Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Plan To Extend 7 Train To NJ Back In The News; Still A Good Idea, Still No Money To Do So

A possible alignment. Parsons Brinckerhoff via
So, the NYC EDC issued a new report that says extending the 7 train to NJ is a good idea.  A couple of things. First, I think the proposed Gateway project should take precedent over the 7 train extension proposal - not that it should be one or the other, but just in ordering priorities. 
Second, I'm agnostic on what the alignment of such an extension should look like.  And third, there absolutely should be MTA subway service into northeastern NJ. New York's "Sixth Borough" is a natural fit for a comprehensive 24-hour metropolitan rapid transit system. PATH ought to be integrated into the system as well. 
A report commissioned by New York City, posted this morning on the city's Economic Development Corp. website, extols the benefits of the plan.
"The extension of the No. 7 Subway would result in the first trans-Hudson tunnel connection that would provide direct rail access from New Jersey, not only to the West Side of Manhattan, but also to the East Side and multiple locations in Queens," noted the report by the Parsons Brinckerhoff engineering firm. "It would provide needed capacity across the Hudson River and advance the broader goal of enhancing regional connectivity."The report, obtained Tuesday night by The Star-Ledger, noted the next step would be an advanced study on the feasibility of extending the No. 7 subway line — which runs from Queens to Times Square — into Secaucus Junction. Coordinated with the Federal Transit Administration, the study would include a cost benefit analysis, identification of financing opportunities and analysis of ridership and revenue."It's been a century since there was a new rail tunnel under the Hudson, and demand for travel between New Jersey and Manhattan is growing rapidly and quickly exceeding the capacity of existing transit infrastructure," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today in a statement. "The lack of new transit investment is creating a serious and urgent threat to New York City's economic competitiveness. Extending the 7 train to Secaucus is a promising potential solution – it would leverage existing investments and be compatible with other proposed projects – and is deserving of serious consideration."
Of course this raises the question of how to equitably pay for such assets.  The MTA does not have the money to do so.  We need to take a hard look at the structure of both the MTA and the Port Authority and how we can best manage transportation in the NYC metro area.  Along with a restructuring of those two agencies, it's long past time to bring back the Commuter Tax to replace the poorly designed Payroll Mobility Tax.  There are a lot of different conversations we need to have about how we best plan and fund infrastructure on a sensible, equitable, regional basis. I view this report as an opportunity to get those conversations started again.

Story found via Gothamist.

No comments: