Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop says that, with all of the economic incentives that have recently been approved for Jersey City-based projects, Gov. Chris Christie’s support of a Port Authority report that proposes eliminating late-night PATH service to cut the agency’s costs is a “case study in hypocrisy.”“It makes no sense that Trenton would be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives to attract residents and businesses to move to New Jersey and at the same time cutting an asset which already exists, which is mass transportation,” Fulop said.
The report, released over the weekend and also supported by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, suggests that cutting PATH service between 1 and 5 a.m. would yield a savings of approximately $10 million per year. Port Authority Chairman John Degnan has reportedly said that the 24-hour transit system linking New York City to Jersey City, Hoboken, Harrison and Newark is losing approximately $300 million per year.
Also included in the report was a proposal to privatize PATH or turn it over to a third-party agency like NJ Transit.
The report was produced by a special panel commissioned by Christie and Cuomo in response to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal. Bills passed by both state legislatures aimed at reforming the bistate agency were, in turn, vetoed by Christie in Cuomo in favor of the internal report.
Fulop, a longtime outspoken critic of the Port Authority, said that, despite the report’s findings that the PATH is infrequently used late at night, the agency’s own numbers indicate some 150,000 passengers per year are served during those hours.
“It’s safe to say, based on that, Christie, Cuomo or Chairman Degnan have never ridden the PATH at night,” Fulop said.
If 24-hour service were to be eliminated, Fulop says Jersey City would become a less-attractive option for transit-oriented development. Currently, the city is experiencing a considerable increase in development interest around the Journal Square PATH station.
“We haven’t had any clear indication yet from anybody, but I think it’s safe to assume that it wouldn’t be helpful,” Fulop said. “Anybody would say that. It would have a negative impact, for sure.”
Speaking to The Star-Ledger on Monday, Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Sayreville), who led the legislative inquiry into the George Washington Bridge lane closures, said he wondered if the Port Authority’s suggestions were coming in the form of retribution against Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
Fulop disagrees with Wisniewski’s speculation and says that, more than anything else, he believes the report is just a product of subpar work.
“I’m going to brush it off as just laziness and that they didn’t accurately think through the implications of what was about to be released,” Fulop said.
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