Long Recovery for Hoboken PATH

Major portions of the region’s transportation structure remain out of service or limited 6 weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated the infrastructure.  In many cases, the public has received little information about just what has been damaged, how it’s being repaired, or when normal service might improve.

One of the hardest-hit installations was the Hoboken station of the PATH rapid-transit system, a key link for NJ Transit commuters.  The station remains closed, with no date announced for its reopening.  However, following a tour for reporters conducted by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, PATH’s owner, some basic information about the disaster is now available, according to reporting by Steve Strunsky in the Star-Ledger  (Nov. 28).  Two days after Sandy’s storm surge flooded the station, workers were still trying to assess the damage, as pump operator Tom O’Neill rode a police boat in the flooded tunnels, searching for control valves for the pumps that could begin to empty the tunnels.  Starting the pumps required O’Neill, against advice, to work blindly in 4′ of salt water; he eventually got a backup pump going, and the water began to be pumped out.  Once workers could inspect critical track and signal components, they found $300 million worth of damage.  Old electrical relay technology is being replaced with microprocessors, wire with fiber optics, and the equipment room that contained critical components will now have a waterproof door “obtained from the Navy”.  It would be better to move the electrical equipment above ground, but barring a complete rebuild of the entire system that seems impractical.  Acting PATH director Stephen Kingsberry said Sandy was “the worst storm we have ever seen”—worst so far, but no one was willing to bet it won’t happen again, or even worse.

As of mid-January 2013, PATH service was still operating on a reduced 24-hour schedule.  On weekdays, 5 a.m.–10 p.m., trains operate between Hoboken and 33rd St, between 33rd St. and Journal Square, and between Newark and World Trade Center.  Overnight and all day on weekends and holidays, there is no service to World Trade Center; trains operate at those times between Journal Square and 33rd St via Hoboken, and between Newark and Journal Square.  There is no direct service between Hoboken and World Trade Center at any time.

NJT Changes Weekend Bike Rules Again

New Jersey Transit has changed the rules for bicycles on weekend trains again.  The ban on bikes applies only between Secaucus and Penn Station, New York, so riders can take a bike on the train between points within New Jersey.  Riders cannot take bicycles to Penn Station on trains that leave Dover after 7:05 a.m. and before 11:05 a.m.  In the afternoon and evening, the 4:11 from Penn Station is the last train until 8:11 that can take bikes.
The newly-relaxed rule does not provide much help to riders on the Morris & Essex Line.  PATH allows bikes at all times on weekends, but the only connection between the M&E and PATH is at Hoboken, which is served by Montclair trains, which only run every 2 hours.  It is not practical for riders to use the train between Hoboken and Secaucus, because the waiting time between trains at Secaucus is at least 45 minutes.
The Lackawanna Coalition has called for hourly service between Montclair and Hoboken, to provide a Hoboken connection for all M&E trains on weekends.

June 14: PATH Closure Ends at 7 p.m.

Conditions were returning to normal at about 7 p.m. on June 14, as PATH service to World Trade Center resumed following President Obama’s visit.  The service had been interrupted for about 4 hours as commuters sought alternative routes; NJ Transit was cross-honoring tickets among bus, NJT train, and PATH until 7:30 p.m.  Reportedly, a significant number of PATH commuters were unaware of the closing and arrived at WTC, only to be directed to subways uptown.  During the disruption there was no PATH service at World Trade Center or at Exchange Place, Jersey City; PATH ran enhanced service on the 33rd Street line.