A controversial cost-cutting proposal to eliminate overnight PATH service has been indefinitely tabled by Port Authority Chairman John Degnan.Following a meeting Tuesday with Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-Secaucus), Degnan issued a letter reiterating his commitment to setting the issue aside for now.
Degnan added that if the proposal were to re-emerge, “any proposed reduction in PATH service would first require detailed study, consultation with local public officials and other interested parties and, of course, a series of public hearings to be attended by commissioners, including me.”
RELATED: Officials demand Port Authority kill proposal to end overnight PATH service
“You have my assurance that, as always, none of these steps will be taken without consultation with you as well as other legislative leaders in both states,” Degnan wrote in the letter addressed to Sweeney and Prieto.
The report indicated that eliminating PATH service between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. could yield an annual savings of approximately $10 million, providing slight relief to the roughly $300 million per year that PATH reportedly loses.
The proposal was one of several reform measures suggested in an internal Port Authority report released last month by a special panel commissioned by Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in response to the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal.
It instantly drew the ire of several local, state and federal officials, prompting Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop to lead a news conference last week calling on Degnan to take the proposed PATH service cuts off the table.
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Later, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Jamie Fox also criticized the proposal.
“We want to thank the 20 elected officials that have been a part of this process as well, specifically Sen. (Robert) Menendez, Jamie Fox, Speaker Prieto and Senate President Sweeney,” Fulop said Wednesday. “Now that Degnan has agreed to not cut PATH service, we should start considering the expansion of the service, as I think this process has hopefully opened the Port Authority’s eyes to the importance of the service.”
“Solving problems requires leadership, negotiation and open communication, and we would like to thank Chairman Degnan for his willingness to work with us to resolve this important issue by working together,” Sweeney said. “This is a victory for the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who ride on the PATH system, especially the low-wage workers and young people who rely on the line as their principal mode of transportation.”
In also thanking Degnan for his cooperation, Prieto added that “Port Authority reform was never supposed to be about cutting vital rail services for hard-working residents.”
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