JERSEY CITY – More than a dozen federal, state and local elected officials, as well as
labor advocates, joined at a press conference today calling on the Port Authority of New York
and New Jersey to withdraw their proposal to eliminate overnight PATH service.
The proposed service reduction was released in a report by the Port Authority between the
Christmas and New Year’s holiday and claims a $10 million annual savings. However,
according to ridership numbers provided by the bi-state agency, as many as 390,000 riders will
be impacted annually by the loss of service from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weeknights, with hundreds
of thousands more affected if weekend overnight service is also eliminated.
Attending the press conference at the Grove Street PATH station in Jersey City were:
· U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
· U.S. Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ8)
· N.J. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32)
· N.J. Senator Nicholas Sacco (D-32)
· N.J. Senator Brian Stack (D-33)
· N.J. Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31)
· Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
· Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer
· Harrison Mayor James Fife
· Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner
· Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff
· West New York Mayor Felix Roque
· Kearny Mayor Al Santos
· East Newark Mayor Joseph Smith
· Ken McNamara, President of CWA Local 1037
· Ray Greaves, Chairman of the New Jersey Amalgamated Transit Union State
· Analilia Mejia, Director of NJ Working Families Alliance.
Mayor Fulop, who immediately criticized the measure upon its release, called it one of the
worst ideas to come out of the Port Authority in the past six years and said it was further
illustration of how out of touch leadership at the agency is with its ridership and the public.
“To have this group of more than a dozen elected officials, from the city, state and federal
level, all calling on this measure to be withdrawn, speaks volumes,” said Mayor Fulop. “We
already saw both houses of the New York and New Jersey legislatures approve bi-partisan
reform measures for the Port Authority, and now we have consensus here as well. What will it
take for the Port Authority to hear what the public and their elected officials are saying?”
In his remarks, Mayor Fulop cited the critical role that the PATH train system and other mass
transit has played in economic development of Jersey City and the northern New Jersey region,
and how a reduction in service is counterproductive to New Jersey’s economic future. He also
pointed out how the measure hurts the most vulnerable commuters, the working-class
employees who rely on overnight PATH service to get to and from work.
“The fact is that is going to have a huge impact on working families who rely on this service,”
said Mayor Fulop. “Whether it is nights, weekdays, or weekends, New Jersey’s future
economic growth relies on an increase in mass transportation and PATH service, not a
decrease. Instead of reducing operating hours, the Port Authority should be finding ways to
add and improve service.”
The PATH train system connects New York City with Jersey City, Newark, Harrison and
Hoboken and has averaged 73 million annual riders over the past five years, making it one of
the most-used systems in the country. According to the Port Authority, from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
on weeknights, 1,500 people use the PATH service.
“The notion of using Port Authority reform as a ‘Trojan Horse’ for transit cutbacks is illconceived,”
said U.S. Senator Menendez. “More than anywhere else in the nation, our region
depends on transit for our economic viability and quality of life. As long as the Port Authority
is going to charge New Jerseyans $14 to cross its bridges and tunnels, a viable transit
alternative is essential.”
The bi-state agency, with a 2014 budget of $8.2 billion, states its mission is to “identify and
meet the critical transportation infrastructure needs of the bistate region’s businesses, residents,
and visitors … while strengthening the economic competitiveness of the New York-New Jersey
Metropolitan Region.” However, many of the speakers questioned if the Port Authority had
lost sight of its mission.
“New Jersey’s past, present, and future rely on a transit network that is reliable and affordable,”
said U.S. Senator Booker. “It is part of our state’s quality of life and critical to the economic
health and viability of our state. It’s clear the PANYNJ has strayed from its original mission
and suffers from less than ideal transparency and accountability, which has chipped away at the
public’s trust. I’m disappointed that bipartisan reform proposals offered by both the NJ and NY
legislatures were vetoed. I have serious concerns about any cutbacks of PATH service, a
service many depend on to get to and from work. Access to mass transit is key to the growth we
are seeing in some of our Hudson County communities. New Jersey commuters and residents
deserve to be heard on this issue before any decisions are final.
Echoing the remarks of Senators Menendez and Booker, Congressman Sires, a member of the
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee pledged to use his role in Washington to
halt any elimination of overnight PATH service.
“The 8th Congressional District contains the majority of Port Authority managed properties all
of which are used 24 hours a day by hard working New Jersey residents,” said Congressman
Sires (D-NJ8). “I am extremely concerned with the report presented to Governors Christie and
Cuomo by the special panel of board members of PANYNJ to privatize PATH and suspend
overnight services. As a member of the U.S. House Transportation committee, I will work with
the local, county, State elected officials and my colleagues in Washington to ensure that the
recommendations concerning PATH operations mentioned in the report to Governors Christie
and Cuomo do not take place.”
The group of elected officials all criticized the proposal, saying the need for reform at the Port
Authority was meant to create greater accountability, not limit service and penalize riders.
“Port Authority reform was never about cutting rail service for the hard-working people of
Hudson County and this region,” said Assembly Speaker Prieto (D-32). “It was about
bringing more transparency and accountability to this troubled agency that for far too long has
caused headaches for area commuters. I will not stand idle and let the Port Authority cut
needed services and inconvenience residents and hurt businesses.”
As part of the Port Authority’s proposed 10-year, $27.6 billion capital spending plan
announced in February, the agency is moving forward with a $1.5 billion plan to link the PATH
train system to Newark Liberty International Airport.
“We have more than $2 billion worth of economic development in the pipeline, ranging from
the new Prudential skyscrapers in our downtown to new homes in all of our neighborhoods, and
residents and workers will be harshly impacted by this move,” said Newark Mayor Baraka.
“Vast numbers of Newark residents – late-shift workers, night-shift workers, and college
students, depend on PATH to get to and from jobs, classes, and events. Closure of the PATH
service at night will also have a terrible impact on Newark Liberty International Airport and its
passengers, which is very much a 24/7 facility, with airliners flying in and out from all across
the world, at all hours, day and night.”
The speakers in attendance all also pointed to the disproportionate economic disadvantage this
latest proposal would have on New Jersey.
“The terrible idea to cut overnight PATH service needs to be publicly withdrawn from
consideration immediately,” said Hoboken Mayor Zimmer. “Even the uncertainty that the
Port Authority is not fully committed to 24/7 PATH service puts New Jersey at a competitive
disadvantage versus our neighbors across the river who have 24/7 mass transit access within
New York City. As a result, our State will lose jobs, economic growth will be undermined, and
taxpayers will bear the burden of a significant loss of sales and income tax revenue.”