Ever since NJ Governor Christie cancelled funding for the Trans-Hudson ARC railroad tunnel to NY Penn Station, mass transit pundits seem to be at a loss about what to do about a Plan B to relieve the rush hour bottleneck in the existing Hudson tunnels.
Fortunately, there is an option staring us right in the face: have NJ Transit (NJT) run some of their scheduled train service through the PATH tunnels to New York City destinations other than Penn Station.
There is already talk of taking PATH away from the Port Authority and putting it under NJ Transit administration. Why not go the next logical step and integrate the PATH and NJT track systems?
The track width of the NJ Transit and PATH tracks is identical, and in fact, PATH already uses NJT tracks in Newark sometimes when trains go to storage or maintenance yards. Once PATH and NJT track systems are fully integrated, select trains from any NJT rail line can go under the Hudson River straight to New York's World Trade Center or Herald Square stations. This would not only relieve NJT rush hour train congestion to NY Penn Station, it would also relieve some of the subway congestion on Manhattan's West Side.
There will be substantial costs and migraine-inducing technical problems to make this all happen, but let's face it: modifying the existing PATH tunnels will be less expensive and take less time to complete than digging a brand new tunnel to Penn Station that would have cost multiple billions of dollars. It would tough, but I believe that all the issues can be solved and the results will greatly benefit the New York/New Jersey commuter community.
And besides, with the Trans-Hudson ARC tunnel dead and buried for the foreseeable future, does anyone out there have a better alternative?