Mayors, lawmakers speak against PATH rail service cuts
JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Local, state and federal lawmakers want to send a message: Don't reduce rail service between New York City and northern New Jersey.
Officials gathered Monday at Jersey City's Grove Street PATH station in response to last month's recommendations released by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The governors advocate cutting costs on the money-losing rail line by curtailing overnight service.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says a reduction in service would hurt the most vulnerable commuters. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka calls the proposed cuts "a disgrace."
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) said the proposal to cut PATH service would be a travesty.
"An agency that has gotten into the habit of issuing reports and raising tolls when either citizens can’t get to events, or in the middle of the night during a holiday period when no one is paying attention - that is far from the type of openness and transparency that is required of a bi-state agency that has billions of dollars," Menendez said.
The senator said an audit that was issued by the Port Authority itself found the agency was in dire need of a top to bottom management overhaul. Menendez also said nothing has been done since that audit, and the proposal being put forth is nothing short of outrageous.
"More than anywhere else in the nation our region depends on transit for our economic viability, and quality of life. To this end we must have a Port Authority that is responsible and responsive to the people it serves," he said.
On Monday, Menendez said as long as the Port Authority is charging $14 for motorists to cross a bridge or a tunnel, "then a viable transit alternative is absolutely essential."
The lawmaker said roughly 390,000 people use the PATH trains each week during the overnight hours and discontinuing those hours of service would be detrimental to them.
"We live in a 24/7 global economy – the global economy doesn’t stop at 1 a.m. in the morning," Menendez said.
PATH is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It carries 73 million riders annually, but revenue per rider is low compared with other transit systems around the country.
David Matthau contributed to this report.