Delivering on a significant portion of its long-term $3.3 billion commitment to modernize the PATH system, the Port Authority joined by New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine today officially inaugurated service for its new rail cars.
The first seven cars of the new 340-train fleet are now on the tracks, kicking off the bi-state agency's modernization program that also will eventually include a new signal system and station upgrades.
Gov. Corzine toured the new seven-car train at the Journal Square PATH Station before it began its ceremonial trip to Hoboken.
"For nearly 50 years, New Jersey commuters have relied on PATH to provide safe, convenient transportation to work, school and recreation events," Gov. Corzine said. "These new cars should convince even more people to take advantage of this public transit service, which will unclog our roads and provide much needed environmental benefits for the region."
Serving as conductor on the train was Bob Garcia, who celebrates his 40th anniversary with PATH this year.
Going from one of the nation's oldest fleets of railcars to one of the newest is Exhibit A in meeting the PATH modernization program's goals. Eventually, the improvements will increase capacity by 20 percent on a system that provided nearly 75 million rider trips in 2008.
The new rail car purchase, coupled with the updated signal system and station upgrades, is part of the Port Authority's renewed focus on expanding and modernizing the region's public transit system to meet the needs of the 21st century and beyond. In addition to the PATH program, the Port Authority also has committed $3 billion to the $8.7 billion ARC passenger rail tunnel, which broke ground in June.
In addition to new customer amenities, the new cars also have state-of-the-art safety systems, including a sophisticated braking system, an on-board camera system and event recorders required by new Federal Railroad Administration regulations.
The entire fleet of new rail cars, being built by Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., is scheduled to be in service by 2011.
Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, "Our region needs a modern mass transit system that can support our economic growth for the next century. That's why the Port Authority is making the largest investment, by a substantial amount, in the PATH system since we took it over almost a half century ago."
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said, "Building a bigger and better public transportation system is good for the region, and it's what the Port Authority is all about. These new cars will help fulfill our commitment to modernize PATH, and to find a way for it to carry all of the passengers who want to use it well into the future."
Port Authority Deputy Executive Director Susan Bass Levin said, "Despite the current economic climate, we expect PATH ridership to grow over time, and it is our responsibility to plan for that long-range growth now. The new cars we will begin to put into service today, coupled with the new signal-system and 10-car platforms, will allow us to increase PATH's capacity by 20 percent, which will allow us to accommodate new riders now and well into the future."
The new cars will have three doors on each side to allow for faster loading and unloading; on-board news and information video; closed-circuit television recording capability; improved lighting, air conditioning and heating; prerecorded station announcements; better signs; and the capability for passengers to communicate with the crew.
The cars are part of PATH's 10-year modernization program, designed to turn it from one of the oldest mass transit systems in the country to one of the newest. When the new cars are all in service and the new signal system is installed, it will increase the capacity on the PATH system by 20 percent.
In addition to the new cars and signal system, PATH also plans to build a new station in Harrison and to make major improvements at its other stations to accommodate 10-car trains, upgrade aging infrastructure, and improve pedestrian flow.
PATH also is taking other measures to upgrade its system. They are:
- Installation of a new public address system in its stations. The system is currently being tested, and final installation is expected by 2011.
- Installation of 770 new variable, static and directional signs to make the stations easier to navigate.
- Installation of photomurals featuring local landmarks in the PATH stations.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Ron Marsico or Jen Friedberg, 212 435-7777
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia, Stewart International and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Port Authority Auto Marine Terminal; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; the Greenville Yard-Port Authority Marine Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan and is a partner in the Access to the Region's Core tunnel project.