yes, sir, but that “connectivity” is vital if Bergen County transit passengers are to be assured any kind of adequate access to Manhattan in the future. Right now, Bergen County folk account for roughly two-thirds of the weekday congealing bus conga line, otherwise known as the Lincoln Tunnel XBL, which even some BRT backers acknowledge is at Level F, and that’s F for “Failure,” mode on many, many days. For New Jersey–if not for New York–that’s a powerful issue not to be measured only by being a “real place,” though your point about real places is acknowledged in full.

For all that, the current prime backers (select rail advocates) of the No. 7 line in New Jersey don’t see the line traversing through (or under) Hoboken at all, north or south. They hold firm to the idea that the 7 should intersect with HBLRT at Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, before heading west to Secaucus. The wish lists, if not the actual possibilities, are nearly endless, it might seem. But Hoboken isn’t a constant even for those supporting a No. 7 extension into New Jersey.

John-2 December 7, 2011 - 4:35 pm

It’s odd that they’d look at an HBLR connection at Lincoln Harbor, given where the tail tracks end. By the time you get to 26th Street in Manhattan, you’re well south of the Lincoln Habor station — a direct line across the river from there would bring the tunnel in around 14th Street in Hoboken, while shotting it across at a slight diagonal from Chelsea Piers would bring it in around 11th Street and the north side of the SIT campus.

To me, if you’re going to run the line to Secaucus and not have a six-mile gap between there and the first station across the river, that seems like the best routing to serve the most customers (and make the line more justifiable and more patronized during non-rush hours). And while a connection to HBLR at Ninth St would be a little less attractive to people at the north end of HBLR headed into the city than a Lincoln Harbor stop, traveling a mile south to go back a mile north would be pretty similar to the route of the M train, as it crosses the L at Wyckoff and then back again at Sixth Avenue. That routing seems to be doing OK, so you would likely see Weekhawken and Union City HBLR riders willing to go south to Ninth Street to transfer to the 7 and head across the river and back up to midtown, rather than deal with the Lincoln Tunnel rush hour hassles.

jim December 7, 2011 - 4:54 pm

My understanding of the Secaucus Junction routing is that it would use as much as possible the ARC EIS and Preliminary Engineering work, that is it would leave Manhattan at/around 28th St. and 12th Ave to cross directly to Weehawken. I assume that’s why there’s a possible HBLR connection there.

Part of the cost of the Secaucus Junction routing is that this wouldn’t be a straight extension of the tail tracks but would be new tunnels off (not yet existing) bellmouths on the existing tail tracks, probably around 30th, 31st Sts.

Justin December 12, 2011 - 11:43 pm

The ARC Tunnel design had a vent shaft in Hoboken just south of the Weehawken Border, adjacent to the light rail tracks. A new 16th Street Hoboken HBLT station could be constructed, as well as a 7 station at the vent location.

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 12:36 am

While we’re on the subject of nitpicking Penn vs. Hoboken, Penn doesn’t have 500,000 passengers using 21 tracks. It has about 360,000 using 21 mainline tracks, plus another 200,000 or so using 8 subway tracks. (Don’t believe me? Well, Penn gets 200,000 on+off LIRR riders. NJT used to have its number of boardings per station listed publicly, putting Penn at 67,000, i.e. 135,000 on+off. Amtrak has 25,000 on+off.)

Nyland8 December 23, 2011 - 9:14 am

I’m inclined to agree with your entire assessment, Scott E. It is the 7 train to Lautenberg that makes the most sense of any regional option. The 7 to Secaucus does everything the ARC project intended to do – AND MORE. Because the only purpose to building a skyscraper the size of Trump Tower under Macy’s was to take those daily commuters and distribute them across the major Manhattan trunk lines – A,C,E – 1,2,3 – B,D,F,M – N,Q,R.

The fact is, extending the 7 train does ALL of that – PLUS adds the 4,5,6 and, quite soon, also the T train. And it does it all for a tiny fraction of the price.

Stopping at 9th/Congress to pick up the HBLR makes perfect sense. If the city of Hoboken wants to put another stop near Stevens Institute at the north end of town, then they can foot the entire bill for the expansion. That would mean no more than three stops to get to the Javits – or four if the MTA builds a 23rd Street Station, which is probably a good idea.

AlexB December 7, 2011 - 10:11 am

The logic to this argument is that there are effectively only two tracks between Newark and Penn, including Secaucus. Some trains could be diverted to Hoboken for people going to the east side which would free up capacity for Penn Station bound trains/passengers. The PATH and Penn Station bound trains only gets people as far as 6th or 7th and 33rd. The 7 would provide more connection options (including the the Lexington line, eventual 2nd Ave subway, and Queens subway connections such as the G) and get people quite a bit further east and 8 blocks further north, not to mention it would relieve crowding on the PATH system. To really get a more clear idea of what the best options are, we would need real capacity numbers under each scenario, projected future ridership, and travel times from various places in New Jersey to some random destination in Midtown East, like 48th and 3rd or something similar.

Scott E December 7, 2011 - 11:05 am

As I mentioned, Hoboken doesn’t have all the capacity that they say. Even if the track connections and schedule modifications were made, and high platforms were installed (increasing the number of doors to board and depart trains), it’s still a terminal. Trains would still need to leave the way they came, tying up the switches and interlockings that got them there. Trains would need to approach the terminal at incredibly slow speeds because of the block at the end. Passengers would need to use a common platform to walk to the front of an arriving train, as the front of the train is the only way to and from the platforms (compare this to the multiple staircases at NY Penn, which are already crowded as it is). I’m not even sure if all tracks have overhead electrification at Hoboken.

Then there are the construction issues I mentioned earlier. I suppose these obstacles can be overcome, but I don’t think it would have much of an effect. One more thing to add: there’s parking at Secaucus, and with the Turnpike interchange, there’s easy-on, easy-off for passenger pickup and dropoff by friends, families, and taxis. Any vehicular traffic to Hoboken Terminal has to add congestion to the Holland Tunnel approach, and stand illegally in the police/bus parking area.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 12:58 pm

Some of us in Jersey don’t want that parking, sir. We think Secaucus’ rail-to-rail value would be of value enough. Still, it is a point to be made. As for that drop-off and pickup potential, it might better (also?) be used … by that vast NJ Transit bus fleet.

Scott E again is on the mark concerning vehicular access to Hoboken, something Hoboken itself is in the early stages of actively discouraging. That does not by itself invalidate a Hoboken stop on the No. 7, however. Hoboken has the population, and the population density, to make a Hoboken subway stop work if we’re counting coup.

Scott E December 7, 2011 - 1:35 pm

Thanks for your responses Douglas. I love reading your perspectives on transit in the Garden State. That said, I understand what you mean about parking, but remember that Secaucus Junction (originally Secaucus Transfer) was built without parking. This was a very unpopular decision among the public, and the construction of Exit 15X was considered wasteful.

Also, if memory serves me correctly, there used to be a local train station in Secaucus to serve the residents of that community. When the current station opened, the former station was replaced by an unpopular bus to a train, which effectively alienated a town’s worth of riders who could not drive to the new station. It was ironic that the “new and improved” station did everything but serve the town in which it was located.

Without parking, the Secaucus #7 station would serve only long-distance commuters, not those that live in or near Secaucus. (Football games excluded). There is no way for anyone to walk to the subway, and having a train or subway stop close-by that you can’t get to would be incredibly frustrating.

John-2 December 7, 2011 - 2:27 pm

You’d have to figure that any 7 extension to Secaucus would include major modifications to the vehicular access points and parking areas, similar to how WMATA keeping having to enlarge the parking areas for the outer stations on their system, as well as improved bus-and-car drop off points. That might not get the new station closer to where the old PRR stop was, but you could make going there less of a pain, combined with the increased frequency of a subway line over commuter rail (if you’ve got a train coming and going every two or so minutes during rush hour, you’re not as concerned about getting to the station a few minutes late).

The other point is if you put a stop or two on the north side of Hoboken, for the most direct line route from the current end of the 7 tracks to Secaucus, you would more than likely create major new economic development around those stops because of their new access to midtown. It might not be as big as what’s projected for Hudson Yards, but the builders, businesses and residents would come to the new station areas — there’s no need to route the 7 down to Hoboken Terminal to find those things.

Douglas John Bowen December 7, 2011 - 3:47 pm

The point about true “local” parking needs is well-argued, and Scott E’s memory serves him (you) very well. But many of us Jersey rail advocates maintained (and still maintain) that too much parking, and certainly “parking for all,” at the Junction actually undercuts NJ Transit’s own market, as well as any environmental gains the station might offer.

Current Junction parking prices reflect true market demand at least to a degree, so at least it’s not “discount,” but any emphasis on “adequate” parking at the Junction makes a lot of us uncomfortable. We’d like someone traveling from Fair Lawn to 42nd Street to leave the car in Fair Lawn, not Secaucus–unless s/he’s willing to pay for the privilege.

Having said all that, a No. 7 at Secaucus Junction puts a lot of stuff into play (including TOD, already advanced by the municipality itself independently of any subway proposal), so clearly changes would occur.

ajedrez December 8, 2011 - 12:26 am

Yes, that was the old Harmon Cove station. However, service to that station was never too frequent to begin with, and many residents prefer the new station because:

1) The shuttle bus-train runs more frequently than the few trains that used to stop at Harmon Cove.

2) The shuttle bus-train gave them the option of taking the train to Midtown, instead of relying on buses (which was obviously a major factor)

AlexB December 8, 2011 - 12:51 pm

The line to Hoboken is 4 tracks, whereas the line between Newark and Penn is only 2. Any 7 extension would probably not even be a part of the existing infrastructure, but instead a subway station beneath the rail terminal. Whatever modifications might need to be made to improve NJ Transit rail access to Hoboken would be extremely cheap relative to the overall cost of the 7 extension.

bob previdi December 8, 2011 - 3:01 pm


TH December 7, 2011 - 10:13 am

Perhaps I’m being naive, but wouldn’t it be a better idea to build a 5 block extension of the 7 along 34th st and integrate the PATH into the 7 line? If you want a Hoboken connection, then you got one. IDK, maybe its not technically possible?

Scott E December 7, 2011 - 10:55 am

The PATH is close, bot not identical, to IRT specifications. I was speaking to a PATH technician not too long ago, and he said that when the R142s were adapted to become PATH PA-5s, some adjustments needed to be made to make the train fit through the tube, like shrinking the size of the suspension and moving the A/C units. They also needed to move cables and conduits on the tunnel walls in order for the new trains to fit.

If you want to get a feel for just how tight a fit it is for PATH, try standing in any of the smaller stations (23rd, 14th, Christopher, Grove, Exchange Pl) as a train approaches or departs. The amount of wind in the station due to the “piston” action is tremendous, much more than on the subway. Hold on to your hat! At Christopher St, I’d bet the temperature fluctuates by 10 degrees in 5 minutes as trains push colder under-river air and warmer under-6th-Ave air into the station. It’s quite uncanny.

But my point is that the two are not interchangeable.

Ben December 7, 2011 - 11:04 am

PATH trains and platforms are also far shorter than IRT standards, I believe. I don’t think any PATH station could fit the 11-car 7 trains (and 11 cars are clearly necessary for the 7 due to overcrowding in Queens).

Ant6n December 7, 2011 - 11:44 am

Seems that making PATH and 7 compatible would be cheaper than building a cross-Hudson tunnel.

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 12:38 am

They already are compatible – PATH is built to IRT standards, more or less. I forget which of the local technical organizations (IRUM, maybe?) floated the idea of connecting the downtown PATH tunnels to the 6.

John-2 December 8, 2011 - 3:03 pm

You would have to design a hybrid subway car (the RPA-1?) that would mix the tighter turning radius of the PATH cars with the narrow outer frame widths of the IRT cars, to make it through both around the sharp curves in the H&M tubes and the built-for-trolley dimensions of the Steinway Tunnels. Doable, but probably not until the R-62/R-62As retire, because that would be a lot of existing MTA rolling stock to retire (especially with the CTBC retrofit contract on the R-142As) just to introduce a rail car that could hypothetically run from Newark to Flushing.

(Of course, if you want to be cynical, you can say none of this is going to happen at least until it’s time for the R-188s to retire…)

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 6:48 pm

Would it be easier to do this given that the plan is to connect to the 6 and not to the 7?

John-2 December 8, 2011 - 10:15 pm

I’d like to see a 3-D schematic of the WTC/City Hall area. We already know PATH can get underneath the 1, because thatwas bared for everyone to see after 9/11. But the A/C tracks between Chambers and Fulton have to run under the N/R tracks coming from City Hall to Cortlandt — PATH would have to go under that, and then under not just the 4/5 tracks, but the 2/3 tracks crossing City Hall Park between Beeckman and Park Place. But not so low that it can’t ramp up to meet the 6 somewhere in the City Hall loop for access to the Brooklyn Bridge station (and you might have to destroy part of the closed City Hall station to do it, which wouldn’t make historical preservationists happy).

It might be possible to thread that needle, but you’d be subducting a lot of operating subway lines to do it. Which still might not be as bad as threading the IND through Herald Square back in the 1930s, but it could make even a short four-block connection either cost prohibitive or too much of a disruption to the other lines to justify the effort.

Bolwerk December 9, 2011 - 9:08 pm

There seem to be some tracks presumably deeper than the loop itself already crossing under the 2/3 and the loop itself (see map). Any idea what those are for or if they could be used?

John-2 December 10, 2011 - 1:16 pm

Not sure — I know if you look out the window on the right side of a Brooklyn-bound 4/5 train you can see tracks before the tunnel makes the turn off Park Row and onto Broadway. Those may be the tracks, but are incorrectly listed as going below the loop and 2/3 tunnels on the nycsubways.org track map.

BoerumHillScott December 7, 2011 - 11:54 am

No practical way to hook up to the PATH at 34th.
It is right up against the 6th avenue line, and there is also the BMT line and 2 tubes into Penn station right there.

Justin December 13, 2011 - 12:08 am

I always thought that was because whereas MTA subway stations have sidewalks vents, the PATH does not.

bob previdi December 8, 2011 - 3:02 pm

technically its possible, but PATH is also technically FRA. That offers other challenges.

Ed December 7, 2011 - 11:20 am

One thing not mentioned is the Fulton Street Transit Center. Currently, you can get on the PATH at Hoboken and get to the World Trade Center in two stops, and a little more than a half hour. From there its a difficult connection to the R and the 1. But presumably once the Transit Center is completed there will be an easier transfer to the 4 and the 5 and now you have your East Side two seat connection.

I agree that NYC based planners overdiscount the PATH, for obvious reasons. A lot of problems could be addressed by more frequent PATH service outside rush hour and integrating fare collection with the MTA.

The Cobalt Devil December 7, 2011 - 11:37 am

Can’t you not already use a pay-per-ride MetroCard on the PATH? I seem to remember using my MTA farecard on the PATH a year or so ago.

That being said, the PA will never, repeat NEVER, give up the PATH to NYC Transit or any other agency. The PA rules its fifedom with an iron hand and brooks no criticism.

SEAN December 7, 2011 - 12:40 pm

If & or when MTA installs it’s contactless farecard system, PATH & NJT are will be on board. The card will resemble the one PATH is currently using.

Bolwerk December 7, 2011 - 1:05 pm

Yes, PATH accepts metrocard farecards, but not unlimited rides. I think Ed was saying they should accept unlimiteds too, and I agree. There isn’t a major technical hurdle to allowing it, and the financials can be reconciled by the respective accounting departments at PATH and NYCTA.

Nyland8 December 23, 2011 - 9:30 am

The Port Authority has no power whatsoever, other than that which is mutually agreed upon by Albany and Trenton. If the bi-State political will existed, the PATH system can be subsumed into the MTA with the wave of a pen.

Andrew December 11, 2011 - 10:59 pm

Until the temporary PATH station was moved to its present location, the connection from PATH to the 4/5 was a short walk (at street level, of course).

But Hoboken to East Midtown via Fulton Street is a bit circuitous.

Ben December 7, 2011 - 11:32 am

Here’s a proposal for connecting to both Secaucus and Hoboken, without being much more expensive than the current proposals and also serving West Chelsea and Hoboken and Jersey City Heights. As long as we’re dreaming big…


pea-jay December 7, 2011 - 11:04 pm

The Hoboken idea serves more people that don’t have subway access. W. Chelsea isn’t too difficult to reach as is.

Ben December 8, 2011 - 6:06 pm

I agree; I like the Hoboken routing better than the West Side Highway routing. It also works better with the layout of the Hoboken PATH station.

Mike December 7, 2011 - 12:03 pm

I know tons of people in our town that drive to secaucus everyday to catch the train to ny, since the bus from Teaneck to NYC is very slow and unreliable to get you to work before 9am even if you catch a 7:50 bus. Now, we leave at 8:10 & park at secaucus by 8:25 where we catch on of the many trains to the city

lawhawk December 7, 2011 - 1:28 pm

The original article gets a certain critical fact wrong about the tracks available on the between Newark and Secaucus. There are four tracks, not two. The four tracks merge into two tracks for the cross-Hudson tunnels that lead into Penn Station.

There are four platforms available at Secaucus for boarding.

To address another issue (relating to the steep ascent/descent into the tunnels), if we’re contemplating building a subway line extension, it isn’t necessary to see the end of the line above ground either – it could be built below grade, limiting the necessity to have a grade issue.

However, the underground space around Hoboken is extremely difficult to navigate – the PATH tunnels literally wrap around underneath the NJ Transit station, and that would force the proposed construction to be buried even deeper to maintain integrity of the 100 year old tunnels.

Nor does a Hoboken terminus reduce the need for transfers or relieve congestion at NYP unless NJ Transit eliminates a popular MidTown Direct service (which is the opposite of what NJ Transit has done in years past).

And forget about capacity issues with Hoboken – NJ Transit has lost the insitutional knowledge of how to operate more trains into Hoboken after switching to Midtown Direct – just look at the massive delays that ensue every time that there’s a delay on the NEC forcing trains to go to Hoboken, despite having 4 track access to Hoboken and sufficient storage space in the yards (which were recently reconfigured to provide more effective use of space as per NJ Transit).

Scott E December 7, 2011 - 3:36 pm

Not entirely. There are three tracks on the Dock Bridge over the Passaic River just east of Newark Penn Station (as well as at the Harrison PATH station), and just two tracks on the Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River. A Portal Bridge replacement was part of the ARC project.

lawhawk December 8, 2011 - 9:57 am

The Portal Bridge project was previously considered a standalone project, until Corzine and the NJ Senators rolled it into the ARC project, which was ill-conceived as they were seeking to implement it. The Portal Bridge rebuilding project, which should go forward on its own, would increase the track capacity from 2 tracks over the Hackensack River to 3 on a fixed span and 2 on a movable span.

Scott E December 8, 2011 - 10:42 am

Lawhawk, when you say the project “should go forward”, do you mean that there is actually such a political and financial impetus to do that, or are you just offering your own thoughts (as practical and common-sense as it is)?

bob previdi December 8, 2011 - 3:07 pm

The trains that feed secaucus come up the norhteast corridor and fan out into the four track platforms at Secuacus.
he constraining factor is the two tracks between Newark and NY.
That is the problem that needs to be solved.

Caelestor December 7, 2011 - 2:07 pm

Though I hold the unorthodox view that a new river tunnel is only necessary for redundancy in case of catastrophic damage, I’m honestly surprised no one has proposed just extending NJ Transit to Grand Central. Even with an additional transfer, changing trains at Secaucus is always faster than going to Hoboken. That’s why Secaucus was built in the first place!

Alon Levy December 8, 2011 - 12:41 am

No, it’s been proposed before. That was Alt G of ARC, warmly supported by Douglas John-Bowen here but not by the agencies that would have to share tracks (“what, us share tracks at our 60-track station? Inconceivable!”).

Boris December 7, 2011 - 2:45 pm

If we’re going to talk about the Fulton Street Transit Center, we might as well recall Alon Levy’s Regional Rail for New York plan, which calls for commuter rail from Hoboken to Fulton and on to Atlantic Ave. I know it’s an ARC-like revival, but I think we all know deep inside that the real solution is commuter rail here, not subways. The 7 can be extended down Hudson St to a NJT-subway connection at, let’s say, Hudson and Houston. Another option is to have the NJT tunnel continue under Houston to Williamsburg, with an eventual connection to JFK over existing unused tracks.

Still a two-seat ride to GCT for Jerseyites, but with way more benefits for New Yorkers, as this brings NJT closer to Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Clarke December 7, 2011 - 5:25 pm

NJT closer to Staten Island how? In that they could take a bus to the R to Times Square to the 7 to Hoboken for NJT? It seems that Elizabeth is an already-close NJT station

Clarke December 7, 2011 - 6:34 pm

Oh, sorry, misread your comment. I read it as the 7 to Hoboken would be a two seat ride to GCT, not your plan.

Alex C December 7, 2011 - 5:11 pm

Why exactly are ideas being floated to waste billions of dollars extending the NYC subway to NJ? Let’s focus on improving service in the five boroughs first.

jim December 7, 2011 - 5:36 pm

Yes, it sounds weird, doesn’t it. I’ve seen it theorized that what Bloomberg really wants is more stations on the far west side of Manhattan, but the City doesn’t have the money for them. The planned station at 41st and 10th was abandoned to keep the cost of the 7 extension down. So the City needs a project which can include new stations on the far west side, but be paid for with other peoples’ money. An extension to New Jersey fits the bill. Ideally it would be largely funded by the Port Authority and the FTA. I don’t think anyone believes that New Jersey will provide any large quantity of cash towards it, certainly not under this Governor. I take it that Previdi’s idea is to reduce the cost to the point that it’s credible that the PA and FTA could pick up the bulk of the costs. My back of the envelope figuring suggests that a 7 extension to Hoboken, even with two new Manhattan stations, would come in at something under half the cost of an extension to Secaucus Junction, even with only one new Manhattan station and only the Secaucus Junction stop in New Jersey.

Bolwerk December 8, 2011 - 6:17 pm

PA money and FTA money isn’t “other people’s money.” A large portion of it *is* rightfully our money, and we should get it back without having to play bullshit games with the feds, NJ, and the PA.

Bob April 16, 2013 - 8:54 am

Most NJ Transit customers come by bus, not train. That is not going to change. Road capacity is constrained east of the Meadowlands, particularly in the main part of Hudson county. A 7 Train to Secaucus would be serviceable by NJ Transit buses, as well as both NJ Transit rail systems. This would ease strain on the PA Bus Terminal, as well as improving connections for rail riders.


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