At the very start of the New Year, a proposal was announced that would address a growing issue regarding the operational services of the PATH and would save the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey an estimated $10 million a year. However, this plan it is being met with great opposition due to what will need to be sacrificed in order to save some money.
In-between the years of 2004 to 2013, the PATH’s operating service’s deficit has grown an estimated 30%, according to a report released in 2014 by the Citizens Budget Commission. Because of this, in late December a panel was created consisting of Governors Andrew Cuomo & Chris Christie along with leaders of the Port Authority in order to discuss solutions to the increasing deficit of the PATH trains services.
From this meeting a proposal has been announced that claims it will save the Port Authority some money each year, but will require the cutting of overnight services—from 1 AM to 5 AM—of the PATH train.
According to the report created from the panel, eliminating overnight PATH service will not truly be an issue because at the time period mentioned above ridership “substantially falls” so ending the services between those 5 hours will achieve “operational and capital savings estimated to be at least $10 million per year.”
Also in the report, to make up for the lack of train service there would be the possibility of offering buses as alternatives for those who use the PATH within those hours.
And that is where the opposition comes in.
During the panel meeting it was determined that the hours chosen is when the PATH’s use by the public is essentially lower than any other time period, but as of yesterday—according to an online petition against the proposal—close to 3,000 supporters have to disagree.
“Thousands of families depend on the PATH train: the overnight service allows residents and visitors to spend more time at their destination instead of commuting,” said Ronald Bautista of Citizens for Hoboken, a Facebook page created by Bautista and devoted to acting as a platform where members of the Hoboken community can come together and address other issues that may need solutions.
Currently, the Citizens for Hoboken have a petition addressed to Governor Christie & Port Authority Chairman John Degnan wanting the two key figures behind the proposal to see how many people are against this plan to end to the current plan to end overnight PATH services.
“Thousands of families depend on the PATH train,” adds Bautista, “the overnight service allows residents and visitors to spend more time at their destination instead of commuting.”
And this is actually truer than the findings within the report themselves. When people started to hear about the proposed cuts, most of the commuters on the PATH were shocked by the plan. While it may seem like the late night hour services may not be packed, they actually are. Around 2 AM you may expect to find most PATH trains crowded within New York City heading back into New Jersey.
“Myself and my kids use the PATH often after hours. I am a full time working musician who plays in New York, without the PATH service, I would have to drive into NY, incurring tolls and parking fees that significantly cut into the money I make. I have two young adult sons that travel to Brooklyn and Manhattan for the night life and for work,” writes John Bauers, of Jersey City, who signed the petition, “They could not do this without PATH, as neither of them drive. We need to be forward thinking in terms of public transportation, not backward in making us more dependent on automobiles than we already are. Think of the citizens of this state, Mr. Christie.”
On the weekdays it may not seem far too packed considering it is a typical weekday, and the only riders you may see on the PATH are people heading home from work or to work from home depending on their schedule.
“I’ve lived in Hoboken for 20 years and 24 hour Path service is indispensable to me. I would never have moved to Hoboken if there WASN’T 24 access and I have to contemplate leaving if it will be no more,” writes another petition signer, Paul Paulson of Hoboken, “Forcing people to rely on car or bus transport at night is a horrible, short-sighted idea—easily doubling or tripling the time and cost of getting home at late night or going to work early in the morning. This proposal reflects very badly on the governors of NJ and NY and tells us that they have little understanding of their constituent’s needs and of economic reality—There is far more to be lost in closing the Path at night than will be gained in savings”.
But on the weekend, the PATH can get into a gridlock within a certain period of the night. So, if the proposed plans do go through not only are you cutting of people from commuting into NYC or NJ but you’re essentially taking profit away from both Hudson County and the city.
“We’ll probably stay in Hoboken instead of going into the city,” said Eugene LaBuz from Hoboken. “There’s no way we’re getting back to Hoboken from the city before 1 a.m. on the weekend. It’s not possible.”
While there is a heavy show of opposition to the proposed cuts, the Port Authority is still tightrope-walking the fence between “will they or won’t they” cut the services. In statements made regarding the cuts, there appears to be just talk to cut PATH services.
“Curtailment of PATH service would be a last resort,” said Degnan, in a statement he made on January 5th regarding the proposed cut, “This is only one of several ideas being considered to get the PATH deficit under control.”
Degnan also added in his statement that PATH service would only be cut after the Port Authority received word from local elected-officials and public hearings that are held to discuss the matter. And so far, even if it is just talk the people are speaking out against the proposed cuts.
“That idea should not even be considered,” said Bautista, in-response to the statement made by Degnan, “More than 2,300 residents have made their voices heard: we request Port Authority to take that idea off the table because it is bad for working families, bad for businesses, and affects our quality of life.”
In the report created from the panel, and according to Degnan himself, the idea to cut overnight PATH services is just one idea. However, it takes just one idea that’s been repeated or talked about more which is a reason to be concerned because it could be the strongest possibility. According to the report, other ideas included increasing the advertising revenue and applying for federal subsidies that could be given by the Federal Transit Administration.
“The Port Authority’s $10 million in potential savings is an extremely small percentage of its $7 billion budget. Solutions for this challenge need to start by making Port Authority more transparent and audit its efficiency,” said Bautista, commenting on “Every solution that’s considered also needs to take into consideration the economic and social impact it will have in the community.”
With other plans reportedly on the table, people are pushing for the Governors and members of the Port Authority should reconvene and work on those discussed and seemingly ignored because—for them—the cutting of services offered to the people seems to be the fit in their eyes.
While there is no slated plan that the PATH services will be cut, that does not mean people will not stop being heard. So far, the petition has drawn in close to 3,000 signers from people living in New Jersey & New York City who find the proposed plan to do more harm than actual good.
To sign the petition, and have the PATH train remain in service as it is supposed to, click the link here to sign and have your voice heard.