Public transportation across the Hudson River is in crisis. The Northeast Corridor, Penn Station, and the Port Authority Bus Terminal all suffer frequent service failures, serve many times the number of people they were built to handle, and need major repairs to prevent a catastrophe. The Hudson River tunnels are over 100 years old and were severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Penn Station has been partially closed this summer for emergency repairs, and still fails to adequately serve the 150,000 trans-Hudson commuters who use it every day. Riders using the Port Authority Bus Terminal suffer from long lines, frequent delays and obsolete facilities. Each of these facilities is already handling too many people; cannot serve the economies of New York, New Jersey and a growing region; and could give out with little advance warning.
Any loss of transit capacity across the Hudson River would be devastating for the more than half-a-million people who commute between New Jersey and New York, put intolerable pressure on the remaining facilities, and jeopardize the economic health of the entire region.
To date, only piecemeal solutions have been proposed to address these problems. A much better outcome could be achieved through a series of complementary investments that address the problems of the system as a whole. These investments can address the inadequacies of the current facilities; create capacity for much more robust economic growth; and greatly improve service and reduce travel times on both sides of the Hudson River.
Trans-Hudson travel is expected to increase substantially over the next two decades, creating the need for new capacity well beyond what the existing facilities can offer. Work trips to Manhattan alone could increase by 24% by 2040 – an additional 72,000 commuters every day. Trips to all of New York City would grow even faster, by 38% over 2015, primarily because of rapid job growth in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. To accommodate this increase in demand, the region’s leaders must plan ahead by prioritizing to high-capacity rail options, even while combatting the current crisis.
The benefits of acting now and adopting these recommendations are abundant. By revitalizing this region’s public transportation networks, planners and policy makers will ensure that the tri-state area remains economically competitive and culturally vibrant for generations to come.
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