PATH Launches $1 Billion Plan to Improve Service: A Breakdown

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Traveling and commuting to the city via the PATH is a right, a privilege, and oh, what an experience for those of us who live in the Mile Square and Jersey City. As a commuter, you don’t have to hope the PATH will be on time or that service won’t be disrupted or that you won’t be crammed into the nook of some strangers’ underarm while waiting on the platform {or taking the train itself}. It’s just #FACTS.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty of things, shall we? Port Authority is looking to rehabilitate the PATH Station and its often unreliable reputation. With a $1 billion plan already in the works, Port Authority is making a massive effort to bring commuters more improved service through added capacity, reduced delays, and an overall enhancement of the commuter experience taking the PATH. Keep reading to find out what to expect from the PATH’s newly launched $1 billion plan to improve service. 

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The PATH: A History

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First, let’s go back in time. The PATH goes way, way, way back in time — all the way to the beginning of the 20th century when it was first installed. In fact, the PATH as a method of transportation to and from the city came even before the tunnel from New Jersey to Penn Station was a thing.

See More: What to Do Near The 23rd Street PATH Stop in NYC

Wait…Didn’t the PATH Get Updates in 2018?

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If you just thought this — yes, you’re totally right. Look at you — paying attention! Actually, not for nothing, it would be pretty hard to not notice to the most recent set of updates that the PATH got in 2018. In fact, even if riders stare at their phones during the whole train ride, it would be pretty difficult not to see a slight difference at least.

In 2018, PATH installed cell phone service in all of its underground stations. So, in the past year, riders may have noticed more reliable service in the way of texts going through, Instagram scrolling, calls being received, etc.

That’s not all — 2018 was also the year that PATH added countdown clocks system-wide, modeled after the ones in many New York City Subway stations. PATH also launched the RidePATH app the same year, which provides information on late trains and disrupted service. In order to receive the notifications, PATH passengers must have their phones in Bluetooth mode.

While these updates represent a lot of what PATH travelers have been wanting from Port Authority, PATH has stated its commitment to going one step further. After all, an app that tells you if your train is late is hardly as valuable as a train, well, just not being late. With the help of $1 billion, PATH is hoping to make that ideal commuting experience a closer reality.

The Three Main Goals of the PATH Overhaul

Nowadays, PATH service is a far cry from what it was first intended to do. In 2018 alone, the PATH saw 81.7 million riders back and forth, according to NJ.com. The main goal of this new, $1 billion overhaul is to modernize the PATH for 2019 and to allow it to keep up with the transportation it is already generated.

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This PATH service overhaul seeks to improve PATH service through three main goals: adding capacity, reducing delays {and, therefore, improving the reliability of service}, and overall, enhancing the PATH travel experience for all PATH guests.

Capacity Increase

The capacity increase is a two-fold project: first, a 10 percent increase on two lines by Fall 2019. This 10 percent capacity increase will happen during the commuters’ morning and evening rush on the Newark to World Trade Center and Journal Square to 33rd Street lines. PATH commuters will see this increase completed by September 2019.

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Then within the next three years, a 40 percent increase on the line from Newark to World Trade Center and a 20 percent capacity increase on all other lines. By 2020, PATH will have the capacity to carry an added 18,000 passengers

So, what’s responsible for the added capacity? PATH is adding two new sets of trains — for a total of 72 new rail cars between 2021 and 2022 — and hiring more crew in order to bring commuters significantly shorter wait times. Another new change will be PATH’s new signal system, which allows trains to now run every three minutes rather than the previous system’s ability to only run every four minutes. #LessWaitTime.

The PATH will be able to carry 18,000 additional passengers during the morning and evening rush between Newark and the World Trade Center. Capacity on PATH’s remaining lines will increase by 20 percent.

Delay Reductions

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Next, PATH is also trying to cut back on their reasons for train delays. Out of the $1 billion allotments, $50 million of that will go toward reducing typical reasons for delays. Such reasons for delays could include signal issues {PATH will use this money to repair, therefore, reduce}, switch failures, car equipment failures, unreasonable track conditions, sick passengers, and unattended bags.

PATH says it is committed to a “full implementation of these measures” within the next 30 months and will be responsible for publishing metrics on their improvements quarterly.

Two main reasons for delays include unattended bags and passengers getting sick on trains. As you can imagine, these factors can be difficult — if not impossible — to predict, so PATH has committed to changing its protocol. In order to provide assistance to passengers in need more efficiently, PATH will call upon emergency responders more quickly. The second part of this initiative will be employing a new service campaign that encourages passengers who may feel ill to stay on the platform in order to get quicker assistance.

Read More: Things To Do Near 14th Street PATH Station

As for unattended bags, all unattended bags left on platforms and in stations have to be checked for explosives as part of an anti-terrorism precaution. This can cause massive delays. PATH is vowing to conduct these necessary searches more efficiently by improving the deployment of Port Authority Police and K-9 units during peak times.

Enhancing Overall Customer Experience

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How can PATH enhance the overall customer experience for PATH riders? As part of the $1 billion plan, PATH will install new fare technology that will allow commuters to pay for tickets via smartphone or credit card. PATH will also strive to improve its in-station announcements {more clarity, perhaps?}, and even make updates to PATHAlerts on people’s phones to make sure they are more timely, efficient, and accurate.

Lastly, PATH will also try to reduce platform crowding through new platform management techniques. Part of this initiative means establishing what number of people are allowed on platforms at once. PATH will then strictly adhere to that capacity as to avoid platform overcrowding.

What are your thoughts on the $1 billion plan to improve PATH service? Comment below!


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Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.