Despite an ongoing weekend shutdown of World Trade Center service, PATH may miss its own safety program deadlines, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal by Ted Mann (March 21). The 45-weekend shutdown is needed, PATH said, to allow it to meet deadlines to install “positive train control” (PTC) technology by December, 2015. The advanced safety system was mandated by Congress for commuter railroads after a fatal train wreck in California in 2008, attributed to engineer inattention. Proponents say that wreck, and other accidents such as a recent fatal derailment on Metro-North in the Bronx, could have been prevented by PTC.
Weekend service on the PATH transit system to World Trade Center and Exchange Place, Jersey City, will be suspended entirely for most weekends in 2014, starting February 14. The suspensions will begin around midnight Friday night; service will resume at approximately 4:45 a.m. on Mondays. Additional trains will run on the 33rd St.—Journal Square (via Hoboken) route; Newark service will operate only as far as Journal Square. Exceptions to the suspension may be made on major holiday weekends. The service suspension, PATH says, is necessary for work on the signal system, and security enhancement, and for post-Sandy flood resilience improvements.
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The new one-ride fare on PATH is $2.50, effective October 1. PATH fares for a single ride are thus equal to NYC subway and bus fares, although the PATH system is much smaller than New York City’s. Free transfers to and from buses—a feature of the city system— are not included, nor are free transfers between PATH and city lines. Ten-trip tickets for 10, 20, and 40 PATH rides cost $1.90 per ride; unlimited-ride passes are priced at $7.50 for one day, $26 for 7 days, and $80 for 30 days; these passes can be used only once each 18 minutes at a given station, so multiple people can’t use the same pass at the same time. Senior fares (65 and older) remain at $1.00, but a special, personalized PATH smart card is required to secure this rate. New York Metrocards are also usable to ride PATH; the Metrocard must have per-ride value on it, and $2.50 will be deducted for each ride. PATH machines also issue MetroCards, but as in the machines on NYC subway stations, a new MetroCard will incur a $1 charge in addition to any value added.
NJ’s Gov. Christie might require PATH service to Newark Liberty Airport—but only if United Airlines agrees to beef up service at Atlantic City. The airline has balked, according to reporting by Ted Mann in the Wall Street Journal (Sept. 30). If the long-contemplated PATH extension were to be built, it would likely go only to the Newark Liberty Airport rail station, not to the airline terminals, which would require riders to use the AirTrain monorail service.
When the modern terminals at Newark were built, long-time observers recall, they were originally designed for rapid-transit service (PATH) at the terminals themselves, but extending PATH to the terminals would cost a lot more, perhaps $3 billion compared to $1 billion for the simpler plan. The state favors better airline service at Atlantic City, which is currently served only by Spirit Airlines, with 14 scheduled weekday flights; United seems disinclined to enter the market, especially since improved access to EWR might benefit its competitors more: United’s flights are already mostly full. One advocate of the PATH extension is Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who figures that with the PATH extension, local residents would be allowed to use it—though there is currently good rail service at the EWR rail station, local and auto access to the facility is not available, with the only ongoing transportation available being the AirTrain, which has a hefty fee built into rail tickets to the station.
The PATH rapid-transit system will impose a fare increase of about 13%, effective Monday, Oct. 1 (at 3 a.m.). Single and 2-trip fares will rise from $2.00 to $2.25 per ride; multiple-ride tickets will increase from $1.50 to $1.70 a trip. Passes will also increase: 7-day unlimited passes will go from $21 to $24, and 30-day unlimited passes will go from $65 to $73. Senior fares (over age 65) will remain at $1.00; these require a personalized Senior Smart Link card, issued without charge by PATH.