The Port Authority Board of Commissioners authorized $78.6 million to enable PATH station facilities and platforms to accommodate nine-car trains on the Newark-World Trade Center (WTC) Line.
The nine-car expansion is a vital part of the $1 billion PATH Improvement Plan unveiled earlier this year. The series of station modifications, impacting the Grove Street, Exchange Place, Journal Square and Newark stations, is set to begin in the third quarter of 2020, with a targeted completion date of the second quarter of 2022. The project involves design, construction and engineering work on the platforms at the four stations. The authorization also advances conceptual planning for a future expansion to 10-car trains.
“This is a critical step in bringing better service and quicker, more efficient commutes to riders,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “With the great strides already taken in implementing new signal systems and easily accessed, real-time travel information, it’s an important day for PATH and our customers.”
The Port Authority says the PATH Improvement Plan is critical to meeting the rising demand for new and improved PATH services and additional capacity. Ridership on the 111-year-old system has reached record levels, with continued growth anticipated over the next decade and daily passenger totals already at more than 285,000 a day, on average, this year. Daily ridership has surpassed 300,000 on 10 separate weekdays recently.
The improvement plan contains three core elements: specific steps to increase capacity on the Newark-WTC line by 40 percent and all other lines by 20 percent by 2022; a six-point plan to reduce system delays; and a series of actions to improve customer experience including full integration with the MTA’s new tap-and-go fare payment system, OMNY.
“Expanding capacity with nine-car trains on the Newark-WTC line is a key element of the PATH Improvement Plan, and today’s board action will enable us to start the station construction that is required,” said Executive Director Rick Cotton. “This plan is a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach focused on adding capacity, reducing delays and improving the customer experience for all PATH riders.”
The authorization includes funding for the following segments of the project:
· Exchange Place: Excavation work to connect the north and south platforms to enhance emergency egress.
· Grove Street: Extending the platform at the east end corridor, including replacing walls with columns, relocation of existing signal equipment and associated infrastructure.
· Newark Penn Station: Rehabilitating and widening Platform H and modifying existing fending on Platform H and Platform C.
To date, PATH also has implemented cutting-edge signal technology, becoming the first railroad in the region to complete Positive Train Control (PTC) installation in December 2018 to make the ride safer for passengers. The signal upgrades will also allow the trains to run more frequently during peak period.