Less than three weeks after the governors of New York and New Jersey recommended cutting overnight service on the Port Authority Trans-Hudson service to trim costs on the money-losing rail line, the proposal was put on hold after opposition from residents and elected officials.
In a letter dated Tuesday to two New Jersey lawmakers who had opposed the plan, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman John Degnan, a member of the governors' panel that made the proposal, said that while preliminary data appeared to show that cutting the service was "an option at least worth considering," he had agreed to table the idea.
"Were the Board to take up this issue in the future, any proposed reduction in PATH service would first require detailed study, consultation with local public officials and other interested parties, and of course a series of public hearings," Degnan wrote to Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto.
Sweeney's and Prieto's concerns had been echoed by numerous local, state and federal lawmakers, many of whom attended a news conference this month in Jersey City to express their opposition.
Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, whose city relies heavily on the PATH trains into and out of New York, praised the decision Wednesday.
"With 56 percent of Hoboken residents using public transportation to commute each day — the highest rate, not just in the state but in the nation — the success of our community and region is intrinsically linked to a robust mass transit system," Zimmer wrote in an email. "Going forward, we should be focused on ideas to expand, not cut public transportation options within our region."
The recommendation was one of many contained in a report last month by the panel commissioned by Govs. Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo. The report noted that while PATH is the nation's seventh-busiest heavy-rail system with about 73 million passengers annually, it is two to three times more expensive to operate than comparable rail systems and charges passengers one fare regardless of the distance they travel.
Among the panel's other recommendations for PATH was to have the Port Authority partner with a third-party operator to improve its performance.
PATH has operated at a loss of more than $300 million annually over the last five years, according to the panel's report. Because it doesn't receive federal subsidies, the shortfall must be made up using revenue from the Port Authority's bridge and tunnel tolls and airport fees.