One Way to Add NJ Transit Penn Station Capacity

Dear Editor:

There is still time for NJ Governor Phil Murphy to use his influence with NY Governor Kathy Hochul. He needs to insist that the New York State Empire State Development Corporation issue an addendum to the RFP to also include Penn Station South (four new platforms and eight tracks at Penn Station, New York to serve NJ Transit) as an option to any future contact for the basic $7 billion Penn Station redevelopment proposal recently announced by both governors.

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NJ Transit can work with the Federal Transit Administration and request that Penn South gain official admission into FTA’s national competitive discretionary Capital Investment Grant New Starts Core Capacity program for future funding.

This federal funding source previously helped finance several major New Starts projects New Jersey. These include New Jersey Transit’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail Minimum Operating Segment One ($992 million), Segment Two ($1.2 billion), Newark Elizabeth Light Rail ($694 million) and Secaucus Transfer ($450 million.)

Murphy can also negotiate an agreement with Hochul to obtain future funding for NJ Transit’s Penn South under the MTA’s planned Congestion Pricing. The latest schedule calls for implementation of tolling to start in December 2023 or some time in 2024. The MTA estimates it will generate $1 billion annually. This is supposed to raise $15 billion that which will help pay for the MTA $51 billion 2020 – 2025 Five Year Capital Plan. Both NJ Transit and the Port Authority have similar multi year Capital Plans.

New Jersey residents should consider asking for a fair share of revenues generated by these new tolls that they will also be paying. Many Metro North Port Jervis and Pascack Valley line riders change at Secaucus for NJ Transit trains bound for Penn Station via the Hudson River Tunnels. Thousands of New Yorkers are reverse commuters, traveling to jobs, colleges, entertainment, sporting events or shopping in New Jersey. They also benefit by any capital or operating improvements to NJ Transit.

Larry Penner

Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office.

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