Extending No. 7 train into N.J. could prove a realistic endeavor

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The idea of extending the No. 7 train to New Jersey was proposed during the preliminary EIS phase of the Access to the Region’s Core project and was rejected for two reasons:

1. It did not constitute the one-seat ride that New Jersey commuters were thought to insist on and

2. It was politically complicated

The first is partially valid but ignores that fact that many commuters want to reach the East Side of Manhattan and would be delighted with a No. 7 connection. The second objection is also valid, but so what? That’s what we pay our governors and mayors to deal with.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said it did not have the money to do the project, but who said it was its to do? The No. 7 is a discrete line without a physical connection to other lines. No other trains run on the No. 7 tracks and No. 7 trains run only on No. 7 tracks. The entire system could and should be transferred to an existing “federal” bi-state railroad such as PATH or New Jersey Transit.

I suggest PATH for two reasons:

1. New York travelers would not want a New Jersey operation controlling their commute from Queens and

2. PATH is a subway and travelers are familiar with the subway issues of the No. 7 (the rolling stock is similar)

The New Jersey alignment would be identical to that of the ARC project and the tunnel alignment and design would be similar. A No. 7 tunnel could be smaller and cheaper or it could be left to the ARC size for future conversion to an ARC tunnel when money becomes available.

Since it is essentially the ARC project without the terminal, there is no reason why the federal funds, reduced in proportion to the reduced cost could still not be obtained. Port Authority and New Jersey funds should also be available with the same reductions. Construction could begin immediately. This is a shovel-ready project.

The city and the MTA would have to guarantee to maintain their subsidies of the Queens operation of the line and New Jersey or NJT would have to cough up operating subsidies for the New Jersey commute. The line would continue to use MetroCard access at the same price in New York and would charge an exiting fee in New Jersey. The entry fee in New Jersey would be the total of the New Jersey exit fee and the New York entry fee. The personnel operating it would be New York City Transit transferees, who would or could retire from NYCT and start a new pension under a federal railroad, which is a different system. There would be no problem getting volunteers under those circumstances.

This plan is doable.

Enoch Lipson


Updated 6:18 pm, October 10, 2011
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