Regional Plan Association released a report entitled Crossing the Hudson: How to Increase Transit Capacity and Improve Commutes containing recommendations for fundamentally transforming public transportation linking New York and New Jersey. The report argues that to meet demand for trans-Hudson travel over the next generation, a bus terminal should be built in the basement of the Javits Convention Center and the Gateway project to build two new tracks from New Jersey to New York should extend to Sunnyside, Queens. These recommendations are one component of RPA’s long-term vision for the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area contained in its fourth regional plan.

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.

RPA’s report lays out a plan to tackle the trans-Hudson crisis by committing to a multi-faceted plan across all modes, including:

  • Build a second bus terminal in the basement of the Javits Center to consolidate all intercity buses, connect to the 7-line subway station and Hudson Yards, and ease overcrowding at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
  • Start construction on the Gateway Project and accelerate the timeline for its completion to ease the current crisis and avert a transportation disaster if and when the almost 110-year-old current tunnels fail.
  • Extend Gateway to Sunnyside Yards in Queens through two new East River tunnels combined with a new station at Third Avenue and 31st Street to allow for higher-capacity through-running service at Penn Station and connect passengers directly to the East Side.
  • Construct a new and expanded Penn Station Complex including Moynihan Station and a "Penn South" expansion to create a unified station from 30th to 33rd streets and both sides of 8th Avenue, while moving Madison Square Garden to make way for a superior passenger experience

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.

Read the full report.