PATH Announces $1B Capital Plan To Make Service Improvements

Leaders of the busy commuter-rail system want to boost passenger capacity by 10 percent on two key lines

PATH leadership is vowing to tackle overly-crowded trains among other problems, announcing a sweeping $1 billion capital plan to increase capacity, reduce delays and improve customer experience.

Beginning in September, the agency is targeting a 10 percent capacity increase for riders during rush hour on the lines from Newark to the World Trade Center and Journal Square to 33rd Street. The end game is a 40 percent increase on the busiest line, Newark to World Trade, over the next three years.

The need comes as residential and commercial development booms around current stations, outpacing infrastructure growth. The Port Authority says 82 million riders used the PATH in 2018 with an average daily ridership ranging between 230,000 to 290,000, making it the second most dense transit facility in North America for its 13 miles of railroad.

The agency says passengers won’t experience service interruptions during the upgrades. Capacity improvements include 72 new rail cars being phased in and continuous upgrades to signal-system software, now that the federally mandated Positive Train Control has been installed.

PATH general manager Clarelle DeGraffe says her team will target root causes for major delays, like switch failures and car equipment breakdowns. PATH will begin deploying new track-inspection vehicles to analyze conditions and putting more personnel on the ground to upgrade customer-service needs.

Don’t get overly excited, though. She says you’ll definitely have more breathing room but probably not a seat. Still, she says there’s more on the horizon.

All but $80 million of the plan has been approved. Don’t expect to see changes right away, it’s a multiyear plan. The question is, can they keep up with demand in the meantime.