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nyland8

Underutilized PATH ?!?!?

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Hello to all,

 

I'm new to the forum, so I have no idea how to post questions about mass transit around NYC - and I have hundreds of questions. But among the most pressing is this: Why does the PATH system still exist? It would seem obvious to anyone who can read a map that we all live in what is essentially a single metropolitan area with high population density. Shouldn't PATH be subsumed into the MTA - making it one integrated subway system?

 

I know it has nothing to do with interstate jurisdiction. NJ Transit trains run into New York. Metro North lines run through New Jersey, and throughout Connecticut. Amtrak goes everywhere - and all of this interstate activity happens without the oversight or approval of the Port Authority. What do we need PATH for?

 

It just seems like it would make a great deal of sense for someone on the Grand Concourse to swipe their Metro Card one time to get to Newark Airport. Or for someone in Jersey City or Hoboken to do the same thing to get to a Met or Yankee game.

 

From an engineering standpoint, the integration of those two systems would not pose any problems greater than - say, the integration of the BRT/BMT, IRT, and IND once did - and they've all been on the same map for many decades.

 

It just seems like one of the obvious solution to future regional mass transit problems is to start with a single subway system.

 

Any thoughts or insights?

 

Thanks

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As I understand it, PATH is an entity owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That interstate agency is NOT part of New Jersey Transit, so I would never have guessed NJT to be the correct forum.

 

Are the forum divisions explained anywhere on this website, or do you just know from experience?

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As I understand it, PATH is an entity owned and operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. That interstate agency is NOT part of New Jersey Transit, so I would never have guessed NJT to be the correct forum.

 

Are the forum divisions explained anywhere on this website, or do you just know from experience?

 

You could ask in Regional Transit System Forum, where they discussed about transit across USA.

http://www.nyctransitforums.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=149

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Hello to all,

 

I'm new to the forum, so I have no idea how to post questions about mass transit around NYC - and I have hundreds of questions. But among the most pressing is this: Why does the PATH system still exist? It would seem obvious to anyone who can read a map that we all live in what is essentially a single metropolitan area with high population density. Shouldn't PATH be subsumed into the MTA - making it one integrated subway system?

 

I know it has nothing to do with interstate jurisdiction. NJ Transit trains run into New York. Metro North lines run through New Jersey, and throughout Connecticut. Amtrak goes everywhere - and all of this interstate activity happens without the oversight or approval of the Port Authority. What do we need PATH for?

 

It just seems like it would make a great deal of sense for someone on the Grand Concourse to swipe their Metro Card one time to get to Newark Airport. Or for someone in Jersey City or Hoboken to do the same thing to get to a Met or Yankee game.

 

From an engineering standpoint, the integration of those two systems would not pose any problems greater than - say, the integration of the BRT/BMT, IRT, and IND once did - and they've all been on the same map for many decades.

 

It just seems like one of the obvious solution to future regional mass transit problems is to start with a single subway system.

 

Any thoughts or insights?

 

Thanks

 

Welcome aboard, and FamousNYLover is right; the general rule is to ask questions about different parts of our transit system in the forum most closely dedicated to that part; PATH is sort of lumped in under NJ Transit even though it's a separate entity. Services besides NYC stuff, NJT, PATH, and Amtrak go in the Regional Transit Systems forum (USA) or the World Transit Systems forum (outside the US) As to your question:

 

Integrating PATH into the NYC subway system would be really nice from a logistical standpoint, but it would also pose a hell of a challenge. As far as engineering is concerned, PATH would be fairly expensive to integrate, namely because the loading gauge for their cars is almost exactly halfway in between that of A Division cars and that of their B Division cousins, the stations typically fit seven and eight cars rather than the usual ten, and the tubes contain quite a few turns too tight for B division cars to navigate. That leaves us with two options: operate PATH as a separate entity with a separate fleet, rearrange the fare zones at connecting stations, and create either an out-of-system transfer akin to the arrangement between the (4)(5)(6)(N)(R)(W) and the (F) at 59 St or build a passage between the WTC PATH station and Fulton St, or actually tie it into the IRT network, which would mean embarking on a massive station modification plan to allow the infrastructure to accept 510' IRT trains even before actual construction of new trackage begins. The former would probably cost a few million upfront in construction and leave you with an orphan line and fleet to maintain similar to the SIR. The latter could easily cost nine or ten figures by the time you're done, but would allow you to run thru trains from the outer boroughs to and from NJ should it become profitable.

 

The other issue with integrating PATH into the subway system is that PATH is neither fish nor fowl. While its length, station style and frequency, schedule, rolling stock, etc. are all subway-like, PATH is technically a railroad and subject to federal railroad laws. These laws are many and varied and include things like rolling stock specifications and weights, the presence of grab irons on rolling stock, and the exclusive use of federally certified engineers to operate all trains. This is in place because PATH used to be an actual railroad with track connections to the NEC (to this day PATH takes the outer two of six tracks south of Kearny while NJT rail and Amtrak use the inner four), even though those connections have been mostly if not completely severed now. The NYC subway system is not and was never considered a railroad and does not have to follow these rules. If PATH is connected to the IRT, then either the IRT would have to be brought up to FRA specs or PATH would have to resign its status as a railroad. The former option would be very expensive due to rolling stock overhauls, worker retraining and certification, etc. The latter option would probably be possible, but it would permanently bar PATH from connecting to or using the national rail network, including the NEC and NJT rail lines. This then means that any further expansion of PATH into NJ would require a dedicated ROW rather than merely using existing trackage where possible, and would make service expansion extremely expensive.

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I appreciate the insights - especially the one about the distinction between the subway system and federally recognized "railroads". In an ideal world, they should at least be able to share a right-of-way. I can't help but suspect that there must be at least some opportunities for expansion of the PATH lines in New Jersey that doesn't run afoul of those distinctions. And I suspect that there are many abandoned corridors that can be acquired and, essentially, taken off the federal grid, confining them to serve an expanded subway system.

 

And all of this does and will cost money. I appreciate that. But in my mind, I would weigh that cost against the alternatives presented by not doing it. It would seem that they cost much, much more.

 

A recent case in point is Christie's squashing of the ARC project. From the standpoint of NJTransit, it makes perfect sense to design and build the ARC - because from their perspective, almost their entire system serves the single paradigm of pumping people into and out of Manhattan. So, with that viewpoint, you wind up buying into the belief that the solution to your problem is hollowing out a skyscraper's square footage under midtown Manhattan to essentially double your capacity to fulfill your mandate. Result? You end up creating an underground behemoth that costs five times as much as the tunneling project that serves it. And, in the end, the overwhelming preponderance of its users still wind up taking the subway from that single connecting point.

 

Alternative? Spend the same amount of money expanding the subway system out to five different New Jersey locations, relieving the growing congestion, but in a decentralized way. And two of those five corridors should use the already extant PATH system - but revamped to better integrate with the MTA. They wouldn't have to run their stock on MTA track. They would just have to consider their expansion in terms of the greater whole - not just the limitations and interests of PATH. And that can't happen - that won't happen - as long as PATH continues to exist as an entity separate from the MTA.

 

One example is the already mentioned extension of the WTC line to meet the 2nd Avenue subway at the east end of the Fulton St. hub. Another, and more intriguing one, is extending the already existing tunnel at 9th Street in Manhattan to connect to the hub under Union Square Park. Seven different trains run through that subterranean nexus, including access to the east side - and it's only one short stop away. Because of what it does in the distance it does it, that would be an obvious project for the MTA to jump on - IF it could do as it pleased with the PATH system.

 

As far as rolling stock goes, they already run an A division and a B division. With the potential benefits to the entire region, and the overcrowded public it serves, is operating a C division really out of the question? Absorbing the growing influx of workers into the boroughs would be easier on commuters if everyone didn't have to funnel into one place, before then being redistributed throughout the NYC transit system. And in the end, it will turn out to be a cheaper alternative to creating yet another massive hub under Manhattan - from which everybody still has to ride the subway to get where they're going.

 

Three million people don't work within walking distance from Penn Station. They live everywhere - they work everywhere - and we should have mass transit that goes everywhere.

 

It will get folks where they're going quicker - and be cheaper!

 

Thanks again for the insights.

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No problem, and I appreciate your ideas as well. Running PATH as a semiautonomous C Division that still met all necessary FRA standards for interoperability with railroads would be a great idea, as is expanding NYC Subway service into more parts of New Jersey. I do agree with you that routing all commuters through NYP is not the smartest nor the most efficient means of handling trans-Hudson transport, and a decentralized subway-style system is better than having one giant hub. Subway services in the metro area do best under one provider; my only question is whether or not the MTA in its current form is that provider. PATH is cleaner, better maintained, and cheaper to use than the subway in its current form and I would much prefer if the NYC subway were held to PATH's standards rather than hiking the fare and allowing PATH to deteriorate to (MTA)'s current standards.

 

I do agree, through, that the FRA needs to keep pace with Europe as far as allowable train designs, interoperability, etc. There is no reason that heavy rail equipment like that used on the NYC subway should be banned from a corridor primarily used by commuter and regional trains; our equipment is generally very sturdy, and a ten-car train of R160s weighs about the same as a six-car single level train which means they'd have roughly the same momentum in the event of a collision and wouldn't merely be flattened.

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From the standpoint of my vision, it doesn't matter if the MTA or the PA runs the show - as long as it's run by a single entity that actually has the best interests of the region factored into its big budget projects. It has to be able to see outside its own narrow interests - in a way that NJTransit wasn't able to. Of course, it's possible that PATH's relative "successes" compared to the MTA are a function of its size. Maybe anyone who runs a city subway with over 6,200 cars would have the MTA's problems - even the Port Authority. But I digress.

 

What's so impressive about Bloomberg's simple response to Christie's obstruction is that he understands that, when it's all boiled down, the single biggest purpose of the ARC project was to distribute NJ commuters across the MTA's Manhattan trunk lines. With nothing at stake politically, he was willing to pose the obvious question: "Doesn't running the 7 Line across to Secaucus Transfer achieve essentially the same results? In fact, doesn't it do it better? - and at a fraction of the price?"

 

And once that leap in reasoning has been made - the one that envisions the subway system across the Hudson - then so many other things become possible.

 

But many of those possibilities are impeded by the PATH system's narrow self-interest - so their trans-Hudson tubes remain underutilized.

 

I'll try to find a more appropriate forum to pose more questions and proffer more ideas.

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What I think PATH should do is be taken over by the MTA, and stations redesigned so that there are free transfers between the 6 Av Subway/WTC and PATH. Also raise their fare to match NYCT fare.

 

No changes to train operations, except maybe enhancements in weekend service.

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No way should New Jersey give up PATH to the New YORK mta. At this point the governor of New Jersey can control what PATH does and what PATH costs. NJ has no say whatsoever in whatever the MTA does. PATH is a New Jersey connection to New York City from New Jersey points. What is the possible advantage to anyone in New Jersey to NEW YORK control over this connection?

Would a PATH connection to Newark Airport be nice? Maybe but NOT at the regular PATH fare. There is a good connection from the airport to Newark Penn Station and New York Penn station now. But there is a surcharge to or from the airport via NJT Rail, which is fine with me.

And about the folly known as the ARC tunnel: Why bypass the main westside transit hub [Penn Station] for a new station connecting to nothing. If you want a new two track tunnel to an expanded Penn Station from New Jersey, fine. But New Jersey should not pay for it. New York gets the income tax from NJ to NYC commuters and what co$t$ do these commuters add to NYC? Seems like a one way deals for New York.

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Port Authority is a bi-state agency based in New York City. It is not in any way connected to NJT, or grouped with it. PATH does however except (MTA) PPR MetroCard.

 

PANYNJ is essentially an NYC agency that operates the ports of both NY, and NY.

 

Therefore, in all actuallity, there is no need in merging PATH with anything. It operates just fine the way it is. My only suggestion would be to start selling transfers to NYCT, and NJT.

 

 

In other news......

 

The Port Authority has allocated $31 million to conduct a feasibility study of extending PATH two miles (3.2 km) south of Newark Penn Station to Newark Liberty International Airport.

 

If the project is deemed to be possible from an engineering, operational, and financial standpoint, the Port Authority would include funding for the project in its Capital Plan. The extension to Newark Airport was estimated in 2004 to cost $500 million.

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@East New York

 

$500 MILLION ! Wow !! That sounds like a staggering sum of money. After all, what we're talking about is extending an existing railroad along an already existing right-of-way the distance of a single stop. Where would all of that money go?!? Does it cost several hundred million dollars to run a third rail for 2 miles?

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@East New York

 

$500 MILLION ! Wow !! That sounds like a staggering sum of money. After all, what we're talking about is extending an existing railroad along an already existing right-of-way the distance of a single stop. Where would all of that money go?!? Does it cost several hundred million dollars to run a third rail for 2 miles?

 

Yes a 2 mile Extension to the Airport with 2 Stops...and a few viaducts...

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