Home PANYNJ How much is that PATH train in the window?

How much is that PATH train in the window?

by Benjamin Kabak

Public transit subsidies are always a rather thorny issue when it comes to politics. There’s a compelling argument to be made that public transit should be subsidized to some degree or other as it allows people who can’t afford to live in downtown/center city areas relatively cheap access to job and cultural centers as well as other social services. There’s also an argument to be made that transit users should cover the operations and capital costs of the system, but until the nation’s drivers start footing all the bills for road maintenance and expansion, I have a tougher time buying into that argument.

In New York city, after years of divestment by state and city officials, riders carry most of the burden of their subway system. New York City Transit still enjoys the benefits of the MTA, but subway riders foot around two-thirds of the cost of a subway ride these days. Based on recent studies, in fact, the per-passenger subsidy is around $1. As far as American transit systems go, that’s a tiny subsidy, and we need look no further than our own city to find a transit network that seems to bleed money.

As Business Week explored recently, the Port Authority’s PATH system is woefully inefficient. PATH, noted the magazine, is more expensive than any comparable system and shouldn’t even be compared to Transit’s subway network. According to recent studies, the per-passenger cost of a PATH ride to Port Authority is $8.45, and the average fare of just under $2 doesn’t even cover a quarter of these costs. The New York City subway on the other hand relies on subsidies of around $1.11.

Business Week tried to explore why these cost discrepancies are so pronounced. As Port Authority auditors and watchdogs grow increasingly wary of the unruly agency, the money PATH is bleeding is coming under increased scrutiny. Martin Z. Braun reports:

The agency faces challenges across its portfolio of operations. Spending on policing has doubled since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and now consumes almost a quarter of the agency’s operating budget, Bloomberg News reported in June. Last year, its marine terminals lost 2 percentage points of market share. PATH has been a financial millstone around the Port Authority’s neck since it took over the bankrupt Hudson & Manhattan railroad in a 1962 trade between New Jersey Governor Richard Hughes and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. In exchange for getting the Port Authority to take over the H&M Hudson Tubes, as the rail line was known at the time, Hughes allowed Rockefeller to use the Port Authority to develop the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan…

While public officials and transportation analysts have pointed to the railroad’s low fares and its lack of state and federal aid to explain its strained finances, less attention has been paid to expenses. The 2012 national transit data include the impact of Hurricane Sandy, which struck Oct. 29 and knocked out PATH service. Even so, PATH’s cost per hour the year before was also higher than the New York subway system’s, by about two-and-a-half times. Federal Railroad Administration regulations, higher maintenance costs and round-the-clock service have boosted spending compared with other transit systems, Port Authority officials say.

A major difference between PATH and the New York subway system is that the trans-Hudson rail is regulated by the FRA while the Federal Transit Administration oversees the subway. The FRA imposes stricter safety standards and labor requirements, imposing higher costs, Port Authority officials said. Before each run, PATH workers must test a train’s air brakes, signals and acceleration, Mike Marino, PATH’s deputy director, said in a telephone interview. When a train gets to its terminus, workers repeat the test. In addition, every 90 days all of PATH’s rail cars undergo a three-day inspection at a facility in Harrison, New Jersey. Brakes, lights, communications, heating and air conditioning, signals and odometers are all checked, Marino said. “It’s a very intense inspection on every piece of rolling stock,” he said.

According to Business Week, PATH has tried to lobby for a move to the FTA rather than the FRA, but the FRA has resisted the switch as PATH “runs parallel to high-speed trains operated by NJ Transit, Amtrak and freight-line CSX Corp.”

The real question is what comes next. New Jersey officials seem keen to dump PATH on the MTA, but that wouldn’t solve the cost problem. It’s not clear that New York would accept sole responsibility for a bi-state rail system, and without the FTA assuming oversight, the MTA wouldn’t readily embrace taking on a money-losing proposition that’s committed to an unnecessary multi-billion-dollar Newark Airport extension.

New Jersey Transit too remains a possible destination, but that could lead to service reductions — a scary thought for a system that has helped drive renaissance efforts in Jersey City and Hoboken. New Jersey politicians do not view an NJT merger as a solution either. This too seems simpy to shift the problem from one agency to another.

PATH’s cost issue is clearly not sustainable, but it can operate with some level of subsidy. The question now focuses around how to reduce that subsidy without decreasing service or significantly upping fares. Anyone have any brilliant ideas?

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Alex C August 27, 2014 - 12:23 am

Nothing brilliant, but getting PATH out from under the foot of the incompetent dinosaurs at the FRA would definitely be a start. The greatest threat to decent passenger rail service in America is the FRA. They’re living in 1955, seemingly completely unaware of what railroads are like in civilized countries.

Nathanael August 27, 2014 - 4:48 am

The FRA has been nothing but trouble for decades. Their policies mostly date from the 1940s or earlier, and they have spent their time preventing sensible rail service.

The best thing which could happen would be the complete abolition of the FRA; its institutional culture appears to be sick. Its duties could be transferred to the FTA or the STB.

sonicboy678 August 27, 2014 - 1:28 pm

That said, FRA standards are not entirely a bad thing. Trains are more durable than they might be under other circumstances and the weight of the various cars fall well within track weight limits (in many places, anyway).

marv August 27, 2014 - 2:42 pm

overkill is not a bad thing ……until you have to pay for it.

I am often amazed how a theme park can move hundreds of people on narrow roller coasters fairly cheap roller coasters but government has to spend billions to move people.

An above ground tubular construction Grand Central to Secaucus loop built half width would not be intrusive and would meet a real transit need on the cheap and would take pressure off of the Hudson Tubes and Penn Station. I would also be a tourist attraction.

It would be staffed at both ends but would not need on board personnel

lop August 27, 2014 - 3:01 pm

A lot of rail projects do have a cost problem, but crossing a river that is nearly a mile long without interfering with navigation is expensive. So is a system that can handle twenty thousand or more people per hour in peak direction.

AG August 28, 2014 - 3:36 pm

Wouldn’t extending the 7 train to Secaucus do a better job?

John-2 August 27, 2014 - 12:33 am

Several of the above-ground sections of WMATA, including the Red Line in Montgomery County and the Blue/Yellow lines near Alexandria, also run side-by-side with commuter and freight rail without requiring the FRA certification. And that’s with rail cars up until the new 7000 series that were built to far lighter specs than any of the MTA’s subway cars, let alone PATH’s rolling stock

There might have to be a few barrier upgrades for PATH’s tracks, but there doesn’t seem to be a reason why the system can’t get the same FTA designation the D.C. subway receives, where only a low wall and wire fencing separates the rail lines coming out of Union Station from those fragile 1000 series WMATA cars.

Chris August 27, 2014 - 3:35 am

The key quote is:

A major difference between PATH and the New York subway system is that the trans-Hudson rail is regulated by the FRA while the Federal Transit Administration oversees the subway. The FRA imposes stricter safety standards and labor requirements, imposing higher costs,

I’ve been noting this as a reason for the MTA never to take a bite out of the PATH system.

Yet, the key question remains – why are expenses so disproportionally high for the PATH system? The FTA/FRA regulation cost differences can’t be that extreme. Where is the money going?

The PA has way too many things under its jurisdiction: Airports, Bridges, a major Port, and a mass transit system. Management of these entities should all be spun off as their own entities, so that a better cost breakdown for each area can be established. Once this is done, it’ll be harder to justify monstrosities such as an overpriced station house at WTC. Let the bridges subsidize the rails. (However, we may still need some special legislation to deal with events, such as having to raise bridges for super-panamax cargo ships which will be arriving in a few years.)

In short, we need to disaggregate the expenses and revenues of the PA to see where the waste is. Might the PATH system need to be restructured to run more efficiently? Who knows? But without good data for the whole of the PA, we have no way to see where the black holes, the money pits are….

Nathanael August 27, 2014 - 4:49 am

Frankly, the division between New York and New Jersey is what really doesn’t make sense. 🙁

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 9:43 am

How about NY swaps Staten Island to New Jersey for Hudson County?

marv August 27, 2014 - 10:02 am

As crazy as swapping SI for part of NJ sounds, it actually would benefit most/all. Cross Hudson development is held back because of rivalry and Staten Island is isolated from its true environment. A swap would cure both.

Of course a swap would never ever ever happen as “no’s” are carry many times the weight of “yes’s” and this is at the same time a both constant hold back but also a safety.

Edward August 27, 2014 - 11:58 am

Why would the swap work? What kind of magic would suddenly make the PA and PATH work better? Staten Island is one of the original 11 counties of New York, and has been since the 1660s. You think Hudson County is some great shakes? It’s one of the poorest, dirtiest, most corrupt counties in New Jersey.

This whole “trade SI to NJ” bullshit is some one of the dumbest things ever proposed, and will never happen. Let it go already

marv August 27, 2014 - 12:14 pm

Hell’s Kitchen was as the name implied but due to it being connected to the rest of Manhattan it will become great. NYC has little incentive to increase linkage to NJ as tax collection will flow predominantly west. If both sides of the Hudson belong to the same tax base, then you could be sure that the #7 would make it across the river and the resulting boom (look at 2nd Avenue) would be shared by all.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 12:33 pm

Sorry, but as if we’re so good at building rail projects within our own jurisdiction? We can’t even get a perfectly sensible one in Brooklyn!

There are now examples in Europe of transit systems crossing national borders. If you can’t already, soon you will be able to hop on a light rail in France (Strasbourg) and get off across the Rhine in Germany.

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 12:30 pm

I agree it will never happen. But am I the only one who remembers when Staten Island passed a referendum to secede from NYC?

Quirk August 27, 2014 - 2:27 pm

And they should do it again for their own sake and the rest of New York too.

Edward August 27, 2014 - 8:53 pm

Why? What exactly does SI do that makes the rest of NYC suffer so?

Edward August 27, 2014 - 8:51 pm

Secede from NYC, not New York State. And although it was pure political theatre, it actually worked well for Staten Island in that the city was forced to stop ignoring 450,000 residents who always got the short end of the stick when it came to city services. Having grown up riding NYCTA buses on Staten Island that were 20+ years old and had been used/abused in the four other boroughs before being dumped on SI routes for the last few years of their lives, and having watched those buses break down with stunning regularity, I definitely saw a marked improvement in bus, rail and ferry service on the Island after the whole secession movement and election of Rudy Giuliani. The greasy wheel gets the oil, and SI finally learned how to yell loud enough to be heard in City Hall.

Chet August 27, 2014 - 9:22 pm

Thank you Edward.

As someone living on Staten Island since 1967, your words could not be more accurate.

A couple of story to confirm what it used to be like:

Sometime in the early/mid 1970s, there was some incredible rain or snowstorm, I don’t remember which- but some weather event that crippled the metro area. The local news outlets had reporters everywhere- four boroughs, the suburban counties- some two hours from Manhattan. NOT ONE WORD about Staten Island.

My mother became furious and called one of the stations- WABC TV I believe- she asked why are there no reporters on Staten Island. The first thing the person she was talking to said, “Oh, its snowing/raining there too?”

September 1980, I’m a freshman at Baruch College. In a freshman seminar, the senior student leading this thing says, “People come to Baruch from Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, and even as far as Staten Island.”

I interrupted and asked the group (about ten people) how many of them would take more than 30 minutes to get home. Several raised their hands. I said when this is over, I’ll get in my car and I’ll be home ON STATEN ISLAND in about a half hour. We are not somewhere west of Mars.

(Why did I drive? Because in the middle of the afternoon, express buses didn’t run back then, and the subway/ferry/bus to get home was about a 90 minute trek. Parking on the street by Gramercy Park was about 50 cents an hour.)

And Larry, as far trading us over to Jersey…forget it.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 10:05 pm

I doubt it got you jack shit, other than this lingering impression you’re seeing here that everyone in Staten Island is as petulant as your politicians. It just so happened that in the 1990s NYCTA finally began to get its act together enough to replace buses and start following a reasonable schedule of replacement. They weren’t exactly glorious in the other boroughs either.

Edward August 28, 2014 - 1:19 am

Well, it seems your dislike for Staten Island trumps any kind of reality, or adult discussion. Believe whatever you want, and keep repeating your silly requests that SI be traded to NJ as if an entire county of NYS is akin to a baseball player who can be bought and sold.

Staten Island has been a county of NY State since 1664, and it isn’t going anywhere

Bolwerk August 28, 2014 - 8:52 am

Uh, where did I make any such “requests”? And where did I say I didn’t like Staten Island?

“Reality” is I’m rather on your side on this issue. Talk of succession, expulsion, and annexation of Hudson County are all silly. But I also think Staten Island’s grievances are rather exaggerated, and I think the press gives too much play to the worst elements of the borough. This in turn leads to the kind of perennial resentment/kvetching about Staten Island that shows up on this blog time and again. I don’t know what you think they got you that you wouldn’t have gotten anyway, but the only lasting achievement of the referendum theatrics is that they didn’t much promote good feelings for SI for the other 7.5M New Yorkers.

Edward August 28, 2014 - 7:14 pm

“…the only lasting achievement of the referendum theatrics is that they didn’t much promote good feelings for SI for the other 7.5M New Yorkers.”

That’s a hoot. I suppose Manhattan and Brooklyn residents where just giddy in love with SI before the whole secession movement LOL. You also think the kvetching residents of Greenwich Village had nothing to do with the defeat of Robert Moses’ dream of Manhattan expressways ripping up tons of homes? If you’re a native NYer (are you?) then you know the biggest mouth is the one that gets heard in this town.

Bolwerk August 29, 2014 - 12:40 am

I don’t think most people thought much about it either way before, and I don’t think most do now because most people are over it. Still, you can’t deny there is some lingering animosity, especially for the people in their 30s and older who remember. What has that gotten you? Lower taxes? Modern transportation infrastructure*? Better schools? More favorable gerrymandering? Anything?

* this is from today…well, yesterday now

Ralfff August 29, 2014 - 3:18 am

Don’t want to perpetuate this debate but I will say one thing that is inarguably true re: Staten Island. The squeaky wheel got the grease. I just think that had less to do with an unenforceable secession vote than the election of Giuliani, since SI had tremendous leverage at the time.

Bolwerk August 29, 2014 - 10:20 am

But what did it get that it wouldn’t have gotten anyway? Seriously, nobody seems to know.

Michael August 29, 2014 - 12:01 pm

There is one other issue that is missing from this discussion – the demise of the NYC’s Board of Estimate, and the resulting creation of a stronger City Council. The 1990 City Charter change was due to a 1989 Supreme Court decision that eliminated the Board Of Estimate, a governing body that had ruled NYC for decades. On the Board of Estimate each of the borough presidents had equal powers, voting strength and representation. This made Staten Island (the city’s smallest borough by population) “equal” to Brooklyn (the city’s largest borough by population). The new City Council would result in a situation where Staten Island would only have about 3 representatives in the City Council out of 51 members, a very much smaller voice in city affairs.

Many Staten Island residents voted to succeed from New York City, due to a) the loss of political power, b) the recieving of all of New York City’s residential waste and trash in the world’s largest landfill, c) the then very high highway and bridge tolls and high transportation costs, and d) the sense that its needs were not being meet. While the succession movement did not succeed, many issues have been resolved, but timely transportation by ferry, express bus service, and crowded schools remain important concerns. The closing of the Fresh Kills Landfill, and the resulting need to re-configure trash removal policies & practices remain issues today. Many neighborhoods in the other four boroughs resent and resist the building or siting of waste transfer facilities seeming to prefer a time when all of the city’s trash was dumped on the smallest borough.

To some folks, all of this was just “political theater” – something of no real importance. I guess it is related that old saying concerning whose “ox gets gored”. If it is your ox, that’s bad, if it is my ox, then it is a god-awful catastrophe requiring nothing less than the intervention of the Greek, Norse, Muslim & Christian deities to rectify!

Bolwerk August 29, 2014 - 1:07 pm

Good points, but I think it is worse than theater. It probably actually harmed Staten Island in the long run.

Meanwhile, most of the “benefits” were things that, at least in hindsight, practically had to happen. The ferry? Charging for it doesn’t make a lot of sense with MetroCards. The landfill was probably doomed regardless, given modern waste management makes it less necessary and it probably wasn’t fair to put it there to begin with. Perhaps the secession vote sped up those processes, at most.

John-2 August 27, 2014 - 9:57 am

…especially when something like WMATA operates in three jurisdictions — Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia — without FRA oversight.

eo August 27, 2014 - 12:10 pm

No swaps, carve the state of NJ into two halves and give one to each New York and Pennsylvania. The administrative borders are definitely the cause of many disparities in the regions around NYC and Philadelphia. Unfortunately it would never happen — there are enough people who benefit from the differences to make the NO vote prevail.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 2:46 pm

I think the Democrats might not like the loss of two Senate votes from that move. Maybe you could attach it to splitting California in half to keep the Senate at stasis.

marv August 27, 2014 - 2:55 pm

State are artificial creation whose time has passed.

Back when created, basic communication between say Boston and Richmond took days. Travel between them was a journey. Business was localized. The divisions served a function and made sense.

Now communication (including visual) is instantanious, travel is fast and business is world wide. States no longer make sense and the 50 tax codes serve just us accountants!! (Yes I said “us”.)

People in cities across the country have more in common with each other than those living but 100 miles from them in the suburbs.

A real reorganization would serve this country well including a reduction from the current 50 fiefdoms.

Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 12:34 pm

Yeah — a full administrative reorg of the US won’t happen until the next revolution, though, and probably not even then. Probably beyond my lifetime.

Michael August 27, 2014 - 3:59 am

The cynic in me just can not resist the idea that Governor Chris Chrisie with his financial doings at the George Washington Bridge, Port Authority efforts diverted to projects outside its usual scope, the spending of Hurricane Sandy recovery money on places that suffered least instead of in places that suffered more because of the political votes of their elected politicians or the voters, the shuffling of funds for highways and other projects, his stacking of folks at the Port Authority, the huge cost increases for security personnel, and the whole World Trade Center mess, the Governor’s attempts at getting back at political rivals in his state, and his own state government finance issues – in not somehow involved. Maybe I am a cynic, but I really do not think that this issue is a “purely academic” exercise.

Just notice how that the PATH system is described as is “woefully inefficient” in this right-wing politcal context of today – the language is interesting, and to me, suspect. Remember Governor Chris wants to run for president, and the right-wing loves to characterize government services as “wasteful”, “inefficient”, “un-needed”, etc. Such themes are in the standard playbook of Republicans, do not kind yourself.

Just my thoughts.

Chris C August 27, 2014 - 6:37 am

My response to those criticisms (from whatever direction they come from) that government services are wasteful and inefficient is

‘what would you do to make it more efficient and provide a better more economic service and more importantly why haven’t you done it yet?’

Eric August 27, 2014 - 8:24 am

Privatize it, and the magic of the free market will solve all problems 🙂

More seriously, the “magic” of the free market happens when you make many competing providers, and all but the most efficient ones go out of business. There is only one tunnel from NJ to Lower Manhattan, which is most easily managed by one operator, so competition does not make much sense. So the free market does not make much sense here. You could request bids for different operators to run the system every 5 years or so, but this introduces only a very low level of competition. None of this detracts from the power of the free market when competition IS possible (and private companies do not receive public subsidies, like being allowed to spew their pollution into the environment without cost).

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 9:03 am

“Chris Chrisie with his financial doings at the George Washington Bridge”

The supposed scandal involved closure of access lanes from Fort Lee. It wasn’t financial.

“Port Authority efforts diverted to projects outside its usual scope”

Yes, since it was founded before Christie was born. See World Trade Center, located in New York.

“the shuffling of funds for highways and other projects, his stacking of folks at the Port Authority,

“the huge cost increases for security personnel”

Mainly at World Trade Center, in New York, with security emphasis hardly crazy in the context of the Port which was directly attacked on 9/11, and in any event with security emphasis pre-dating Christie.

“and the whole World Trade Center mess”

Which has what to do with Christie?

“the Governor’s attempts at getting back at political rivals in his state, and his own state government finance issues”

Totally relevant to PATH and totally unique to Christie.

“in not somehow involved. Maybe I am a cynic, but I really do not think that this issue is a “purely academic” exercise.”

I don’t think cynic is the word I would use to describe you at all.

Michael August 28, 2014 - 9:29 am

I realized that I made a couple of spelling mistakes.

Just notice how that the PATH system is described as is “woefully inefficient” in this right-wing politcal context of today – the language is interesting, and to me, suspect. Remember Governor Chris wants to run for president, and the right-wing loves to characterize government services as “wasteful”, “inefficient”, “un-needed”, etc. Such themes are in the standard playbook of Republicans, do not KID yourself.

Ian MacAllen August 27, 2014 - 10:26 am

Technically, the Port Authority is a private corporation. The stakeholders are the states of New York and New jersey.

Roy August 27, 2014 - 10:53 am

No it isn’t. It’s a multi-state public agency chartered by an interstate compact, using rights granted to states by the US Constitution, but which had never previously been invoked.

As their website says:
“The Port Authority is a financially self-supporting public agency that relies almost entirely on revenues generated by facility users, tolls, fees and rents. We receive no tax revenue from NY, NJ or NYC.”


“The Port Authority was the nation’s first bistate agency. It reports to the governors of New York and New Jersey, who each appoint six commissioners to the Board.”

There are countries in which public transit IS organized like you said, with a state (or city or whatever) owned corporation, but if this were the case it would almost certainly have “Corporation” in its name, rather than “Authority”.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 11:13 am

It technically is a corporation, but not a private one.

(At least in NYS and probably most of the USA, I’m pretty sure any government unit that isn’t sovereign is technically a corporation.)

Roy August 27, 2014 - 11:48 am

As I understand it, there is a distinction between subdivisions of sovereign entities (i.e. states) and between corporations, and the “interstate governmental agency” is an oddball that is lumped in with governmental subdivisions despite falling under more than one sovereign body.

For example, see this definition on a federal web site (http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs7.htm):

“State and local government employers consist of those entities that are defined as public agencies by the FLSA. “Public Agency” is defined to mean the Government of the United States; the government of a State or political subdivision thereof; any agency of the United States, a State, or a political subdivision of a State; or any interstate governmental agency. The public agency definition does not extend to private companies that are engaged in work activities normally performed by public employees.”

It is true that under the absolute broadest definition of “corporation” (see para 6. http://legal-dictionary.thefre.....orporation), even a national government would qualify, but the common understanding definitely excludes them.

Needless to say, this argument has no practical value, but I’d still be quite interested to see any source that gives a better answer.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 12:26 pm

I think you’re probably right that you can broaden or narrow the definition. But under NYS law “authorities,” presumably including the PA, are public benefit corporations. Pretty much every other government below the state government lively is probably considered a municipal corporation. Counties might be an exception, since they’re more administrative divisions of the state itself, but even this is a gray area compounded by the fact that there are chartered counties which have more home rule.

Another possible way to look at it might be that corporations are created/recognized by a sovereign (e.g., NYS, the Queen of the UK, whatever) with a certain measure of independence. IIRC the French Republic creates provinces this way, altering or disposing of them at will; in this sense, they might be somewhat “corporate.” OTOH U.S. and German states are themselves sovereign members of a constituent federation, which itself has some but not absolute sovereignty itself, and can’t simply be altered or disposed of by the federal government.

Roy August 27, 2014 - 1:14 pm

What I wasn’t quite sure about was, due to the PANYNJ being chartered via an interstate compact requiring congressional approval, how it relates to the two states in terms of law.

I’m still a bit unclear about that, but I did find the text of the original compact, and the language definitely suggests a public benefit corporation:

There is hereby created “The Port of New York Authority” (for brevity hereinafter referred to as the “Port Authority” ), which shall be a body corporate and politic, having the powers and jurisdiction hereinafter enumerated, and such other and additional powers as shall be conferred upon it by the Legislature of either State concurred in by the Legislature of the other, or by Act or Acts of Congress, as hereinafter provided. On and after July 1, 1972, the Port Authority shall be known and designated as “The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.”


Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 12:36 pm

Bolwerk: you’re using the old definition of corporation. A “body corporate”. Even the federal government is a “body corporate”. The United Way is a corporation by this definition, and so is the Red Cross.

Most people nowadays use “corporation” to mean “for-profit corporation organized under the corproate charter laws”.

Bolwerk August 28, 2014 - 12:59 pm

I know, but there is still a massive body of law with regard to municipal and, at least in NYS, public benefit corporations.

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 1:18 pm

The nation’s second bi-state agency.


I wonder what’s up with that one? Generally when no one is paying attention, the non-news is not good.

Michael K August 28, 2014 - 9:25 am

With the amount they collect in tickets and parking fees, it is definitely going SOMEWHERE, because that park looks dilapidated.

Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 12:37 pm

Well, it seems to have done well at preventing quarries in the Palisades, its original function…

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 11:09 am

An agency or private company can own the facilities and charge private operators to use them. It’s probably more the norm in the rest of the world, with mainline railroads in Europe and even urban transit in Asia. IIRC, the German tactic is to have a holding company or subsidiary own or lease the tracks and charge everyone, including the owner, a market price. For instance, Deutsche Bahn is a profitable private company mostly owned by the state. It has a subsidiary called DB Netze that sells use of facilities to operators, including other railroads.

Nothing inherently wrong with such an arrangement, but it has every bit the potential for waste as a government-run agency with the added threat of higher financing costs due to greater financial risk.

eo August 27, 2014 - 12:18 pm

And the private operator will go bankrupt in zero time. You cannot privatize rail and still subsidize roads — unless all the roads are privatized and subsidized at zero you cannot do just privatize rail and hope it does well. This is the original reason why the railroads went down by the middle of last century. What is left now is an oligopoly with major geographical monopolies allowing them to make money of greatly curtailed networks. In reality, the mainline routes are the only profitable ones, the others are being kept until the bridges and the other right of way structures fail and then abandoned.

Chris C August 27, 2014 - 2:33 pm

Well it worked so well here in the UK – NOT ! We spend more subsidising some of the private operators than was spent on the old British Rail.

On the East Coast route TWO private operators handed their franchises back because they lost money yet the state run operation that had to take it over makes millions for the tax-payer (yet the current government wants to re-franchise it back to the private sector)

There is very little competition on the railways – despite what we were told in the early 1990’s that one company would provide fast trains for the businessman whilst another would provide slower, cheaper services for his secretary (as one Minister put it)

The ‘managed contract’ does appear to work well and both the DLR and the London Overground are operated by private contractors working to a detailed and rigorous contract with service standards and specifications and incentives but TFL retains all the income.

When cross rail opens it will also be on the same basis.

lawhawk August 27, 2014 - 8:15 am

It’s hilarious watching PATH officials blame the high costs on the FRA, and that they require things like checking brakes and other steps at the end of each run as inflating the costs to two and a half times that of the MTA or other nearby subway/rail systems.

And then there’s the claims (unsupported of course) that union costs are behind the high costs.

That clearly doesn’t come close to explaining why. Safety checks and increased maintenance costs (which should actually be going down since the PATH is operating all-new fleet of cars that are far more reliable and dependable than the old cars that were 40+ years old). Something else is going on.

How much of this is the costs that riders see (operators/conductors) and how much of this is the result of a bloated bureaucracy?

Is this including the building/rebuilding of the WTC PATH hub, Exchange Place and Harrison projects (capital projects)?

Given that the PANY isn’t transparent on its budget to the same extent as other public agencies, demanding better transparency would have to be part of any solution by determining where the problems are.

Only then can you figure out what the fix could be.

It would have to be multi-pronged approach. Lifting the FRA requirements would help, but the long term plan should be to integrate the PATH into MTA operations, where you’d get economies of scale. NJT wouldn’t give the economy of scale and you’d be integrating different systems.

It would take the concerted effort of NY and NJ delegations to get the FRA to issue the waivers for PATH to operate without needing the FRA approvals. Would riders even notice the difference? Doubtful. Doubt that they know FRA is involved at all. FTA regulation is sufficient for subway operations, and should be for PATH operations.

Pulling PATH from the PANY would also mean that PANY would be able to devote more of its revenues to its bridges and crossings and other critical projects. That would allow the agency to work on its backlog of projects that need to be addressed – including the PABT.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 8:52 am

PATH actually has lower operating expenses per passenger-mile than NYCTA. It’s capital costs that are crazy.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 9:07 am

I was wondering about that. If they lump in capital costs is it really an apples-to-apples comparison? Of course transit agencies have a history of tagging as capital stuff that is really more along the lines of handling ordinary course depreciation. Replacement of rolling stock is a completely predictable, necessary expense, and not really “capital” in the sense of extending a line or building a new one, but it gets lumped in with system expansion anyway. Probably makes more sense to include depreciation expense with operating costs, which would give a clearer picture of what it takes to keep a system going.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 10:08 am

I doubt it’s that simple. They probably have to follow GAAP, or at least some old variation of GAAP, and don’t have much say in how the accounting looks. I think the way the capital line works is they take all their capital charges for a single year (basically add all the amortized costs up) and report them as capital expenses. If it depreciates, it’s by definition a capital expense. Rolling stock is practically a textbook example. You don’t use it only in the year you buy it, but over the course of a long service life.

You’re right that “capital” includes a lot of projects that probably have fairly little to do with each other, and some are predictable or regular and some are not. When you need new rail cars or buses is probably almost like clockwork. OTOH, a station creation/expansion or ROW development is probably a one-off project that never happens again. And Sandy probably introduced plenty of surprise capital expenses.

I’d betcha the glaring capital expense with PATH is the WTC Hub!

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 9:31 am

I don’t know where you get your data, but it isn’t so.


For operating costs it’s 30 cents per passenger mile for the subway, 60 cents for PATH.

It’s $2.80 per unlinked trip for PATH, and $1.30 for the subway, even though the PATH is a small, high-density network like Hong Kong.

More to the point, it’s an average of $63.40 per employee work hour for the subway, $86 for the LIRR with its featherbedding and disability corruption, and $108 for the PATH. New Jersey Transit is $76.9.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 10:20 am

Oops, yeah, I fucked up. I compared rather old operating costs/psg-mi by agency rather than by mode. My fault for doing calculations before having morning coffee. 🙁

Should have gone to The Bible:

PATH operating expense per passenger-mile: $0.92

NYCTA rail: $0.36 (buses really drag NYCTA down)

My bad!

Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 12:40 pm

PATH really isn’t transparent, so it’s very hard to figure out what the heck is inflating the operating costs.

I looked through the employee titles a while back. PATH has an *astounding* number of people in job titles which sound like they’re variations on “dispatcher”. Far, far more than you’d expect for such a small system.

There’s also a disproportionate number of people in “maintenance” positions, compared to other transit systems. (Though comparing that to NYC Subway isn’t fair, because NYC Subway is clearly understaffed on maintenance.)

Bolwerk August 28, 2014 - 1:03 pm

Wasn’t I the one who posted that to you? It’s a pivot table generated from public records.

I agree though. Over a thousand positions seems pretty nuts for, what, 12 miles of route?

marv August 27, 2014 - 8:24 am

Failing to connect PATH (WTC) to the #6 was a major loss to the region. PATH is but a small subway (really a small part of the NYC transit system) and should not be treated like a railroad subject to (costly!!!) FRA.

AG August 27, 2014 - 10:22 pm

Yeah – it was pretty stupid. That’s what happens when politics are involved.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 9:17 am

“PATH’s cost issue is clearly not sustainable, but it can operate with some level of subsidy.”

I’m not sure that it’s unsustainable. Whether the level of subsidy can be sustained strikes me as a purely political question. There is a pathological anti-Christie bias out there that has been taken out on the NJ-centric subset of PA operations for the past few years. Christie will depart the NJ scene soon enough, and I imagine that PATH subsidies will become at that point as uninteresting to the press as they were during the 30 years prior to CC being governor.

PATH would benefit from being expanded to dilute operating costs among a larger pool of ridership, but it does not appear that any system expansion is in the cards. Ridership should grow, however, anyway as Jersey City continues its breakneck expansion and the lower Manhattan office market returns to pre 9/11 scale with the WTC build out.

Also, note that the PATH system will experience a scheduled fare hike in October.

BenW August 27, 2014 - 11:03 am

So here’s the question for you, Eric: stipulated for the moment that Christie-obsession is a thing and is driving some of the coverage, is it therefore a good thing that PATH has operating costs (vide supra) that are three times NYCTA’s, for a basically identical service? At some point, New York and New Jersey taxpayers are, implicitly or explicitly, making up that difference—why is the fact that it’s not Chris Christie’s fault (on which, for once, I think I agree with you) significant to the question of whether or not an $8 per passenger-ride subsidy is a problem?

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 12:36 pm

I envision an editorial cartoon where a guy looks terrified at a tiny dog yipping at his feet that is labeled “PATH subsidies” while he ignores what is behind him: a monster the size of a house labeled “World Trade Center”. WTC subsidies blow away the PATH stuff, but WTC is NY-centric, and so can’t easily be pinned on Christie. WTC has been the impetus for the insane toll hikes and fiscal melt down at the PA over the past few years. PATH operating subsidies have been pretty much stable over time, i.e., there’s nothing really new here. It’s no more bad now than it was in 2006 or 1996 or 1986. If anything, I’d imagine that the growth in the fare paying population of Hudson County should be benefiting the system.

As for cutting PATH costs, ok, fine with me, but I don’t have a particularly informed sense of how to do that apart from the obvious one, which is eliminating overnight service. People depend on that service though, and cutting it would go over like a lead balloon.

Benjamin Kabak August 27, 2014 - 12:41 pm

I know you think everything is about an attack on Gov. Christie but the panels tasked with reviewing Port Authority operations have been even more critical of the WTC rebuilding. It’s been covered to death elsewhere. There’s not much more to say about it.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 12:50 pm

I think that’s the real source of the PA’s problems though. The soft corruption of the various slush funds, over-subsidies and revenue diversions are the same as they ever were. I don’t like them either, but this is how public authorities work. Go on the NYS Thruway website where on the front page equal space is given to the Erie Canal that was foisted on the Thruway authority to divert toll revenue to a money losing dinosaur (though very cool, go for a ride through the locks some time, it’s fun). Such is the way of the world.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 12:53 pm

Yet NYCTA, the rail division anyway, and MNRR are fairly efficient operations. LIRR and PATH are not.

I think you’re painting with too broad a brush.

Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 12:41 pm

We can’t really stop operating the Erie Canal; it’s become a critical part of the flood control system. It’s silly to have it in the Thruway Authority, but it works OK.

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 9:22 am

New Jersey likes to get things but not pay for them, so dumping this cost on the subway and its riders is typical of a solution it would proposed. A better solution would be to look at the costs themselves.

Do PATH employees receive pay and benefits that are similar to NYCT, which are already richer than most people get (which is why there is always an excess of applicants for its jobs)? Or are they paid far more, like the LIRR and MetroNorth, for the same work?

Someone indicated here that they are burying the cost of all those Port Authority police and their pensions on the PATH.

Then there are economics of scale. PATH doesn’t have them.

I’ll again ask if PATH trains could be modified to run on NYCT third rail and voltage also, and if there is a place on 6th Avenue line where a switch could be installed between the PATH and the 6th Avenue local? If so, major maintenance for the PATH fleet could be done up at 207th Street, and handling the extra cars with the same staff could be the Car Equipment productivity gain for the next decade.

The NYPD has 2.8 times the officers, relative to population, as the national average, and more than just about any other city. Taking over the role of the Port Authority police in NY, having the NJ state police do so in NJ, and making the Port Authority police go “poof” would save a lot of money.

If PATH operators make more than NYCT operators, New Jersey could pay NYCT to take over. In fact if NJ takes over the net cost, the PATH could be given free transfers to the subway.


John-2 August 27, 2014 - 10:06 am

You’d be kind of in the same position here as with a proposed 7 line extension to Secaucus — If there wasn’t a state boundary it probably would have been done decades ago. But since there is, all the legalities, subsidies and cross-border responsibilities have to be worked out to the long-term satisfaction of both sides.

That’s a tall order to process, especially since neither side trusts each other very much, and even if the MTA could get an FRA waiver, odds are PATH’s workers would sue and/or strike before they agreed to fall under the control of the TWU and face possible cuts in their wage/compensation packages.

Nyland8 August 27, 2014 - 10:14 pm

“That’s a tall order to process, especially since neither side trusts each other very much, and even if the MTA could get an FRA waiver, odds are PATH’s workers would sue and/or strike before they agreed to fall under the control of the TWU and face possible cuts in their wage/compensation packages.”

Let them strike. They’d be out of a job. And they can’t sue. The employees of PATH do not get to decide who owns and operates them. If it is decided by the powers that be in Albany and Trenton that PATH be subsumed into the MTA, then they can either take what they’re offered, or go looking for work elsewhere. It’s reasonable to expect that enough of them would want to keep their jobs that they could be training MTA employees to run their little subway in the first week of acquisition.

As for the “state boundaries” and “cross-border responsibilities” , they are a non-issue. NJTransit and MetroNorth (the MTA) have been co-operating the Pascack Valley and Port Jervis lines for decades, and NJTransit runs its trains into NYPenn Station every day, all without so much as a passing nod to the Port Authority. The only thing keeping the 7 Line – or for that matter, the L Line – from running out to Lautenberg, is a lack of vision and political will. The state line drawn down the center of the Hudson means nothing.

The FRA should easily give up the PATH … but if they won’t, then the MTA can acquire it is as a “C” Division, file for bankruptcy immediately, stop running it, and let the FRA take the heat for shutting it down. Whatever waivers are required would be signed within the week.

Larry Greenfield August 27, 2014 - 10:33 pm

I like your thinking.

sonicboy678 August 28, 2014 - 9:11 am

D Division; there’s already a C Division.

Nyland8 August 28, 2014 - 10:04 am

Who gives a shit what you call it? Call it a “Z” Division for all I care. Make the C Division the D Division and call the ex-PATH the C Division. The point is only that it is distinct from both the A & B Divisions because it has to be – for a number of obvious reasons – not the least of which are the dimensions of the cars.

But I think that in light of the operating cost revelations, it’s time for New Jersey, New York, and the Port Authority to admit that the PA’s little subway would run far more efficiently as part of the NYC subway system. All of the redundant and bloated middle and upper management jobs that add to the extreme cost disparity between the two systems can disappear with a few swipes of a pen.

What remains of the PATH can be better managed under the MTA;

The Port Authority can pay off, buy out, or otherwise reabsorb there own fat;

Future capital and expansion projects can begin to reflect a broader, more regional view;

Taxpayers and ratepayers can get more bang for their buck;

The economy of scale can also further reduce PATH operating costs;

The PA can refocus on the core business for which it was founded – namely operating a world class port in what is arguably among the most important urban areas on the planet;

The bridge and tunnel users whose rising tolls subsidize this grotesque monstrosity get relief;

Bloated bureaucrats lose; political patronage loses; bad planners and sweetheart contractors lose;

The Port Authority wins; New York wins; New Jersey wins;

The only question that should remain is: Will we be having the same discussion a year from now when the situation will still be exactly the same, and nothing will have been done about it?

Contact Trenton. Contact Albany. Contact Cuomo. Contact Christie. Contact Washington D.C.

Let’s get the ball rolling!

marv August 28, 2014 - 10:22 am

A determination should be made as to which lines can completely give up freight and those lines (on both sides of the hudson) should become part of a Greater NY Passenger Only Authority and should be removed from FRA with costs reduced and service increased. I would look to include the Far Rockaway and West Hempstead Branches of the LIRR which i would operate through Jamaica to Flatbush Avenue and the Port Washington line which I would operate via the excess capacity of the upper level 63rd Street tunnel and then via 2nd Avenue to 34th Street (stage 3 of the 2nd Ave Subway).

All passenger lines sharing freight tracks should be merged (LIRR/Metro North and NJ transit portions feeding into NYC and Hoboken. Long term planning should be done to transition to one electrical system (start now and finish in 50+ years) with interim dual/triple dual power and through routings.

Tunnels and Bridges should then be combined into another division with the Port Authority left with the Ports including the Airports.

Obviously formulas for revenue sharing etc would need to be negotiated between states, authorities and bond holders.

Larry Greenfield August 28, 2014 - 5:35 pm

Much of this is workable, with commuter rail and subway in the NYC area merged under the MTA and the Port Authority out of that business (assuming they give up the small operation in Queens to JFK too). What’s left, though, is the problem of good rail access from Manhattan to the airports in Queens, something we need desperately, and something the Port Authority hasn’t done at all. Hopefully the realignment of the agencies will lead to solutions there too.

AG August 29, 2014 - 5:06 pm

Why would the PA give up Airtrain? Unless they are going to have their costs recouped then it makes no sense to give it up. Who is going to run it? The MTA? Why would they want a little stub that is separate from their system? Taking over the PATH makes sense since that is essentially a subway system. AirTrain is different.

Also – you can’t blame the PA for lack of airport access. They wanted a one seat ride between lower Manhattan and JFK – but the funds were diverted once Pataki left office. Also – the plan for LGA was the MTA’s. The PA is planning to extend PATH to Newark Airport. They won’t be able to touch a potential “Airtrain” at LGA until that is completed. The PA has many faults – but not having rail to the airports is not their fault.

Bolwerk August 29, 2014 - 9:38 pm

Automated routes like the AirTrain is the type of thing the MTA should be building anyway, maybe sans the proprietary stuff. The operating costs are very low.

I actually don’t see why they shouldn’t run it. They do a better job operating transportation than the PA.

AG August 30, 2014 - 12:46 pm

True – but at it’s heart the Air Train is an airport circulator… The airports are run by the PA.

Bolwerk August 30, 2014 - 1:28 pm

It is, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be more than an airport circulator. First of all, it should go to LGA. But if it goes to go to LGA, it may as well make a few stops in Queens, and therefore may as well offer transit to some people who don’t care about going to the airport. It certainly has the capacity, and it’s the same system used in Vancouver for their metro.

marv August 31, 2014 - 10:11 am

A JFK-LGA train would allow reliable (time predictable) transfers between airports and the LGA terminals would then become terminals 9/10/11 or the new LGA/JFK airport. Adding local stops for alternating trains would better link Queens with the two airport located here and provided some train service to areas currently with out it. Given that Flushing is hub for northern Queens, Nassau and the Bronx and Jamaica for southeast Queens and much of Long Island a connection between the two would be positive and would provide possible emergency transit alternatives.

Fare structure, fare collection mechanism, and division of operating shortfalls would all have to be worked out.e

Such a train could have two routs:
1)Kennedy terminals, Citifield (providing parking and shared car rentals), LGA terminals

The actual rail would be the existing JFK airtrain and then new construction elevated over the Van Wyck/Port Washington LIRR tracks and the Grand Central Parkway.

Originally the Airtrain was envisioned to go from JFK to LGA and then into Manhattan.

Larry Greenfield August 30, 2014 - 6:24 am

It just makes sense for the organization with the most experience in rail to plan and run all the rail and the organization with the most experience in facilities to plan and run the facilities. The missions of each agency are determined by the politicians and can be reordered. Clearly that’s long overdue in light of recent events. Once that’s done priorities can be set and airport access plans can proceed absent the overlapping missions.

AG August 30, 2014 - 12:52 pm

AirTrain JFK and Newark are strictly to serve the airports. So their mission is what the PA does. Running the subway to La Guardia – like PATH to Newark would certainly make sense for the MTA to run. As to JFK it would be “nice” if the subways ran to JFK and the Air Train only had to connect to the LIRR. Then again – if those subway lines next to Jamaica ran to JFK then there would have not Air Train. It would have been cheaper to since you would have only had to pay a subway fare to transfer from LIRR. Then the PA could have just run a cheaper monorail to go to each terminal. Alas – it’s not what we have now. I’m all for the MTA taking over PATH – but at this stage it just doesn’t make sense for Air Train I don’t think. Circulating people throughout terminals would not be an MTA function – so how would that work?

AG August 28, 2014 - 4:44 pm

I agree totally.

Larry Greenfield August 28, 2014 - 5:18 pm

I really like your thinking.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 10:45 am

“New Jersey likes to get things but not pay for them”

That’s an off-putting statement that in any event would apply equally to every jurisdiction on Earth.

BenW August 27, 2014 - 10:59 am

To be fair, Larry does in fact frequently apply that sentiment to just about everybody. 🙂

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 11:23 am

Except NYC, which for some reason often seems to want to pay for things but not get them. Or at least its politicians seem to think that way, since they figure they’ve got NYers in their pockets and need to pander elsewhere.

Alon Levy August 27, 2014 - 8:08 pm

Except NYC, which for some reason often seems to want to pay for things but not get them.


Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 11:19 am

Not every jurisdiction on Earth, but probably every jurisdiction in orbit around NYC.

Larry Greenfield August 27, 2014 - 9:24 am

PATH’s 90 day maintenance cycle does not explain the difference in costs compared to NYCT’s maintenance cycle of 10,000 miles or 66 days (whichever comes first). I’d be very curious to see a true apples-to-apples comparison.

JJJJ August 27, 2014 - 10:05 am

PATH trains have a driver AND a door person right? Theres a ton of costs right there.

They also have unnecessary operations that seem to be put together to maximize employees needed.

On weekends, one train goes from 33rd to Journal Square via 5 minute stop at Hoboken.
And then a second train does Newark-Harrison-Journal Square.


Ian MacAllen August 27, 2014 - 10:22 am

Its an effort to save money. In the mid-2000s after service was restored to the World Trade Center, the PATH ran 7am to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday a normal train schedule. This was changed in order to cut costs on the number of trains and to save money at the World Trade Center construction site. Its cheaper not to run the trains through an active construction site and the Port Authority prioritized construction over providing service.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 10:46 am

That was a “temporary” change. Also, the 100 Years War was temporary.

Tower18 August 27, 2014 - 1:54 pm

I did always wonder about that. Especially now while there is no weekend WTC service, why is there not just one train doing 33-NWK? Surely the labor cost of staffing multiple trains outweighs the small number (if any) of additional trains that would be required to run a full route without the break at JSQ.

Didn’t NYCT find the same thing when they split the R train? They actually needed MORE trains to run a split schedule than a combined one.

sonicboy678 August 27, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Probably; however, the R split makes sense because of the higher weekday ridership requiring more trains in general while said trains have nowhere to go without considerable interference.

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 2:42 pm

“PATH trains have a driver AND a door person right?”

So does the subway.

BoerumHillScott August 27, 2014 - 12:09 pm

The last time I really dug into the numbers, what really jumped out at me is the percentage of PATH operating costs that went to security.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 12:40 pm

They took (and are taking) a 100 year+ system and wiring it with security cameras out the wazoo, hardening the tunnels under the Hudson, etc. Must be frightfully expensive. Try re-wiring a house built in 1920, let alone a system with claustrophobia-induing tunnels built when Theodore Roosevelt was president.

Eric F August 27, 2014 - 1:00 pm

And, replying to my own comment, it’s really too bad. There are so many useful projects that were planned for PATH from 10 car trains, to the airport extension, to Grove Street rebuild that are either never happening or that simply won’t happen for decades that would add a lot of value for the ridership. I take it that the security stuff is necessary but the money has to come from somewhere.

Bolwerk August 27, 2014 - 1:22 pm

Heh, that’s old school patronage. Seriously, how often do you see or hear of security staff doing something useful? Now and then they catch something, but most of the time they spend walled up somewhere out of reach of actual problems.

The best security comes from having people around.

Nathanael August 28, 2014 - 3:45 pm

Schmuckurity. Do you really think this security stuff is doing any good? I doubt it.

Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 2:15 pm

That’s not an operating cost, however. The data quoted is operating costs.

And in any event the Feds picked up all those capital costs, and Sandy rebuilding.

lop August 27, 2014 - 3:45 pm

The fed picks up capital costs? Interest expenses for 2013 was 114 million, up from 42 in 2004. Is none of that from capital expenses?


Larry Littlefield August 27, 2014 - 10:05 pm

I was referring to the post 9/11 security capital costs. The Feds picked up those.

lawhawk August 28, 2014 - 9:09 am

After the 9/11 attacks, the Hudson tubes to Lower Manhattan were flooded out and needed to be gut-rehabbed. The PANY ended up doing what they’re doing now in the Montague tubes – tearing down the conduit and rebuilding with brand new gear from the ballast on up. After Sandy, they’ve had to do additional work due to the salt water corrosion issues, but the most recent work on the tubes deals with storm proofing at the portals to both ends of the tunnels – they are going to be doing some kind of storm doors.

So, these have already been rewired at least once in the past 15 years – from the ground up. The signal systems are also in line for a full-system upgrade to run more trains per hour.

The PANY has been rebuilding the conduit vaults along the entire length of their underground system (back when they had the old cars, you could stand up at the front or rear of the train set and see the work in progress – nightly tear downs and rebuilds of stretches of tunnel conduit. It was fascinating to watch in progress.

tacony August 27, 2014 - 2:24 pm

I don’t for a second believe that FRA mandates are the primary reason PATH costs so much money to run. Can’t believe they get away with saying that.

Rob August 28, 2014 - 3:08 pm

Anyone have any brilliant ideas? OPTO


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