Uptown PATH to close on weekends

The Port Authority is closing the Uptown PATH line  starting in August between Hoboken and 33rd Street in order to install Positive Train Control, a more advanced signalling and communications system that will let trains run more frequently in the future. As part of this closure, service patterns are changing:

Service on the 33rd Street line will be suspended from approximately 12:01 a.m. on Saturdays until 5 a.m. on Mondays. The suspension will continue most weekends into December, with the exception of major holidays, the Port Authority announced.

Regular weekend service will continue on the Newark-World Trade Center (WTC) line and between Journal Square and Hoboken. However, PATH can take some solace in the introduction of service between Hoboken and WTC on the weekend — which is not normally available.

Full NJ.com article here.

The Port Authority will also run shuttle buses between World Trade Center and Midtown, stopping at Christopher, 9th, 14th, 23rd, and 33rd Streets, though this will be a relatively roundabout route for anyone heading to Midtown from Hoboken or Newport.

Of course, people in Hoboken, or even Journal Square will probably not take this route, and will be diverted to the jitney buses, the NJ Transit 126, and the ferries.  The ferries could totally replace the Uptown PATH on the weekends, if not for the high fares.

In 2014 when the Downtown PATH tubes were closed, the Port Authority subsidized rides on the Paulus Hook ferry, bringing fares in line with PATH fares at the time. No ferries are being subsidized or discounted this time.




Speculation on what a partial tunnel closure would look like

In addition to further reliance on ferries, the PATH, and Lincoln and Holland tunnels, closing one of the North River tubes to Penn Station would mean tough decisions on how to use the remaining capacity.  From NJ.com:

The next question is who gets the little commuter rail capacity that’s left?

“The first question is who get those 6 trains?” Zuppan said, who assumed Amtrak’s two hourly trains would continue running. “NJ Transit has four instead of 20 (trains). The big question is what lines get them?

Would that mean two trains an hour each get allocated for the Northeast Corridor, and Morris & Essex lines, he questioned.

“There will be economic ramifications,” said Amtrak’s Schulz. “Regardless of  how the numbers shape up, there will be a reduction and people still need to go to work. How we do it, remains to be seen.”

NJ Transit’s multilevel cars have about 140 seats.  If we assume a heavy load of 50 standees per car, a 12-car train with two locomotives could hold (140+50)*12=2,280 passengers. Multiply that by 4 trains, and we get 9,120 passengers per hour

2013 hub-bound travel data shows that about 48,000 passengers enter Manhattan on NJ Transit trains between 7am and 10am. 22,000 of these people arrive between 8am and 9am. That leaves NJ Transit with a capacity deficit of about 13,000 people between 8 and 9.

One of the tricks that NJ Transit could pull out of its sleeve could be to remove seats from its trains to create more standing room.

The above assumptions are that a single track would allow 6 trains in an 6 trains out per hour.  This could change to 8 trains in and 4 trains out in the morning, which could be done during the peak, but would require changes to equipment staging. During the morning, outbound commuter numbers are much smaller than the number of inbound commuters.  In the PM rush, the number of inbound passengers is higher, so it would be more difficult to change the balance between inbound and outbound slots.

To create alternatives, NJ Transit would have to make crossing the Hudson via ferry or PATH more attractive.  We could see an increasing number of Coast Line and Northeast Corridor Trains terminating at Newark Penn Station, and increased service into Continue reading