By David Cruz
Back in January, when the Port Authority proposed cuts to overnight service, a coalition of elected officials and others rallied to stop the agency, citing increased ridership and the economic impact the cuts would have on working men and women.
That effort was successful, but in April, the agency tweaked its schedule of Hoboken to 33rd Street rush hour trains from one every six minutes to one every seven minutes — basically three fewer trains during the morning and evening rush — in order, they said, to help ease pressure at Jersey City stations. But Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says the tweaking amounts to a 14 percent stealth service cut during peak travel time. At a press conference last week, she let the agency have it.
“They went through no public process and it’s a 15 percent reduction in service to Hoboken residents with no public process whatsoever,” Zimmer said.
The Port Authority is calling this an adjustment, not a schedule change, which they have said in the past would trigger public hearings and direct consultation with local elected officials. PA Executive Director Pat Foye in a letter to Zimmer this week: “When Port Authority and PATH staff met with you last month to discuss a number of PATH-related issues, we provided you and your staff the new schedule prior to the adjustment going into place.”
A spokesman for Zimmer said today that the agency presented the new schedule, without comment, almost as an afterthought at the end of that meeting. In a response to Foye, Zimmer said the service reductions never came up. Meanwhile, commuters we talked to were unaware that service cuts were already in place.
“If it’s just one minute every day I can deal with that,” said Hoboken resident Alex Gutterson. “It’s very convenient. It’s going under the Hudson River to get to Manhattan.”
Jersey City resident Heather Gordon said it’s all right to wait an extra minute for a PATH train in Hoboken. What about being told that PATH was cutting service by 14 percent? “That’s significant. That would not be a good idea,” she said. When told that’s what a minute represents she said, “Wow, really? Then no that’s not a good idea,” she said.
Dennis Diaz of Union City said if PATH was cutting service 14 percent, “Well, I’ll have to take the bus, New Jersey Transit.”
That agency is having its own problems, but the Port Authority, which has been in hot water for any number of issues, including that bridge thing and perks to former chairmen, but transparency, or the lack thereof, has been the one that raises the most rancor.
It’s only 60 seconds, but the latest service cut by the Port Authority is an indication, says the mayor, that when it comes to the commuting public here, the Port Authority won’t even give them the time of day.