Time for Legislators to Commit to Better NJ-NYC Transit Access

arc_render_platform.jpg"Access to the Region’s Core" is the rather wonky name given to the long-awaited second commuter rail tunnel between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan. ARC, which would boost transit capacity and reduce car traffic into New York, is now entering a critical phase. In April, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign reported that local funds must be in place by October in order for the feds to release their matching grant, without which the project will languish indefinitely. Now TSTC is urging New Yorkers and New Jerseyans to contact their elected officials in support of ARC through an email advocacy campaign.

On their blog, Mobilizing the Region, TSTC says that ARC would:

  • Double NJ Transit’s rush-hour capacity into and out of Manhattan, meaning more frequent, more reliable, less crowded trains on most lines in northern, central, and southern New Jersey.
  • Provide one-seat rides
    into and out of Manhattan on the Pascack Valley Line, Port
    Jervis/Main/Bergen County Line, Morris & Essex Line, and Raritan
    Valley Line. Commuters will no longer have to transfer at Secaucus or
    Newark to get into and out of NYC.
  • Act as an economic stimulus for New Jersey and New
    York. During construction, ARC will employ (directly and indirectly)
    almost 100,000 blue-collar, white-collar, and green-collar workers.
    After construction, the improved transit access will make the region
    more attractive to new and relocating companies.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions. By taking cars off the road, ARC will cut more than 65,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year.

ARC rendering: Tri-State Transportation Campaign

  • Dave

    ARC is flawed, perhaps fatally because:
    – The tunnels are too deep and are a security threat to evacuate;
    – There is no linkage with the current tracks in/out of Penn/Moynihan station;
    – The tunnels dead end instead of continuing on to Grand Central or Long Island.

    It’s like building the Second Avenue subway with no connections to the existing 4/5/6 E/F/V L and all the other subways that it will cross.

  • Ann

    Dave, Let me guess- you are from the NJ Association of Railroad passengers? If so, I read a quote of your organization’s in the paper and I don’t understand where you all are coming from. Since when do transit advocates oppose worthwhile transit projects like ARC? It doesn’t make any sense even if you think the project isn’t perfect.

  • A) “Access to the Region’s Core” is a strange name – perhaps they went out of their way to come up with something that has an acronym like “ARC”?

    B) Local funding for a traffic mitigation project needs to be in place by a deadline in order for a matching federal grant to be released. Hmm, where have I heard that before?

  • I feel like ARC has become NJT’s version of the bridge to nowhere. If the current plan is locked and there is no way to revise the design, then I cannot support it.

    The lack of through connections with LIRR and Amtrak, no future connection to GCT, and the security risk of poor pedestrian access to a deep cavern terminal are unacceptable.

    I love the idea of extending the 7 train to Secaucus – http://www.subwaytosecaucus.com/

    and the concept of running the Hudson Bergen light rail through the Lincoln Tunnel and across 42nd St. – http://www.auto-free.org/lrt-linc.html

    but neither of these can truly replace the needed doubling of capacity into Penn Station. and that needs to be done correctly. I hope we can get ARC revised.

  • anonymouse

    I just hope NJT does abandon their deep cavern idea. Instead of adding more tracks into Penn Station, they want to build their own station, and have two separate two-track lines into Manhattan. Anyone who understands railroad operations should know that having a four track line gives you much more operational flexibility, and thus more capacity than a two track line. Look at how Metro North operates the line out of GCT: during rush hour, three tracks have trains in the peak direction, basically one track for each branch, and the fourth track carries all the reverse peak trains. Well, guess what NJT won’t be able to do with their deep cavern! You can’t run both Penn station tracks in one direction, since Amtrak still needs to run their trains, and you can’t run both cavern tracks inbound since there almost certainly won’t be enough storage capacity in the cavern. And of course, 24 tph still won’t be enough for New Jersey Transit, so some trains will end up operating to the cavern, and some to Penn Station, and that sure will be exceedingly user friendly. Especially when there are emergency diversions.

    Oh yes, and the 7 subway extension is a good idea, but fundamentally a different problem than the ARC project is trying to solve: ARC is about commuter and regional rail service, whereas a 7 subway extension would be much more useful for the people living just across the river, as well as bus passengers. I’d suggest, though, to make it even cheaper and easier and just convert one of the Lincoln Tunnel tubes. It won’t reduce peak capacity much, since so much bus traffic could be eliminated (by moving it onto the subway). Of course, I’m pretty sure that it’s a political impossibility to actually do that, but I still like the idea.

  • Boris

    I like the 7 to Secaucus idea, but my feeling when asked to choose is always, “why can’t we have both?” God knows we need them.

    As for ARC, I think it’s too early to complain about something that has barely been designed and won’t be built for another decade. Events such as Gov. Paterson’s recent call for collaboration between the different projects are pushing ARC into making the right connections. Also, deep stations are the norm, not the exception, in many regions around the world, and they seem to operate just fine.

  • Chris H

    Subway to Secaucus is not a plan. Its an idea cooked up by a bunch of cynical armchair planners. They did not even make a decent map. They have zero data and their cost projections are completely unsubstantiated. I have already said a lot about it in this thread.

    To all those complaining about the depth of the station and the time that it would take to reach the surface/subway: have you ever gotten off the train at Penn during or near rush hour? It can take you up to 5 minutes just to get off the platform. Having wider platforms and passageways would pretty much make up for the extra vertical distance traveled (under four minutes with high speed escalators). Add that with the horizontal distance that is traveled on such an escalator and the fact that the station would connect to the NRQW and BDFV would probably make the connections for anyone taking the subway the same or shorter.

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