Home PANYNJ PA tables far-fetched idea to cut overnight PATH service

PA tables far-fetched idea to cut overnight PATH service

by Benjamin Kabak

I don’t mean to come across as overly cynically about the whole PATH train saga that’s unfolded since 11 p.m. on Saturday, December 26th. I have numerous friends in Jersey City and Hoboken who were very upset that Gov. Chris Christie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had even pondered cutting overnight service to Manhattan. But the announcement today by the New Jersey legislature that the Port Authority will not cut PATH service is being greeted as a grand victory when it is ultimately just the end of a political saga orchestrated by Christie and Cuomo to take attention away from the fact that they are against real and legislated reform at the Port Authority.

The big news came early on Wednesday morning when, after over two weeks of hand-wringing, the New Jersey Legislative Democrats announced victory. The Garden State’s Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto had secured assurances that PATH is “tabling indefinitely” any plans to scale back overnight PATH service. “Port Authority reform was never supposed to be about cutting vital rail services for hard-working residents,” Prieto, who represents Hudson and Bergen Counties, said in a statement. “This was a bad idea from the start and I’m glad to see it set aside. I thank Chairman Degnan for his cooperation and look forward to focusing on actual reform efforts.”

Since this morning, the coverage has been positively gloating, and for Jersey City residents, rightly so. But as numerous pieces claimed that the “plan to cut overnight PATH service” was now off the table, it seemed to be me to be a story that had overshadowed the news. As I’ve said before, the PATH cuts weren’t the story. The idea appeared as a three-paragraph entry in a massive report with various ideas to reform Port Authority. It wasn’t designed to be implemented, but it was designed to steal headlines. (That is, as I wrote, part of Christie’s M.O. in running a story.)

Some of the news pieces that stemmed from the New Jersey announcement noted how far-fetched the PATH cut proposal was. Larry Higgs spoke with numerous New Jersey transit advocates who all admitted the idea was dead in the water, and Port Authority officials essentially told Higgs as much. Matt Chaban in The Times noted how the PATH train idea distracts from the governors’ vetoes. That’s an important point too as it’s unclear if New Jersey or New York will try to override these vetoes to enact reforms at Port Authority with teeth. While Christie and Cuomo’s report may contain some good ideas, without legislation, the promises are empty ones.

Ultimately, though, the Port Authority sort of hedged even as the PATH cuts remain dead for now. In his letter announcing the withdrawal [pdf], PA Chairman John Degnan said that the PA has “tabled” the issue and would consult with local officials and the public before enacting any such cuts. It at least keeps the story alive and the door open for cuts at some point. Meanwhile, as the news cycle has ended with regards to PATH, Christie and Cuomo had turn their backs on real reform without further legislative action. While New Jersey residents certainly won, so too did politicians who had even more to lose from Port Authority reform.

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Larry Greenfield January 15, 2015 - 4:02 am

Just one more reason to get rid of the PA and give its major functions to the MTA.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 12:13 am

Maybe New Jerseyans like things just the way they are with PATH and the PA bus terminals. No competing with New Yorkers for service.

Larry Greenfield January 17, 2015 - 5:48 am

But PATH is run by a joint New York and New Jersey agency.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 9:33 am

And when New York tries to grab all the money, which happens fairly frequently, the governor of New Jersey can veto the minutes of the PA that’s giving all the money to New York and New York doesn’t get anything. New York has learned to play nice with New Jersey. How many New Jerseyans get on PATH or use a bus that terminates at the the PABT to get to work in Manhattan and they pay income taxes and sales taxes on their lunch, everyday? Their demands on municipal services are a few flushes and since they are healthy enough to work, light demands on the emergency services. No demands on the education system, the welfare system or even garbage collection because their boss pays for a private hauler through the rent.
…State Controllers office estimates 5 billion dollars a year in income tax revenue from people who don’t live in New York. Mostly New Jerseyans and Connecticuters.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 3:21 pm

Huh? I can’t think of many things the PA does that benefit NYS and not New Jersey as much or more. There is no NYS equivalent of the PA controlling Atlantic City’s airport.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 5:10 pm

Stewart Airport is also outside of the jurisdiction of the PA and the PA administers that. Administering the Atlantic City Airport is tit-for-tat for doing that. That makes it three airports in New Jersey and three in New York. Newark Teterboro and Atlantic City in New Jersey and JFK, LaGuardia and Stewart in New York.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 6:31 pm

Stewart is actually in a logical place for people who live within or near PA jurisdiction. Whether it does the job well or not, at least the logic was it’s a regional relief airport for three other very busy airports. Teterboro rightfully has a role in that jurisdiction too. Atlantic City? No. It was Christie sticking his sausage fingers in a cookie jar that doesn’t belong to him. The PATH extension to Newark is not much better for the little good it does the region.

Airports are loud, nasty, and space-hungry anyway. Necessary evils they may be, but if there is a penis length contest to to be had about it, it should be about trying to foist as many airports as possible on the other party.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 7:39 pm

Stewart Airport was palmed off onto the Port Authority because it was bleeding red ink and probably will still leed red ink after the PA takes it over. When Stewart Airport was carved out of the forest airplanes were much smaller.

The PA is swimming in cash from the really high tolls they charge to cross the Hudson and that Stewart bleeds red ink isn’t a problem for the PA. And they have an incentive to divert traffic there. The six flights a day from there to Florida frees up slots at Newark. Not because it is a great idea in 2015. It was marginal when Rocky saw it as another vanity project. When the Air Force base closed it should have closed. Or when the the Air Force Academy opened in Colorado.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 12:38 pm

None of that excuses the absurdity of the PA managing an airport in southern New Jersey.

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 2:10 pm

Or one in Orange County either.
It’s not New Jersey’s fault that New Jersey decided that building an airport out in the middle of nowhere made no sense or that New York state jumped on the chance to piss away money on Stewart. Or that New Jersey wanted some gravy out of the deal before they would approve the PA taking a white elephant off New York State’s hands. That’s the way the PA works.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 3:04 pm

You keep ignoring that Stewart is situated near PA territory. And fuck this tit-for-tat garbage anyway. Between PATH, the port, approach road repairs, and two bus terminals, New Jersey already gets too much largess from the PA even without more airports.

If Stewart is beneficial to the PA service area, it’s beneficial to northern NJ and southern NYS alike. Atlantic City has nothing to do with PA territory, and doesn’t benefit anyone in or near the PA’s zone.

As much as these Atlantic City antics are theft from NYC, they’re also theft from northern NJ.

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 3:24 pm

Then that mean you have no clue where PA territory is. It’s a 25 mile circle that’s someplace south of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The New Jersey governor could have vetoed getting involved with Stewart at all in any way. New York wanted the Port Authority to do it and New Jersey got the PA to take over Atlantic City. Which is also outside of the PA’s territory.

AG January 18, 2015 - 3:46 pm

I’m not getting into the right or wrong of it… But the idea was to shift flights away from the super crowded NYC airspace for travelers in the Hudson Valley that are closer to Stewart but can’t fly out of Westchester (which can’t take much more anyway).
I don’t see why they had to necessarily take it over… Coordination probably could have done the trick.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 3:54 pm

I guess you don’t know what the word “near” means. Seriously curious: do you have some learning disability? You misunderstand way too many simple things, and then react to your own misunderstanding.

FYI, PA crossing territory is 25 mi radius north of the Statue of Liberty. Stewart is roughly twice that distance from the Statue of Liberty, but well within travel distance of most of the territory. It also has the distinction of being more convenient to many current users of PA airports, certainly more convenient than LaGuardia or JFK to northernmost communities of NJ.

Atlantic City, as the crow flies, is closer to 4x (~90mi) that distance from Frau Freedom. Absolutely nobody in what could even liberally be understood as PA territory could possibly find it convenient to get there.

Anyway, why would the NJ governor veto Stewart? If a relief airport is really needed, and that’s not in dispute, Stewart is at least as beneficial to northern New Jersey as it is to Westchester and NYC.

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 8:35 pm

True foisting a New York airport onto the Port Authority is different than foisting a New Jersey airport on the Port Authority. One of them is in New York and the other one is in New Jersey. But then everybody knows that anything in New York is obviously more important than anything anywhere in the known universe. And that’s why foisting a money losing airport on the PA is okay. Instead of letting it die a slow quiet death.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 12:43 pm

That was one of the most revealing things you ever said. You literally projected the polar opposite of your own dumb opinion onto me!

No, the truth of it is simple, and you don’t seem to want to bother denying it: Stewart is right next to northern New Jersey, easily accessible by millions of people who use PA airports in both states. AC is not accessible to any of those people, whether they live in northern NJ or not. Understand that? Good.

Logical implication of that: the AC grab is theft from northern New Jersey as much as it is theft from New York City.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 1:35 pm

And you don’t recognize that it’s been there for decades and some people find flying out of there to Florida or a hub more convenient. Changing the operator to the PA isn’t going to change that. It didn’t have to be the PA that took over responsibility for all the red ink it spills all over it’s books. New Jersey lets it’s obscure airports die a quiet death and let them be redeveloped into condos. Or in the case of the the relief airport we were going to need in 60s, turn it into a wildlife refuge.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 2:02 pm

All completely irrelevant. Most stakeholders agree with the need for a relief airport. Whether that need is real is not for me to say.

It still isn’t the equivalent to the naked greed and theft of rolling AC into the PA at the expense of New York and northern New Jersey.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 3:21 pm

Which stake holders besides you? Most of the capacity problems at the regions airports would go away if the airlines flew bigger planes less often. Fares would have to be really really low to convince me, who lived so close to Newark airport I could listen to the on airport radio station if I turned up the volume, to go to Stewart. There aren’t that many people who would rather fly out of Stewart versus one of the other airports in the region. And the ones that do manage to fill a few flights a day to Florida or hub airports.

AG January 19, 2015 - 8:11 pm

“Most of the capacity problems at the regions airports would go away if the airlines flew bigger planes less often.”

Sorry – but the PA is not going to cause the entire airline industry because NYC’s airspace is very crowded. Interesting enough just today the FAA announced they are considering continuing caps on flights out of JFK-LGA-EWR… (earlier article from last year below)


In any event – it’s all folly. What matters is upgrading to next generation tracking. A GPS based system rather than radar. That would reduce disruption and delays and potentially even add capacity. The country is just too cheap to do it.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 4:48 pm

This has nothing to do with me. Why do you keep masturbating to me? The PA, for one. Both states evidently agreed. Nobody else really cared. Who was against it? Anyone? Maybe the FAA? Might just be you and your friends in the Bush Administration. 🙁

Stewart was a default choice when faced with a need for a new regional airport. It only sucked less than the other options: NIMBYs in northern NJ would have said non to siting an airport near their McMansions, Westchester and Long Island are just as a bad, NYC has no room. The next places to site an airport are far west of Teterboro or far south of Newark. Both are worse for NYC and ~6 million NYS residents than Stewart is for northern NJ.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 5:53 pm

You are the one who is pissed off at the PA taking over management of the Atlantic City airport. Makes perfect sense to me. It’s tit for tat for taking over Stewart. I can argue some more with an asshole or argue some more with and idiot who refuses to believe that it’s tit for tat or I can go shopping for dinner. I’m hungry. I have to go to the supermarket to get something for dinner.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 7:27 pm

I’d be careful about name-calling given how poor your reading comprehension is. I never really gave an opinion on whether it was tit-for tat, and don’t much care. What I said was it was inexcusable, irrelevant to the PA’s mission and service area, and theft.

But, now that you mention it, tit-for-tat probably doesn’t make much sense as a motivation. NJ pols are probably aware that NJ gets more largess from the PA than New York does, so they’re unlikely to be upset by Stewart (which they wouldn’t want in NJ anyway). They probably just saw a convenient opportunity to unburden the State of New Jersey of a money-losing airport at North Jersey’s and NYC’s expense without much thought for anything else.

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 6:07 pm

It’s been there ready and waiting to be the wondrous relief airport it could be for decades. Having the PA operate it isn’t going to change that. If it’s so wondrous why isn’t the MTA chompin’ at the bit to get it’s hands it?

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 8:28 pm

Hey, I’m not trying to justify it either. AG had the right of it: it really could be a bad decision. I dunno. But the PA is modernizing it and investing in it, besides operating it. The key point is, nobody can say it’s the same thing as foisting an airport in southern New Jersey on the PA.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 8:06 pm

I went to the supermarket and don’t really care what kind of hot air you blow out your ass anymore.

Ray January 15, 2015 - 5:15 am

Its nice that the NJ Dems want to engage on these issues; yet they ducked the issue at hand. And they need to deal with it. Sure, riders needs should come first. Yet, given this railroads abysmal financials there is a need for the public to pressure our state governments, our joint congressional delegation, operating stakeholders and commuting public to come together and re-set. Annual deficits are projected to reach $500MM by 2018. It covers over $8.00 to provide ONE passenger a ride. Bridge tolls, airports, ports seem to be funding this railroads operating expenses – which appear to be inflated by FRA regulations (not sure that accounts for all $500MM IMHO) This expensive railroad and its irrational FRA oversight is robbing our region of valuable investment in other important assets (think Gateway, new LGA, etc.)

Read the detail here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....-loss.html

Larry Greenfield January 15, 2015 - 8:15 am

Give PATH to the MTA and watch those costs drop dramatically.

Larry Littlefield January 15, 2015 - 9:30 am

Or the TWU goes to court for the right to be as overpaid and unproductive as the PATH.

The only deal that makes sense is for the PATH to match the compensation (which is high enough) and productivity (which could be better but isn’t bad) of the NYC subway.

And NYC and NJ to take over the policing costs, limiting what’s left of the Port Authority police to the airports and seaports — if there.

One possible productivity gain — have the NYPD, which has excess employees, and the NJ state police take over those roles with no additional workers.

And find a way to install a switch to allow non-revenue moves between the PATH and the 6th Avenue subway line, with electrical equipment to allow PATH cars to use both voltages. The PATH trains would then have major maintenance done at the 207th Street shop.

sonicboy678 January 15, 2015 - 10:42 pm

One problem: that means railroad equipment on a stretch of subway, which may cause the subway to be reclassified as a railroad, thus requiring all equipment to be refitted to conform to FRA standards (if they don’t already conform to said standards).

Henry January 15, 2015 - 11:56 pm

You could probably cut off any remaining mainline rail links with PATH and solve the problem that way.

Integration with MTA would almost certainly boost PATH ridership though, and would essentially do for New Jersey what MTA free transfers did for the outer boroughs.

Larry Littlefield January 16, 2015 - 1:12 pm

Is not the subway connected to the rail network for deliveries — through the Linden Yard and 39th Street Yard in Brooklyn and the Unionport Yard in the Bronx?

What is that PATH connection used for? Does rail freight run on the PATH, or something?

Henry January 16, 2015 - 1:30 pm

From what I understand, the PATH connection is never really used, but the railroad status is kept in case the PATH ever extends via railroad lines.

The yard connections do not subject the subway to FRA classification, probably because they are in yards that will never be used for through-service. The PATH is directly linked to the mainline rail network through a connection near Harrison station.

AG January 17, 2015 - 2:42 pm

very good point… of course politics are in the way.

Larry Greenfield January 16, 2015 - 1:44 am

FRA rules would not necessarily be applicable for non-revenue movements of the PATH “railroad” equipment over MTA tracks.

Henry January 16, 2015 - 1:31 pm

What would the point be of merging if not integrating the two systems, then? If it wanted to, the PANYNJ could probably ask to revoke railroad status from the PATH.

Larry Greenfield January 16, 2015 - 5:14 pm

The FRA would expect to continue its jurisdiction over PATH since PATH operates in interstate service. Not sure how or whether the integration would be worked out with FRA.

Henry January 17, 2015 - 12:23 pm

That’s not the reason why PATH still has FRA status; if it was, the DC Metro would also be subject to FRA rules.

The only reason FRA has any standing is because PATH has a connection to the national rail network that is entirely possible to use during regular service.

Larry Greenfield January 18, 2015 - 4:37 pm

How would PATH trains be powered on the “national rail network?”

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 2:01 am

The PATH fleet is big enough that it makes sense for them to do all the maintenance on their mainline between Newark and Jersey City. Not give you the willies because they do their maintenance miles and miles away from their tracks.

Brandon January 15, 2015 - 7:39 am

“Port Authority reform was never supposed to be about cutting vital rail services for hard-working residents,”

Gotta love the stupid standard language employed by public officials in the tristate area. What about lazy residents? They don’t deserve to get back from the bar by taking PATH?

Eric F January 15, 2015 - 9:00 am

Listless riders afflicted with ennui need a better lobbying group.

BoerumHillScott January 15, 2015 - 8:28 am

The first place to start cutting costs for PATH is police/security, which makes up 20% of the PATH operating budget, and the number is even higher for the overall PA.

lawhawk January 15, 2015 - 9:18 am

New Jersey’s transportation trust fund is essentially running on fumes (it’s basically taking in just enough to cover the debt issued, and without additional revenue sources, no new projects can begin). So, NJ has to deal with that as well as what to do with PATH/PANYNJ issues.

New York, likewise has a funding problem for the MTA and an inability to deal with mass transit issues except when there’s a crisis, in which case the MTA is able to do herculean tasks in short order – like restoring services after Sandy. The problem is that the mundane and the long term capital projects list isn’t funded either.

Neither Christie nor Cuomo have figured out how to properly fund infrastructure. Christie essentially robbed Peter (the Port Authority) to pay Paul (the Pulaski Skyway project). Cuomo hasn’t done any better, turning a blind eye to the MTA and then using Clean Water funds to cover part of the cost of the new Tappan Zee span that wont be including mass transit anytime soon (BRT is possible, but not without major spending on the I287 corridor with new lanes, flyovers, etc.) Rail across the Hudson at the TZB is contemplated in the design, but wont be built anytime soon either. Tolling is still uncertain since no one quite knows where the money is coming from to fully fund the bridge.

At least the Bayonne and Goethals bridge projects are funded through the PANYNJ capital plans (and include PPPI).

Still, none of this addresses how to address the structural problems with the PATH budget. Extending PATH to EWR wont fix that. Selling off the WTC is a back to the 90s approach that still could work, but the Port Authority needs to take a serious look at curbing its own police force – and getting out of the police business altogether. The NYPD can handle the policing just as well as PAPD, or perhaps better considering that the PAPD costs far more per officer than the NYPD. That’s a significant cost savings right there. Local PDs in New Jersey can likewise handle many of the same missions, and if not, then a substantially smaller police force will make the costs more reasonable.

I still think the PATH should be rolled into MTA (and not NJ Transit), which operates a system most closely organized in the same fashion as PATH (subways, signaling, operations into Manhattan) and best capable of addressing the cost issues.

Speaking of NJT, it appears that they’re finally getting construction of the extension to Scranton underway with new rail going in at Lackawanna Cutoff beginning to go in. Doing so would cater to commuters coming into NYC from PA via the GWB and reduce traffic and congestion, but only if there’s sufficient service. Service remains an issue elsewhere on NJT, whether it’s because the tunnels are maxed out into NYC or because they’re not running sufficient trains (as on the North Jersey routes) or because there’s insufficient parking at the stations that are already busy (as on the Bergen/Main). NJT is also doing an infill station at Westmont, which will likely mean the shuttering of the Garfield Station even though Garfield connects with local bus routes and is downtown.

Larry Littlefield January 15, 2015 - 9:32 am

“Neither Christie nor Cuomo have figured out how to properly fund infrastructure.”

Neither seems willing to state the truth — current and future generations of NY and NJ residents were robbed by older, former, and previous residents. Through debts, pension increases and underfunding, and (outside NYC) inadequate infrastructure maintenance.

Larry Greenfield January 15, 2015 - 9:39 am

Given that:

1. PATH can be operated more efficiently by the MTA,
2. PANYNJ policing can be handled by the local New York City and NJ municipal police forces,
3. Bridges and tunnels can be managed by MTA’s Bridges and Tunnels
4. Ports can be managed separately by the two states,
5. PANYNJ can’t seem to maintain its New York City bus terminal,
6. PANYNJ can’t control the costs of its New York City subway train stations ($4B for the most recent one),

other than the patronage it provides to the two governors, what is the reason for keeping the PANYNJ?

Larry Littlefield January 15, 2015 - 11:53 am

It is a financial mechanism that transfers money from profitable investments (bridges and tunnels, airports) to money losing investments (port, bus terminal, Path, WTC).

NYC and NY State are too short of transport $ to fund the money losers.

The port, bus terminal and WTC have gone from winners to losers in the past 25 years.

Bolwerk January 15, 2015 - 1:16 pm

The NY Times mentioned in the mid-2000s that the only profitable Manhattan crossing was the GWB. I don’t know how the tunnels managed a loss, or if they persist in managing a loss, but supposedly they did.

BTW, it’s probably a bit misleading to say crossings are “profitable” in their own right. From a cost standpoint, they are no more than arbitrary stretches of road that actually happen to be more expensive to maintain than other arbitrary stretches of road.

They happen to be high-demand crossings, and the PA happens to be allowed to extract rent for them. The tolls they charge are akin to medieval lords charging rents on the village oven. They aren’t being used to support the wear and tear they do to the roads that feed the bridge or anything like that.

lop January 15, 2015 - 10:27 pm

2015 net income (revenue):
holland: 91m (191m)
Lincoln: 91m (245m)
GWB: 526m (707m)
Bayonne: 8.5m (38m)
Goethals: 121m (187m)
Outerbridge: 120m (154m)

page 73 in pdf

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 12:39 am

high tolls encourage people to leave the car at home and use mass transit.

AG January 15, 2015 - 1:07 pm

1/2/6 are true.
3 and 4 are not.
5 is a result of 1/2/6…. If they cut those operations they would be able to deal with the buses.

The port was a disaster when both states were squabbling with each other. If the PA gets rid of PATH and cuts it’s police force and sells off non essential real estate (like the WTC) – it can get back to it’s mission of keeping the ports of NY and NJ the busiest on the eastern seaboard… Hopefully finally implementing a system through a combination of a rail tunnel and more barges to cut truck traffic – which will benefit all of us in the tri-state.

Alon Levy January 15, 2015 - 1:35 pm

Completely off-topic: about a week ago, you asked me what transit projects in the New York area I support other than SAS, given that I oppose the various airport connector plans and the 7 extension. I didn’t reply because I didn’t see it until a few days later. So here goes:

With the exception of future phases of SAS, which are precious but which the region’s elites stopped caring about, the best transit expansions in the New York area aren’t formally proposed by anyone. After SAS, the most important urban lines to build are Triboro, a fifth (or perhaps 2.5th?) phase of SAS going west under 125th, an extension of the 4 under Utica, and an extension of the 2/5 under Nostrand. The most important suburban lines to build are actually urban tunnels connecting various suburban lines to create an RER system, not unlike ARC Alt G but more expansive in order to also serve Lower Manhattan. No guarantees I’ll support all of this if the construction costs are as high as those of SAS and the 7 extension, but I think those lines can be cost-effective even at elevated costs, just not as elevated as those of Manhattan today.

If construction costs can be brought down by a very large factor then new lines become cost-effective, but again this doesn’t involve any new airport service. Rather, it involves things like leveraging the SAS Phase 3-63rd Street Tunnel connection to create a new subway branch running under Northern Boulevard, extending the E and F and J/Z farther east, connecting the R to Staten Island, extending the 6 to Coop City, extending the 7 to Jersey, and building a crosstown line in Jersey under Bergenline to intersect the extended 7 and PATH.

AG January 15, 2015 - 4:54 pm

Well all those you noted in your last paragraph are worthwhile… There could also be a few more added… For instance – the West Bronx has no subway service (though it does have the Metro North subway line) and is more dense than most parts of the city… There could also be a need for street cars to go east west through extremely dense neighborhoods in The Bronx.

That all said – just because construction costs are high doesn’t mean we should give up construction. How costs are brought down is very complex – but you can’t “throw out the baby with the bath water”.

Alon Levy January 16, 2015 - 9:56 am

Yes, you’re right, I forgot – University is one of the corridors in the same tier of Northern, E and F extensions, and Bergenline. (It is not in the same tier as Utica, despite University Heights’ high density, because of the proximity to the 4.) For east-west service, I can see a surface railstitution of the Bx12, but otherwise, the Bronx has pretty bad urban geography for internal subways.

High construction costs mean less construction is cost-effective. The flip side is that low construction costs make more lines cost-effective – for example, Spain builds high-speed rail to small cities that more expensive countries would not build to, and manages to almost break even. Of course, some lines, like SAS, are so beneficial they’re cost-effective even at New York costs, but there are a lot of subways that should be built but only at $500 million/km or less, a lot that should be built but only at $250 million/km or less, etc. (I try not to think what the possibilities are at sub-$250m/km costs, since they’d border on the fantastic; my $75 billion fantasy map, at $250m/km underground, already has an entire network of lines serving new TOD south of Secaucus and such.)

Larry Greenfield January 15, 2015 - 4:46 pm

I still don’t see the functional necessity of the PANYNJ given that MTA already manages bridges, tunnels, buses and subways in the region far more professionally than the PANYNJ. Let the PANTNJ manage ports (air and sea) if they must be kept alive but I still think the region would be better off if each state managed its own ports (air and sea); then they’d have to compete by providing rail access to the ports (both types) at long last.

AG January 15, 2015 - 4:56 pm

“but I still think the region would be better off if each state managed its own ports (air and sea); then they’d have to compete by providing rail access to the ports (both types) at long last”

When the states did it before it was a complete and utter disaster. The PA actually does a pretty good job of the sea and airports. The delays in airspace have nothing to do with them – but with the lack of next generation air traffic control. It should absolutely be out of the rail and real estate business (not relating to the ports) – but there is an absolute necessity to have a bi-state agency managing the ports.

Larry Greenfield January 15, 2015 - 5:42 pm

I’m not very familiar with the seaports but if the condition of and rail access to the New York airports (Laguardia and JFK) are an indication that “The PA actually does a pretty good job” I’m not buying it; I think they have failed miserably.

When did the states do it before? The PA was formed in 1921.

AG January 15, 2015 - 9:26 pm

Ok – it’s obvious you just don’t like the PA… That doesn’t change the facts. The busiest port outside of Southern California (and one taking more market share even though it’s in this expensive market) doesn’t happen with pretty criticisms.

When did they do it before??? You realize the port system is what built NYC right?

Larry Greenfield January 16, 2015 - 3:49 am

I’m not commenting on the seaports at all; of course I realize they were crucial to the region’s history and development. My concern about the PA is that it is ineffective as an organization, mainly because it doesn’t have one head, but two, and that the heads have disparate agendas. This is the core problem, in my opinion, and is demonstrated by the conditions of the airports, the lack of direct rail access to them from midtown, the NYC bus terminal mess, the outrageous cost of the Trade Center PATH station, the GWB scandal, PATH operating costs, etc.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:46 am

Two of them have direct rail service from Manhattan. It’s too bad you don’t like the idea of changing to a people mover when you are on airport. Even if the people mover is off airport when you get on it at the train station.

AG January 17, 2015 - 2:49 pm

Ummm – but I already said they were inefficient… That is BECAUSE they are doing things besides just running the sea and air ports. Cut away the fat and let them do what they were supposed to do – which is coordinate all the cargo – goods – and people in the NYC metro area which is the most crowded airspace in the country – and the busiest sea port outside southern CA (and gaining market share). Not to mention the busiest road bridges.. It’s called re-focusing and organizations do it all the time. Saying “oh just scrap it all” is not a well thought out discussion.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 3:15 pm

They were created to coordinate transportation within a 25 mile radius of Manhattan. Any kind of transportation that involved crossing the Hudson. It’s why the Tappan Zee bridge is in a stupid place and not in a less stupid place and the Verrazano Narrows bridge is an MTA bridge. Sorry you find that division of responsibility unnerving the rest of us find it okay.

AG January 17, 2015 - 3:18 pm

The Verrazano and Tappan Zee both connect NY with NY… The Verrazano is connecting two parts of NYC.. Tappan Zee connects Westchester and Rockland along the Thruway – hence it is under their authority.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 4:51 pm

It’s under their authority because a more logical bridge farther south would have been in the PA’s jurisdiction. And the PA would have collected the tolls. They didn’t want to wait around for the PA to get the urge or convince them to do it or share the tolls, take your pick. I’m tired of trying to explain that the PA has all sorts of weird powers.

Henry January 16, 2015 - 12:06 am

The PANYNJ’s mission is to run the airports, not to make sure that people can get to them. You think the PA paid for Grand Central, the Belt, or I-95?

JFK’s airport access is fine, and even Rockaway Beach reactivation wouldn’t make it any better. LGA had airport access proposed by Giuliani, but that got shot down by NIMBYs (in a process that was not the PA’s fault at all). Newark has a terrible airport connection, but half of that is New Jersey Transit’s fault.

Larry Greenfield January 16, 2015 - 3:58 am

If the PANYNJ mission does not include making sure people can get to the region’s airports, it is surely time to clearly establish whose mission it is. Whether that turns out to be each state, each city (Newark and New York City), MTA, or some other entity, its time to eliminate the warfare among the organizations that has stymied progress. Can we at least agree on that?

Henry January 16, 2015 - 11:38 am

I don’t know what universe you’re living in that has local agencies fighting over extensions to airports.

NJT and PANYNJ have cooperated over the current Newark connection (which is about as reliable as it’s going to get for a service using the North River Tunnels). The City and MTA were willing to consider extension into LaGuardia until the NIMBYs said otherwise, and the MTA and the PANYNJ have cooperated on a JFK link since forever; otherwise, the Train to the Plane and AirTrain would’ve never happened.

Larry Greenfield January 16, 2015 - 5:06 pm

All I’m saying is that, with the exception of seaports, MTA and PANYNJ have almost completely overlapping purposes, namely providing rail and bus service in the metropolitan area and they’re competing for the same limited money to build and operate them. Why do we need PANYNJ to provide rail service to airports such as Newark and JFK when MTA could do so under their existing management structure, particularly when, as you say, it’s not their mission. PANYNJ duplicates the overhead coast of that structure and also suffers from the “two-competing-governors” management flaw.

Henry January 17, 2015 - 12:19 pm

Most of the PATH’s operating inefficiency is due to the fact that it is chartered as an FRA railroad.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 12:45 pm

that it is packed to the gills during rush hour has a bit to do with it too. And not very crowded otherwise. ( well it is when they single track overnight… )

AG January 17, 2015 - 2:58 pm

Larry – you said: “under their existing management structure, particularly when, as you say, it’s not their mission. PANYNJ duplicates the overhead coast of that structure and also suffers from the “two-competing-governors” management flaw.”
Well it’s a mistake of the colonists that the entire area near the massive port was not New York State.. The geography is tied together no matter what the politics say (in the same way Maryland – DC – Virginia all have to confer on transport issues)… Unless northern NJ is annexed to NY – the issues won’t go away… Both states HAVE TO work together. That takes an agency where both have “skin in the game”.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:58 am

The PA’s mission is to facilitate transportation in the port. There were no airports when it was formed.

Henry January 17, 2015 - 12:20 pm

I believe that ports was eventually understood to mean both sea and air. In any case, it makes sense, given that air traffic in the region has to be tightly controlled due to all the overlapping airspace.

Larry Greenfield January 17, 2015 - 1:11 pm

But the PANYNJ doesn’t control air traffic, the FAA does. Again, most of their functions (local subway/rail, bridges, tunnels) are duplicated by the MTA; therefore most of their management overhead could be eliminated by giving these functions to the MTA just as the three subway systems were combined when the MTA was formed.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:17 pm

there was no problem with airspace in the region when the PA took over the airports. Newark opened first, Mayor LaGuardia was pissed off that flights to New York landed in Newark so what is now LaGuardia was built and then Idlewild.

Henry January 17, 2015 - 1:40 pm

@Larry And then what? The MTA is no stranger to being held politically hostage either. You’d just be transferring bi-state problems to another agency and making that bi-state instead, since New Jersey has about zero voice in what the MTA does right now, and the MTA operates using completely different funding mechanisms that New Jersey would have to approve. Do we need to make MTA governance more of a cesspit than it already is?

AG January 17, 2015 - 3:06 pm

True – but huge amounts of cargo go through the airports now too… Hence the reasonable expansion. Then of course there was the same cross border issues since NY’s airport… was in Newark, NJ. So the airports are reasonable as they are “ports” as well.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:12 am

Before the PA was formed the harbor was gridlocked with all the ferry boats, car floats and garbage scows. And it was a cesspool because all the cities around the edges pointed their fingers at the other cities as being the source of all the pollution. Their sewage could just be dumped untreated into the harbor. All of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn were still dumping untreated sewage into the harbor until the Federal Government forced the city to build treatment plants in the 1970s

Larry Greenfield January 17, 2015 - 5:50 am

Are you saying that the PANYNJ was formed to solve a sewage treatment problem?

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 9:37 am

No but cleaning up the harbor was part of the agreements, plural, that resulted in the formation of the PA. The PA was formed to facilitate transportation in the port. The Federal Government was the one that finally forced New York City into not letting all of Manhattan flush into the rivers untreated.

Henry January 16, 2015 - 12:00 am

I wouldn’t be so quick to say that New Jersey municipal police are up to snuff with policing, and entrusting the security of PATH to them would be very difficult; because of the numerous jurisdictions, who has jurisdiction in the tunnels or in the trains?

Port Authority police is also a significantly bigger category than only PATH, given that PAPD secures all PA facilities including airports, ports, bridges and tunnels, the PABT, and PATH.

Ryan January 15, 2015 - 12:29 pm

Where is transit on the Tappan Zee Bridge going to go? I don’t mean “where in this bridge configuration will you place transit,” I mean “what real transit corridor even exists here?”

The Tappan Zee is an excellent microcosm of crappy roadworks on multiple levels. Its placement was and is designed as a middle finger to the Port Authority, being exactly as close as it was possible to get to the PANYNJ jurisdictional area without actually being inside of it. It carries an interstate highway that connects nothing to nowhere and serves as a bypass of more congested and more desirable areas. Maintaining the bridge is an unfortunate necessity only due to the horrendous lack of Hudson River crossings of any mode further down-river. Transit on the Tappan Zee would be a tremendous waste of resources better served on new cross-Hudson connections in Manhattan, the Bronx, and a replacement freeway crossing somewhere in Yonkers.

Now, I could buy the argument for rail on ghe new Tappan Zee as a freight facility. But transit? No.

Bolwerk January 15, 2015 - 2:39 pm

It simply ties into either or both of the two west of Hudson commuter lines. Except for the price, it wasn’t even an inherently bad idea.

Ryan January 15, 2015 - 2:50 pm

It is an inherently bad idea unless the cost is $0 because every dollar spent on shuttling mostly-empty passenger coaches from Suffern to White Plains and back is one less dollar available to get more trains into Manhattan and solve the real capacity crises under Park Avenue and across the Hudson River.

Whatever demand exists for Suffern – GCT or Suffern – NYP travel is better served with new cross-Hudson tunnels, and whatever demand is there for Suffern – White Plains or Suffern – Yonkers trains doesn’t even begin to measure against the incredible demand for trains from everywhere into Manhattan.

Tappan Zee transit would have been the latest in a collection of worse than useless projects like the billion-dollar busway – projects that actively harm transit support, drain money from useful transit projects, and provide valid ammunition to transit opponents.

Bolwerk January 15, 2015 - 4:14 pm

Even the crappy service currently available hardly runs empty. It’s probably a sane project at $50M or $60M per mile, even if the bridge costs significantly more than it should.

lop January 15, 2015 - 10:11 pm

Alternative 4D, CR in rockland, over the bridge and connect to the hudson line before vehicle and equipment costs, and ignoring the associated full corridor BRT costs, was priced at ~300 million a mile for the section in rockland (~3 miles in cut/cover tunnel, ~2.5 miles in viaduct/major bridge, ~10 miles at grade, retained cut or fill), 1.2 billion incremental cost to the bridge, 1.5 billion for a ~ 1 mile tunnel loop from the bridge landing to the hudson line (didn’t want to ruin people’s views with a trestle bridge/have a switch on the TZB if they ever build east to port chester) Off hand I think the trestle bridge would have been less than 400 million.

Projected net cost (annualized capital costs + operating costs – fares) per passenger was $33.66, though that includes bus and rail passengers. Net cost per bus passenger in the full corridor BRT 3A was $6.39, so bus operating costs aren’t driving it up.

Bolwerk January 16, 2015 - 9:30 am

That would be a lot more interesting if it compared passenger-mile costs.

lop January 16, 2015 - 9:56 am



Net costs of 72 cents per passenger mile for 287 corridor BRT, $1.45 per mile for 287 corridor BRT + CR in rockland + hudson line connection.

Bolwerk January 16, 2015 - 5:31 pm

I wish they explained that. $.72 is a believable opex. but is kind of pushing it for op + cap. Compare to Bee Line: $.89 opex, and unusually low capex only drives it up to $0.93.

Not sure I’d believe their ridership or EAC estimates either. Is it just me, or is EAC fixed at 50 years discounted at 7% for all options?

lop January 16, 2015 - 8:19 pm

72 cents is op+cap-fares. Op+cap is $1.00 per mile for the bus.

lop January 16, 2015 - 8:24 pm

Annualized capital cost s are calculated using a discount rate (7 percent) applied to the expected economic life of the faci lities needed to creat e the alternative/option. It is analogous to an amortization rate, representing the annual level of investment needed to finance the alternative/option over its economic life. While transit systems are not privately finan ced, this allows comparison of altern atives/options having different economic lives to be equitably compared. For example, some alte rnatives/options have longer economic lives than do others. The economic life expectancy of buses is far shorter than trai ns, so over the life of a project the bus fleet may need to be entirely replaced once or even twice for every time th e rail vehicles need to be re placed. The annualized capital cost measure accounts for this difference by reflecting such differences.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 1:58 pm

Ah, still seems inexplicable. Are any of those costs broken down anywhere? I see some tables relating to equipment cost, but no explanation for what that equipment is or how it’s used. If you struggle for it, you can get a daily ridership projection, but even that doesn’t tell you how the demand is distributed. Lots of peak hour bus service is an expensive way to meet high demand, but lots of off-peak rail service to pick up medium-low could have the opposite problem.

I don’t know what to make of the ridership projections either. Several inexplicable assumptions there, but the biggest is probably the rather small gap between the Manhattan-bound ridership that the bus with a transfer would capture vs. a GCT connection. There is high demand for Manhattan service without doing anything, too, but a GCT train should be the best option to capture a lot of it.

I didn’t have time to read the report when I last posted (read some of it now), but caught the paragraph you pasted when I was looking for the discount rate. It looks like they did not in fact make those adjustments. I ran the numbers for the first three columns’ project and transit capitalization and got 50 years for each capitalization.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 3:06 pm

someone who lives in Rockland and works near Grand Central has the option to take the bus to the PABT and walk to Grand Central or take the shuttle. Someone who lives in Rockland and wants to get to work in the general vicinity of Wall Street would still take the train to Hoboken and take PATH. Once there is enough capacity to run as many trains as NJTRansit wants into Manhattan they would like to run them to Grand Central for the same reason the LIRR will soon. Sending the train from Mahwah to Grand Central makes it trivial to send the same train to Grand Central. People in Rockland aren’t as enamored of doing across the Tappan Zee as you are. They just want to get to Grand Central. Which will cost almost nothing if NJTransit tracks can get you from Secaucus to Grand Central.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 4:36 pm

Enamored as I am? Who do you think you’re talking to? I don’t have a problem with a transit route, but it needs to be done at a sane per-km cost. There isn’t a sensible alternative to rail given that it connects two commuter rail routes, but build-nothing is probably better than the TZB rebuild, even if that rebuild includes a commuter bus billed as BRT.

The report lop pasted just seemed full of dopey or at least unexplained assumptions. But don’t hold your breath for NJT GCT access. MNRR across the Hudson is probably more likely. And I don’t think it’s likely until we get someone more visionary than Cuomo.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 5:24 pm

You are the one who thinks we should spend billions of dollars so that people in Rockland county can avoid going through icky New Jersey and instead go through the Bronx not me.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 6:34 pm

I do? That’s news to me. Thank you for revealing to me opinions I didn’t even know I had!

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 7:53 pm

You are the one who keeps insisting taking the train from Suffern to Manhattan is so much better when you go through the Bronx instead of through Bergen County not me. And that they would find going through Penn Station to get to Grand Central is much worse than spending billions of dollars so they can take a train through the Bronx.
The people who take the train from Suffern to Manhattan via Hoboken and PATH don’t care if the train goes to Penn Station or Grand Central. Apparently 17.000 people a day think that taking the train to Secaucus and changing to the train to Penn Station is a better option than taking the bus.
I can relate because I worked on 41st and Broadway and the bus stop at my house had bus service to downtown Newark or the PABT a block away from where I worked. I took the bus into Downtown Newark and took the train. It was more expensive to do that.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 9:34 pm

Don’t you ever get bored with wasting your time responding to something nobody said? All I said is a one-seat GCT ride is to be preferred to the transfer-ridden hell that is currently necessary for riders from the west to get to the east side by rail. It’s one of those little details sane people don’t dispute, whether they like them or not.

I don’t have any special attachment to either scenario. Hell, do them all: GCT access for NJT, cross-Westchester routing for PJL, 7 to Secaucus. Which order of completion would piss you BANANAs off the most? I’ll support that one.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 10:35 pm

And when are you gonna get it through your skull that you don’t need to go through the Bronx from Rockland to get a one seat ride to Grand Central? And between the time you can get a one seat ride to Grand Central there will be the possibility to get a one seat ride to Penn Station which is good enough for someone who works in Rockefeller Center. Or Times Square. And the people who take the train now to get to Hoboken don’t give a shit whether or not they can get a one seat ride to Midtown anywhere because they are going to Wall Street or even Exchange Place.

lop January 17, 2015 - 11:18 pm


A bit on ridership and travel times.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 1:05 am

when are you gonna get it through your skull that you don’t need to go through the Bronx from Rockland to get a one seat ride to Grand Central?

Who said that? Please paste a link the offending message.

[other anecdotal bullshit]

The biggest commuter magnet for jobs is still north of Grand Central. Times Square is a magnet for McJobs and tourists, maybe frumpy Jersey housewife bus terminal shoppers, but not commuter rail users.

The bus terminal is sited better than Penn, but even then it’s probably a nontrivial factor in driving Times Square’s subway use so high. Many of those people aren’t staying near the bus terminal, they just happen to need to use it.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:03 am

There is perfectly good railroad running through Suffern right now that people use to get to Penn Station no need to connect to Metro North east of the Hudson to get people to Manhattan.
I’m not going to go try to find the most current American Community Survey. Most people live in Rockland County work in Rockland County. People who work in Rockland includes all of the people who work in retail. And in things like installing cable TV or for the electric company or the telephone company. The second most popular work destination is Manhattan and the Bergen and Westchester County are very close. What Rocklanders want is a huge bus terminal on one side of the Tappan Zee. They catch a fairly frequent bus at home, go to the bus terminal and change to a bus to their work place. Sounds real good to have a train on the Cross Westchester – the actual cubicles are quite a hike from the highway and they would need to get on a bus anyway. Bus to bus is a lot better than bus to train station, train to another bus in Westchester.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 2:04 pm

Ridership on west-of-Hudson MNRR service is low. For a large proportion of the potential users, it makes more sense to take a bus or drive in because MNRR requires a transfer at Secaucus followed by a subway trip from Penn. As you are wont to point out, Penn is not much of a destination.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 3:11 pm

Grand Central isn’t Wall Street and it’s not Rockefeller Center or Times Square either.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 4:13 pm

But Grand Central is within walking distance of much more employment for commuters. That’s on top of no second transfer commuter rail transfer penalty.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 5:22 pm

and you can spit at some of those places where buses from Rockland debark. Rocklanders think nothing of taking the bus to Manhattan. Westchester county residents take the bus to the Bronx all the time and Nassau county residents take the bus to Queens all the time. If you are parking the car in Suffern to get to Grand Central you don’t give a shit whether it stops in Ardsley NY or Ridgewood NJ. You care that it goes to Grand Central. Trains from the existing train station in Suffern will be able to do that someday without going through the Bronx. Someday sooner trains from Suffern will go all the way to Penn Station with a one seat ride.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 6:46 pm

Grasping at concepts isn’t one of your strong points, is it? You’re confusing an inference for my opinion on the subject. I *understand* why people don’t use PJL and Pascack Valley to reach the east side or even the west side. Dump the transfer penalty and that ridership might improve. Send it to GCT by any route and it would improve more if it can be time-competitive with a bus (not hard).

But your optimism about Penn access is probably misplaced. Even Gateway makes such a service dubious at best.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 7:57 pm

Amtrak ain’t building it so they can run 6 trains an hour instead of 3. NJTransit is going to be the major user and Amtrak never would have built it if his Girthness hadn’t cancelled ARC. Which would have been able to go to Grand Central. People who take the bus to the PABT to get to work in Rockefeller Center will be delighted that they will be able to get a one seat ride to the west side of Manhattan. Or a cross platform transfer to Penn Station in Seacaucus if they miss their train. The people who take the train to get to Hoboken will still take the train to Hoboken and change to PATH.

Bolwerk January 17, 2015 - 9:42 pm

If Amtrak builds it – if it’s built – it will be because it’s likely the current North River Tunnels are doomed without significant refurbishment. Might be NJT will get another 18 slots in the best case scenario. PJL or Pascack Valley getting in on that action is a whole other stretch.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 10:45 pm

All of the other lines in New Jersey have one seat rides to Penn Station if you are bright enough to look at the schedule and the train to Penn Station fits your schedule. They weren’t able to do that for Raritan Valley line riders until the ALP-45s were available. Raritan Valley line riders who want to go to Wall Street will still have a two seat ride because they change to PATH in Newark like people who are on trains from North Jersey Coast line and Trenton line trains do too. And they will still be changing to PATH in Newark until they can get a one seat ride to the Wall Street area.

lop January 17, 2015 - 11:15 pm

Amtrack could run all their trains, possibly with small schedule changes, with only one north river tube. NJTransit needs a new tunnel. Amtrak would be fine rehabbing the old ones.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 11:25 pm

NJTransit and Amtrak get by with one tunnel all the time. It’s why NJTransit’s schedule on weekends is so screwy.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 12:48 am

That they won’t be able to get by at all in a few years is a very real possibility. Somehow I don’t think the NJ bus network is up to the challenge of picking up the slack.

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 1:41 am

Nope. The run trains in an inbound window and out in the other half hour of the hour. They could probably squeeze in another train or two. They won’t offer service until they have capacity. They will run longer trains, double decked trains and let people stand instead of sitting. they haven’t had enough capacity at rush hour for almost two decades. Since 1997 if I remember correctly. Soon after Midtown Direct was opened.

AG January 18, 2015 - 12:44 pm

Just an FYI – the dynamics of the Manhattan office market are changing..


Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 1:33 pm

Interesting, but it’s probably not going to change commuter patterns much in the next generation. The firms that occupy those spaces will probably get their labor from subway users.

AG January 18, 2015 - 3:36 pm

True… also a lot also live in Hudson County and use the PATH (can’t find link for that one right now). Irony of this particular thread.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 1:23 pm

The state of New Jersey gets upset when the NYPD starts arresting people in New Jersey. So does the city and state of New York. The PATH system goes to New Jersey too.

Douglas John Bowen January 16, 2015 - 11:23 am

Mr. Kabak’s continued efforts to pull the focus back to the larger picture is appreciated, perhaps by more New Jerseyans than he might be aware of — both average citizens and political officials alike.

Kudos to him and a few others for sticking with this. I won’t (yet) say the insistence on looking larger has gained enough traction. But there is at least a sublevel “buzz” courtesy of these efforts.

Larry Greenfield January 17, 2015 - 5:35 pm

“@Larry And then what? The MTA is no stranger to being held politically hostage either. You’d just be transferring bi-state problems to another agency and making that bi-state instead, since New Jersey has about zero voice in what the MTA does right now, and the MTA operates using completely different funding mechanisms that New Jersey would have to approve. Do we need to make MTA governance more of a cesspit than it already is?”

MTA is governed by one governor so there’s far more transparency and accountability than there is a PANYNJ with its two governors and closed-to-the-public mode of operating. Thank goodness NJ has no way to meddle in the MTA. I say let the MTA handle rail transportation for the region with coordination with NJT as well as the region’s bridges and tunnels. Let the PANYNJ handle the seaports (if the agency absolutely must be kept alive). It would return the PANYNJ to its original charter. Each state can handle its own airports, with the existing FAA traffic controls. That would eliminate the duplicate management structure and expense that now exists. It would also address the crazy competition for funds that now exists and force a true regional transportation planning process.

Henry January 17, 2015 - 6:55 pm

So let me get this straight. You want a system currently mostly funded by New Jersey, covered mostly by tolls on New Jersey harbor crossings (let’s be real, the reverse commute on any of the Hudson River Crossings is probably negligible), and that is much more expensive than the subway due to federal regulations, to head over to an agency that has no political representation or funding from New Jersey, and this is supposed to be “better” than the current setup, where at least responsibilities are clearly delineated.

The MTA’s funding mechanisms do not just include tolls. Every county in the MTA region pays a set of dedicated regional taxes on everything from sales to real estate transactions to payrolls to provide a third of total MTA funding. Unless New Jersey magically agrees to this setup without adding itself to the MTA Board, this is not happening. What exactly is the rationale for putting mostly New Jersey-used services in an agency that has no accountability to New Jersey?

Larry Greenfield January 18, 2015 - 8:40 am

No. What i am saying is that the region does not benefit from an agency, PANYNJ, that:
1. duplicates functions and expertise that the MTA provides,
2. is run by two governors, each with his own agenda rather than by transportation professionals accountable to an elected official
3. is closed to public input

adirondacker12800 January 18, 2015 - 12:08 pm

How do you get the MTA to care about New Jersey? At all ever. What specific functions does the MTA do that would still be done by the MTA that are now being done by PA personnel. Like PA cops who can arrest people in New York and New Jersey.

Bolwerk January 18, 2015 - 12:37 pm

Cuomo and Christie seem to have one of the most in-sync agendas I’ve seen between the two states. Unfortunately, it’s a shared hostility to the interests of NYC and to a lesser extent the rest of each state.

Larry Greenfield January 19, 2015 - 7:04 am

Bingo! Another reason to get rid of the PA.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 11:45 am

The MTA doesn’t give a flying leap about New York except when it comes to it’s automobile bridges. Who is going to take over all the functions of the PA and why would we want to do that? what specifically, is good about getting rid of the PA?

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 11:55 am

Nothing, but it should be subordinated to the city more, maybe to the effect of making the city the tie breaker when NYS and NJ disagree about something.

PATH should never be rolled into the MTA. It should remain either with the PA or be rolled into NJ Transit. However, there is no reason not to integrate it into the subway system for the purpose of fare collection and transfers either. Accountants can figure out how to share the proceeds.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 12:09 pm

You can use the pay per ride portion of your MetroCard on PATH. If the mayor of New York can be a tie breaker the Mayor of Newark should be able to break ties too. He is invested in the operations of PATH the airport and the port more than anyone else on the New Jersey side of the river. You are then back to square one when it comes to ties.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 1:08 pm

It’s not about tit-for-tat. The reason is NYC’s interests are aligned with northern New Jersey’s more than New York State’s, and the State of New Jersey often finds itself arrayed against the interests of NYC and Northern NJ alike.

But to do it your way it would make more sense to give NYC 5 votes and give Newark, JC, Hoboken, Weehawken, and Fort Lee one vote each. Or something. Better to actually encourage tie-breaking.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 1:43 pm

what makes Weehawken and Fort Lee so special? Why not Kearny and Harrison where there are PATH tracks? And Harrison that has to put up with big ugly parking lots so suburbanites can go to Harrison and pay to park to use the PATH station in Harrison. You do realize that Harrison has as many PATH stations as Hoboken.

My life is much more pleasant when I avoid assholes or idiots and I’m not in the mood to try to figure out which you are or if you are both when it comes to the Port Authority. You’re right and I’m wrong and I’m gonna go have lunch.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 2:19 pm

They’re all fairly large communities heavily impacted by PA planning or economic decisions. All of them together maybe add up to the population size of a bit more than Staten Island alone, so given them together equal weight to NYC is more than generous.

But I don’t really see what was “asshole” with my original suggestion. NYC is a gorilla-size stakeholder, roughly equal in population size to New Jersey alone and probably has twice the number of people impacted by the PA than north Jersey.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 3:27 pm

try again. As of the 2010 census there are 12,554 people in Weehawken, 35,345 in Fort Lee, 13,620 in Harrison, 40,684 in Kearny.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 5:09 pm

Eh, I know their populations, thank you very much. New Jersey municipalities are largely postage stamps.

You didn’t seem to care about magnitude before. Weehawken is about 4.5% the size of Newark, and Newark is about 3.2% the size of NYC. Split a vote between Harrison and Weehawken if it please you. It’s naught to me.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 5:55 pm

Weehawken doesn’t get payments in lieu of taxes from Newark Airport either. And while people in Weehawken are free to work at Newark Airport, Newark Airport is the biggest employment center in Newark. Even bigger than downtown Newark. I have to go to the supermarket.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 7:28 pm

All those municipalities get bridge and tunnel traffic pooped into them.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 8:07 pm

So do Kearny and Newark from the Skyway. I don’t care anymore. You are omniscient.

Larry Greenfield January 19, 2015 - 8:54 pm

Doesn’t your statement that “The MTA doesn’t give a flying leap about New York” overlook New York City Transit (bus and subway), the Long Island Railroad and Metro North? Don’t these massive operations dwarf PATH and the AirTrain operations?
As I’ve said before, PANYNJ rail, bridge and tunnel functions are all things that the MTA does better and without political scandal; it could certainly assume them from PANYNJ. That leaves the sea and air ports. I suppose PANYNJ could handle that but who’s mission would include transportation to the airports? I say either leave that mission to each state or give it to the MTA, at least for NY airports.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 8:58 pm

You are all omniscient and I bow to your omniscience.

Bolwerk January 19, 2015 - 11:03 pm

Mmm, adirondacker’s butt is made all hert. 🙁

I don’t really care too much about organization, but I don’t think you’ll find many solutions in taking one operation and moving it to another organization. Or in combining organizations or splitting them or whatever. No amount of hierarchical rejiggering has fixed things yet! The fundamental problems are culture, people, processes, etc.

adirondacker12800 January 19, 2015 - 11:05 pm

I had a delightful dinner.

Larry Greenfield January 20, 2015 - 9:28 am

I don’t know that any hierarchical rejiggering has been tried, so I don’t see how it could have fixed anything.

I do believe in the necessity of a solid professional organization with clear lines of authority and accountability in any endeavor. That’s how the problems of culture, people and processes get resolved constructively. We don’t have that with the PANYNJ, particularly when it becomes a political dumping ground.

adirondacker12800 January 17, 2015 - 7:22 pm

Whoppee. Instead of the paychecks drawn on the Port Authority’s checking account they would be drawn on someone else’s checking account. Whoopee. It might even cost more because there would be duplicate upper middle management that doesn’t exist with it all being one agency. There would definitely be higher police costs because the only people who can arrest someone on the PATH system, everywhere in New Jersey, are New Jersey State Police. The PATH trains operate in Jersey City, Hoboken, Kearny and Harrison. All in Hudson County. Newark is in Essex County. New Jersey gets upset if NYPD are planning on arresting people in New Jersey regularly as does the city of New York. Not using the PA police means coordinating police services between 6 municipalities spread over three counties and two states. Each of the airports is still going to have a general manager and anything lower on the org chart. So is PATH. So are the bus terminals. and the port of Newark and Elizabeth. and there is probably enough PATH cars that it makes sense to have a maintenance facility in Hudson County. Assuming there is enough space in Subway storage yards for them. And the PATH system connected to the IRT. It doesn’t. Or even the IND or BMT. It doesn’t.


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